Words & Pics – Nick Brown
There is nothing quite like the boof of a big bass as it smashes your surface lure right next to the yak. One on top is worth at least two below. If you want some adrenaline and zing in your fishing, Nick Brown details some of the basics of this style of angling. Be warned though, surface fishing for bass from a kayak is addictive.
The prime time for bass on surface lures is spring and summer. Macquaria novemaculeata, aka the Australian Bass, is on the hunt for its favourite meal, after hopefully having a successful spawning run during winter (for the wild fish anyway). Whilst bass can be caught on the surface at anytime of the day, early morning, late afternoon and evening are prime times. So dust off the yak, sharpen your hooks and get ready for some topwater takes.
Nail it and you get your quarry
Whether you target bass in freshwater lagoons, small creeks and tributaries, or larger dams, experienced anglers know that when fishing structure or edges for bass, it is all about the cast. Land it short, and you are wasting your time. Overcook it, and you end up in the trees and disturb all the fish trying to retrieve your lure! Nail it just centimetres from the snag or bank, and bingo you’re on.
When you do hit the mark, be prepared straight away for a take. Those first few seconds after your lure lands on the water are vital. Often you will get smacked immediately. If this doesn’t happen, sometimes it is worth waiting as long as ten seconds or more before beginning your retrieve, or just doing a short twitch and pause again.
Surface fishing for bass is highly addictive. There is nothing quite like the boof of a bass on a warm summer evening. Kayak anglers often like to chase bass in heavily vegetated small creeks that happen to be picturesque, and this only adds to the appeal and charm.
Topwater fishing for bass from a yak gets all the senses working. The stealth factor of fishing for bass from a kayak means that you can get up and personal with the fish, while being seated almost at water level.
The visual picture as a bass explodes on the surface, while taking in your natural surrounds is hard to beat. The noises and sounds of a summers morning or evening, often dominated by cicadas and other insects calling, is rudely interrupted when a bass boots your lure. The smell of flowering plants and fresh vegetation heightens the senses. Anticipation before the hit, when you instinctively know you have landed the right cast in the strikezone hard up against a snag, followed by the adrenaline of the hook up. If you haven’t already tried fishing for bass on the surface from a kayak, then you need to start.
Topwater lures to try
Even for experienced bass anglers, mixing up your lure offerings sometimes will not only catch fish during a hard session, but add some variety and freshness to your fishing. It is rewarding and at times challenging to catch fish on a different style of lure.
The following are a breakdown on the different styles of most surface lures for bass, with two suggestions to try in each category. It is well known that bass like an erratic, pause retrieve style, so work all of these lures this way as a first option. Mixing it up with your retrieve style may switch the fish on if they are shut down. Note, there are many other brands on the market that will catch fish. The bass anglers tackle box can never have too many lures!
Stickbaits or Pencils
Work these styles of lures with the rod tip going side to side (walking the dog), with plenty of pauses. Two top lures to try are the Berkley 3B Scumdog Crank 68mm and Lucky Craft Sammy 65.
Often a cicada style of lure, these guys bubble along the top. Mix your retrieve styles up, and don’t be afraid to add long pauses in between. Two crawlers with lots of runs on the board are the Tiemco soft shell cicada and Kokoda Bat.
Walkers or Paddlers
These lures wobble side to side. Slow retrieve with pauses. Two reliable walkers are the Taylormade basscada and Halco Night Walker (the bib on the Halco can be ‘lit up’ fluoro under torch light, which also helps knowing where you lure lands when casting at night).
These are a classic style of surface lure. Again the pause works well, but mix it up as a steady retrieve emitting a bubble trail often turns the bass on. A couple of poppers worth checking out are the River 2 Sea Bubble Pop and Bushy Stiffy Popper.
Propeller style lures which can be retrieved slowly, or short sharp rip and pause technique. Heddon fizzers such the Tiny Torpedo and Teeny Torpedo are proven performers.
For those yak anglers skilled in the art of fishing light baitcasters for bass in overgrown vegetation, then you are certainly a better caster than I am. Like the majority of anglers, I prefer the ease of spin tackle. Small threadlines in the 1000-2500 size loaded with 4lb to 10lb braid, matched to a quality rod in the 6-7foot range rated 1-3kg or 2-4kg, is the outfit of choice for most bass anglers when fishing from a kayak.
You don’t need a flash kayak to get out on the water and chase bass on the surface. Some prefer a sit on top style, others the sit in models. Whatever you choose, there are a few basics that you should pack.
Consider a seat, as even a short period on the water can be niggly on the back, and you will be able to fish longer if comfortable.
Take a selection of topwater lures (see suggestions above), fluoro trace material in the range of 4lb through to about 12lb, scissors, pliers (most important with trebles and flicking and rolling bass in a kayak….), camera, measuring ruler and small net.
A bucket with a sealing lid is helpful for storage. Place important items in your yak hatches for easy access. Throw in a bottle of water, polarised sunnies, hat, sunscreen, and you are ready to rumble in the bass jungle.