Spring has been very wet and with the late winter thaw, area waterways are very full, some dangerously so. The Illinois DNR has closed major sections of the Kankakee River as too swollen for safe navigation, and the Mississippi is running very high and muddy from all the flooding upriver in Minnesota. Inland lakes are doing fine, but they too are at high water marks for this time of year.

A plus side to the high water in the lakes is that it is allowing for some of the best top-water fishing this year. The in-water weeds are high and healthy after the very good, strong spring, and make great cover for the fish. The new year spawn from a number of species hide in the weeds and become a magnet for the bigger fish. The weeds also make for great ambush spots for bigger fish such as bass and pike – and all of this adds up to a great spot for top water baits.

The biggest misconception about the top water baits is that the water has to be smooth. Nothing could be further from the truth. On days the waters are really pretty choppy one can catch some very nice fish using the top water baits. The trick is in the speed of the retrieve and size of the lure.

Flat water or water with small ripples across it are the usual conditions under which many fisherman use top water baits. For the best success one should look for the edge of the weeds first and work the top water bait slowly down the weed edge with an erratic motion on the lure, and make pauses in the retrieve. The bait is intended to look like an injured fish on the surface.

If there is no action on the outside, it is time to go into the weeds. Either a pre-rigged frog or a floating plastic worm rigged weedless is a good option. The first step is to find a hole in the weed cover and cast beyond it. If the bait is dragged slowly and steadily across the hole, bass will usually hit it as soon as it appears in the opening or just before it disappears. The hard part of this type of fishing comes when the fish explodes onto the lure. The first reaction is to jerk back right, but that will often pull the lure away from the fish. One must wait till they feel the weight of the fish, and then jerk back and drive the hook home. This takes practice but it will provide some of the most exciting fishing ever.

Until next time … keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.