Big topwater baits are commonly used during tarpon trips or when targeting muskie. Surprisingly enough, Elite Series pro Jason Quinn reveals that big topwater baits are a key part of his summertime bass fishing arsenal.
"Summer is the one of the most overlooked periods in the year for throwing a big topwater bait," he says.
Quinn explains that this is largely due to the fact that conventional wisdom leads most anglers to believe that once the sun crests the east horizon, the topwater bite is done.
"That's just not the case; the majority of your fish are going to be suspending around baitfish," he explains. "What happens is that bass will group up and follow the bait, and as a result they're very susceptible to a big topwater bait."
Fishing big topwater baits during the heat of the day in the summer months is, according to Quinn, no different than fishing a deep jig or Carolina rig. In both scenarios, baitfish and structure are key elements.
"Bass might suspend during the day, but it will only be a few feet deep," he explains. "This time of year bass are relating to baitfish and bottom structure more than anything else. There's nothing more fun than calling a bass up on a big topwater bait over a deep point in the middle of the day. It's just awesome."
On lakes where there's little to no current, Quinn explains that he targets main creek or river channels on the main lake.
"You can find them right out in the middle of the main river channel this time of the year," he says. "Really, you're going to target anywhere the bait is gathering up during the heat of the day."
Conversely, on lakes where there is some current flow, Quinn targets points and bridge pilings, and he pays little mind to the time of the day.
"They're going to be feeding the same and keying on the same types of structure regardless of what time of the day that it is," he says. "This time of the year, most of the bait is going to be just below the surface, and so will the bass."
The term "match the hatch" isn't in Quinn's vocabulary where big topwater baits are concerned.
"That's simply because the bass are out there feeding on a million of them that same size," he explains. "As a result, bass are most likely to hit something a little bigger.
Additionally, Quinn points out that the amount of wind and recreational traffic during the summer months dictates his decision to go big.
"If you're working a small topwater bait, it's just not going to be as effective," he says. "The other thing is that you can get a little more distance on your casts with a bigger plug."
Retrieval speed is always central to success when trying to evoke a reaction on top, and, for Quinn, the faster the better.
"You're trying to trigger a reaction strike," he explains. "You have to remember that this time of the year bass are schooled up and roaming through big balls of bait fish, and all you're trying to do is get them to react."
Big striper and muskie plugs are common elements in Quinn's arsenal during the heat of the summer, but his favorite baits are more commonly used for saltwater fishing.
"The big saltwater Rapala Skitter Pop or Luhr-Jensen Johnny Rattler is just unbelievable this time of the year," he says. "With either bait you have to remember to upgrade you line size to a good 50-pound braid. Most of the time, your bites will come all the way out on the end of a cast, and you've got to have a line without any stretch in it to bury the hooks."