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“A Prescription For Success”

By Stan Fagerstrom
Part 1

The guy on the phone said it was hard for him to believe something I had written about topwater fishing for bass.

He didn’t come right out and say I didn’t know what I was talking about, but it was obvious he was so inclined.

Listen up, friends, because I’m about to make noises like your family doctor. I'm not going to ask for your medical history or check your blood pressure. I am going to provide you with a prescription. And if I'm not qualified to write it, nobody is. It’s the same prescription I provided for the guy who called me that evening.

The prescription I'm talking about doesn't have anything to do with health. My prescription is aimed at the angler who has never been able to catch bass on surface lures.
I hear from someone who has that kind of problem every now and then. As I’ve mentioned, it was just such a call that provided the inspiration for the prescription I'm about to write.

"You keep talking about being able to get bass to hit on top," this caller said. "I'm finding that difficult to believe, especially where Southwest Washington's Silver Lake is concerned. Maybe things have changed since you lived there."

I was tempted to ask that caller if he was interested in putting some money on the line. Bass can be caught on top at Silver Lake just about as readily as they were half a century ago. But just like 50 years ago, you have to be able to take the necessary steps to be assured of getting the job done.

I’m not saying, of course, that you’re going to go to Silver Lake or anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest and take many bass off the top this time of year. The best surface fishing comes during the warmer months of the year and that’s the period for which my prescription is written..

If you're another of those not uncommon plug pitchers who just can't seem to catch bass off the top---pay attention. Here is the prescription that will cure such an ailment.

For starters, you've got to learn how to cast. I don't mean merely being able to heave a plug out fairly close to your target. You've got to master the ability to put your lure within inches of the cover where bass might be holding.

You've got to develop the casting ability necessary to drop a surface lure like this right where it needs to be. Expert casting is essential with either a bait casting rig or a spinning outfit. You won't get your share of topwater bass until you've develop the required casting skills.

Let's look at Silver Lake again. If you're topwater fishing at this popular Western Washington lake during warmer months your best bet will often be the little indentations and pockets in the outside edges of the lily pad fields. To follow my prescription, you've got to be able to drop your lure gently and accurately into these pockets.

The best way to develop this ability is through practice. It is, in fact, the only way. Unless you're willing to take the time to develop the kind of pinpoint accuracy required, better buy some more spinnerbaits or plastic worms. You'll do a lot better with them than surface lures.

Let's say you're among the few who realize just how important precision casting is in fishing the surface for bass. You've taken the time to develop your casting technique with both spinning and bait casting gear.

Here's the second part of my prescription: Get yourself at least three proven surface lures. There are more than three good ones out there, of course, but these three are about as reliable as any of them. One of those lures is a Heddon Dying Flutter Spook. A second is the Super Pop-R. A third is the Cordell Red Fin.

If you know anything at all about Silver Lake, you're aware the lake has both bluegill and yellow perch. These fish, along with bullhead catfish, provide the primary forage for the lake’s bass.

Keep that in mind when you pick out your lures. If there's any question about which color to select, go for those that resemble a perch. Back in the early days when I still sometimes killed bass, I found 10 perch in their stomachs to one of any other kind of forage.

This nice Silver Lake bass smacked a surface lure. The fish came from the outer edge of the lake's pad fields you see in the background.

That’s the first part of my prescription for topwater bass fishing success. I’ll get into more of the specifics in my next column. Watch for it beginning Jan 1.

-To Be Continued-
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