Eyes on the bank

It seems like every bass angler these days is so moonstruck by forward looking sonar they can’t wait to get off the bank after the spawn. I’m an electronics junky, so I get it. It’s a real kick to see a bass in front of my boat with Humminbird Mega Live Imaging and pick it off.

But it can be too enticing to shine that beam of live out there on those offshore spots. We’re forgetting about the fabulous fishing that’s taking place on the bank.

A lot of bass do move offshore after they spawn. But a lot of them stick around the shallows to feed through the shad and bluegill spawns. Now is the time for some of the best topwater fishing of the year. Say what you will about video-game bass fishing, nothing beats a topwater bite. That has been true for well over 100 years. It is the traditional essence of our sport.

And it’s a great way to catch a trophy and sack a big bag of bass.

I stay on the move and run the bank with a buzzbait, popper or a walking bait. The bass tell me where they are when they blow up on my bait. I stick with white colors during the shad spawn. When I’m targeting bluegill beds I go with green pumpkin or chartreuse patterns.

I try to find the clearest water during the shad spawn, which is usually toward the main lake. Bass in clear water will come farther to get a topwater bait and are more likely to commit with a solid bite. You’ll find me casting into the shallows on main lake and secondary points while everyone else is fishing ledges and other offshore structure.

I let the bass tell me what type of cover they’re on by mixing it up and casting to seawalls, riprap, docks, rocks and other types of shoreline cover. You need to get after them first thing in the morning. The shad stop spawning once the sun gets up. Cloudy days extend the window of opportunity.

When the bass are hanging around bluegill beds, they’ll go for a topwater bait at any time of day. Sunfish make their honeycomb beds in the same protected areas the bass use for spawning. If the water is stained, as it often is, I go with a buzzbait or a loud popper. I keep my trolling motor humming. The more water you cover the better off you are. Spend more time reading the bank than looking at the map on your graph.

I call the bass to the surface with Googan Baits. Their Squad Hummer Buzzbait works well straight out of the package and comes in great colors. The Googan Squad Blooper is my favorite. This popper has a really nice blooping sound. I keep it moving so I can cover more water. Bass that relate to isolated rocks, trees and other cover are suckers for this bait.

Since the water’s warm and the bass are active it doesn’t take slow coaxing to get them to bite like it does in the prespawn. I just keep that popper blooping along.

I fish all my topwater baits on 40-pound Seaguar TactX braid because it lets me make really long casts. It also takes the work out of fishing a walking bait. I tie the braid directly to my baits without any type of leader. I use a soft casting rod to compensate for the no stretch line, a 13 Fishing 7-foot, 1-inch, Envy Black III Cranking Rod. I pair it with a 13 Fishing Concept A2 reel that has a 6.8:1 gear ratio.