With summer on our doorstep for the next couple months the keen anglers of the south west will turn to one of the most exciting and visual fishing techniques around which is topwater. Not only is this a very effective technique on the saltwater pelagics that make the south west home in the warmer months but also the estuary and freshwater species. I thought I would take a look at some of the main target species over summer on the top and try give you some insight into fishing these lures and even baits too. Now this is only my personal experience so some of you might have different beliefs on what works and what doesn’t.
The species that is on the top of most anglers list over summer is tuna and kingfish so let’s start here seeing as though they can be caught on the same techniques and lures. So what makes these hard fighting pelagics so widely regarded as a great topwater species? Is it the challenge of getting one to commit to the lure and then fight them all the way to the boat? Or is it the sudden boom when they smash the lure off the surface? I reckon it’s a combination of all these features of a surface hitting tuna or kingfish that get the local anglers addicted. There’s just something about seeing that big dark colour coming up behind your lure and crunching it off the surface leaving you doubled over the side of the boat. To get to that step in the process it takes some careful planning before you can feel the rush of fighting a fish like these two on surface. The most important factor is the gear that you are using and what makes these so important. First things first and that’s the type of line that should be considered at the top of your list and that is a good quality braided line which is used as a main line. This type of braid will help you cast these topwater lures further than the traditional mono line and also has less drag in the water due to its thinner diameter. The other feature of braid is that it hasn’t got any stretch so you get more purchase when fighting the fish and in most cases a lot stronger than its rated breaking strain stated on the package. Rods and reels are also a very important part of successfully targeting these fish on topwater. Yes your heavier snapper and gummy set ups can still catch these fish but it’s the specialised rods that make the job all that bit easier. Traditionally a casting rod for surface lures is longer than the bottom bouncing rods which allows for greater control of fish once they are at the boat and also gives you a great cast in comparison. When it comes to reels the main thing is that they need to have a smooth drag and strong gear sets to withstand the force put on them by these pelagics. Topwater lures themselves is such a wide range which I haven’t got time to give the ins and outs of each type but will just touch briefly on them. The most well known type of lure down here is stick baits which are a relatively plain looking lure which can either skip across the surface in floating models or if you get a sinking one they can be fished subsurface. The idea of these is to look like a fleeing bait fish or a dying bait fish drifting down in front of the fishes face. These usually slim lures cast a long way which helps during calm days where the fish may be spooked easily. One other very effective lure is the popper which consists of a deep cone on the front of the lure and a big back end that weights the lure down when passed during rips of the rod. The cup face throws out one hell of a splash which draws fish in from a long distance and king fish find this very tempting. Sluggos are also a deadly lure to cast at both tuna and king fish and simply wind them across the surface with a varying speed retrieve.
Two other species that get peppered with topwater lures over summer are the bream and estuary perch. I’ve been chasing these fish on topwater since I was a kid and when a big fish looks at your lure it still gets the heart racing. There’s just something about having peace and quiet up the river on a calm night then boom your lure has been smashed off the surface by a hungry bream or perch. The evolution of bent minnow fishing for these two species has taken off and is very effective. These lures dance on the surface and just below if you work them properly and when paused the fish can’t help themselves. One other technique that is very effective over summer more so for bream is casting pink Ecogear grubs up into the rock walls and slowly working them out. This can produce cricket scores of fish when they push up on the edges and is one of the more visual styles of fishing in the rivers. A lure that I have only really started to use over the past couple seasons is the Jackall Micro Pompadour which is a topwater lure designed to cause lots of disturbance and get perch and bass revved up to the point they can’t take it anymore and have to eat it. These are the easiest lure to work effectively as the big metal wings on the side of the lure put the action into it providing you wind the lure at the right speed. The biggest piece of advice for the rivers on surface is lots of pauses and to wait for your topwater lure to disappear before striking as you will just rip it straight out of their mouth. Long rods in the 7ft3 to 7ft6 would be best suited to allow longer casts.
Hopefully this gets you keen to try something new this summer and have a crack at something on the top. It really is something else when it all comes together. Until next week tight lines and best of luck.