These are two of my favorites: Storm Rattlin' Chug Bugs. I
like the 2 1/2 inch model but the 3 1/2 inch one is better for big bass. The
Natural Perch finish (top) is especially effective for bass anywhere redbreast
might be prey for bass, which is just about every river in Georgia!
This section was originally titled "Chug Bug"
because I was thoroughly outfished recently on the Flint by a GRF member
using a Storm Rattlin' Chug Bug for shoal bass. Then a few weeks later, I
loaded up on big spots from the Upper Etowah on a Heddon PopíR. Another GRF
member from Athens swears by the Rapala Skitterpop. I guess the point of all
this is that topwater poppers, in any form, are outstanding lures for river bass
By now, youíve probably realized that I really like to
catch bass on the surface (#ís 1 and 3 are also surface baits)!
Topwater poppers are equally effective on all the black bass species and also
work well on whites, stripers, and hybrids when they are really active. I have
even witnessed three river catfish come up top to smash these lures! Topwater
poppers are pretty versatile in that they can be fished fast and loud or
twitched slowly and subtly back to the boat.
Topwater poppers are surface lures that have a concave
nose that catches water when twitched on the surface, often producing a popping
sound (hence the name). These lures are supposed to imitate a scared or wounded
baitfish floundering on the surface. The three brands mentioned above all come
in a variety of sizes and colors, and a lot of them also come with the rear
treble hook dressed in fish-attracting feathers.
BEST SEASONS AND SITUATIONS
Generally speaking, bass need to be pretty active if
they are to be caught on a topwater lure. For this reason, GRF recommends
topwater poppers (or any surface lure for that matter) when the water
temperature is 70 degrees or above. May through October is the prime season for
"chugginí" on Georgia waters, however, if you ever catch a white
bass run (normally somewhere between late March through early May) on a really
great day, tie on a small PopíR or Chug Bug and hang on!
Topwater poppers work equally well for all types of black
bass (largemouth, spots, shoal bass, redeye). From the quick shoals of the Flint
to the lazy black water of the Canoochee in South Georgia, topwater poppers have
fooled all types of bass from all types of water. The only requirement is that
the fish be fairly active.
When is the best time to fish a topwater popper? If I
think that largemouths are going to be on a feeding frenzy (like just after a
brief summer rain), I usually fish a buzzbait. If I think the bass are hanging
shallow but a little less active, I slowly twitch a topwater minnow bait. If I
just want to catch a bass on top but donít have a good idea how the fish want
their dinner served, I pull out a topwater popper and experiment.
TIPS AND TECHNIQUES
This fat Flint River shoal bass fell victim to a Chug
Bug in the Natural Perch finish last May during a downpour. May through
October is prime Buggin' time on the Flint!
See, the great thing about topwater poppers is their
versatility. Buzzbaits can only be fished rapidly, and floating minnows are best
twitched slowly on the surface. Topwater poppers are great either way!
The key to successfully fishing these lures is the
"pop" itself. Whether chugging the lure in rapid fits and starts or
using a slow "pop Ďn sit" retrieve, try and make the popper
"spit" water every time it is popped. Making a popper "spit"
consistently can take some practice, but fish seem to love both the popping
sound and the unique water disturbance that these lures can make.
While the PopíR or Chug Bug can be fished fast or slow,
I usually fish it both ways on the same cast. Cast the lure near a downed tree
or other likely holding area (hint: in current, cast just upstream and let the
lure drift down to the bass). Pop the lure two or three times, leaving 5-10
seconds in between. The important thing here is to have the lure in the strike
zone as long as possible. Once the lure gets 3-5 feet from where you think the
bass is, use a rapid-fire spitting retrieve all the way back. Most bass will hit
near their hide-outs, but a suprising number will streak out to midstream and
chase down that loudmouth, spitting minnow just to get some peace and quiet!
While the effectiveness of topwater poppers is
indisputable, opinions vary on which brand is the best. I have found the PopíR
to be easier to make "spit", but the Chug Bug has a slimmer profile
AND it rattles. I have never fished a Skitterpop, but people swear by them, and
Rapala doesnít make bad fishing lures!
The bottom line is this: find warm, moving water with bass
in it, throw them a suitably sized popper, make it spit and hang on!