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TOPWATER POPPER

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 in Georgia.

    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!

 
 

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