The transition from pre-spawn, spawn, to post-spawn is not an exact science. When it comes to topwater techniques, these periods overlap and are far from definite. Geographical locations, the type of lake, water visibility, localized weather patterns and various other factors all make this unpredictable.
One thing is for sure, though: The period immediately after the major spawn in a lake is one of the best times of the year to fish topwater lures. Topwater fishing is not only one of the most exciting ways to catch bass, but also one of the best methods to catch quality fish, and one of the best things about it is the fact that regardless of the type of lake you are fishing, there is always some post-spawn topwater action to be found. The key to successful topwater fishing at any time is to understand which topwaters are better and when.
For me, there are three topwater categories that produce well after the spawn. They are:
Poppers or chuggers
When fishing any of these three categories of topwater lures, remember that the bite will always be better early or late in the day, or on overcast days. But what many anglers don’t realize is that topwaters will produce all day long, even on sunny days. The key is to stay with it, and realize that the bite numbers my go down, but the potential for a quality fish increases at mid-day. Additionally, although you can catch topwater fish in nearly any wind condition, days with a light wind of 5-10 mph that breaks up the surface stillness is always a positive environmental factor in topwater fishing.
Walking topwaters like the Megabass Diamante and smaller-sized Giant Dog-X are the workhorses of topwater fishing. You can cover a tremendous amount of water with them and they produce quality fish. One of the best things about a walker is that it will catch fish in really shallow water and will also pull fish up out of deeper, clear water.
Cadence is more critical in walkers than any in other category. It’s just a matter of experimentation. A good rule of thumb is to remember that the clearer and shallower the water, the faster you want to work the bait. Sometimes a steady walk will produce best. Other times a steady walk with a periodic stop will draw more strikes.
One of my favorite ways to work a walker is to make a long cast and reel fast for about 20 feet, then “kill” the bait. After that I’ll begin working a steady walking cadence. Many times, the commotion of reeling and skittering the bait along the surface and then stopping will draw curious bass from great distances to investigate.
Poppers and chuggers like the Megabass PopMax are also great post spawn choices. You will find that a popper is the most productive when fish are fairly shallow, in lakes that have water visibility of 18 inches to 3 feet. Shallow cover is excellent, and shallow grass and riprap are among the best locations for fishing poppers in the post-spawn. Furthermore, many times during the post-spawn there are big shad spawns occurring. Fishing a popper early in the morning around riprap and shallow grass edges is a deadly technique as these are prime shad-spawning areas.
Popper cadence is also experimental, but less so than with walkers. Most of the time, in clearer water, you will find a fast, skittering retrieve is best, and in water with more stain, a slow, steady “blurp/pause” will work well.
Remember, as with walkers, when fishing poppers, water clarity will dictate cadence. One of the most overlooked aspects of popper fishing is that it’s a great lure around heavy shallow cover. Many times, I like to pitch and flip the bait into tight spaces, like under docks and around bushes. A great thing about poppers is you can keep the lure in one place for a long period of time. Post-spawn bass guarding fry will also hammer a popper in these areas.
Waking baits like the Megabass Anthrax are among the most underutilized topwater lures on the market. Although these baits will produce during a small window of time during the pre-spawn, they are absolutely at their best immediately after the spawn. One necessity for waking baits in the post-spawn is clear water. Post-spawn bass will move off points after the spawn in clear water lakes and suspend while they recover. Casting a waking bait off these points will bring these post-spawn suspenders up and produce vicious strikes.
Finally, tackle selection is critical for getting the most out of your topwaters. I like a medium action rod like the Megabass Orochi Flat Side special or the Destroyer One Ten model. These rods will allow you to make a long cast, and are short enough to give you the ability you need to work the lure with quick, sharp twitches without wearing you out.
For line, I use only monofilament for buoyancy, in 12 or 15 pound test. This combination will allow you to reach the fullest potential in post-spawn topwater fishing.
Best of luck!