Captain Steve Chaconas
Nothing more exciting than topwater bass strikes! One of the most popular lures is the old fashioned popper. For the Potomac River, poppers work once springtime water gets up to 65 and in the fall down to the upper 40s! Summertime its a better high tide, clear, calm water bite. Early morning hours are good. Late afternoon, just before dark provides an hour or less topwater actionagain, with higher tides. When the water is lower, its really tough to use them as the sub-aquatic vegetation is too close to the surface, although, low tide edges can be productive.
Spitters like Lucky Crafts G-Splash are great under ideal clear calm conditions. But, for the tougher times, Manns Chug N Spits are a bit bigger and louder.
For either technique, use 10-pound test monofilament line. Thinner line will not grab water, thus sinking or inhibiting lure action. Also, a softer tipped rod allows more accurate casts, and doesnt put too much pressure on the smaller number 6 trebles. Medium might be too soft, but a medium heavy rod too stiff. Try something in between. I like a longer rod7 or longer. This makes for longer casts and its easier to power fish to the boat. If you need to be more accurate, try a 66 rod.
I tie directly to the bait, sometimes adding an oval split ring to allow some give making them easier to walk. The idea behind poppers is not to force fish chase them, but to encourage fish to come up off the bottom to attack. Baits traveling across the surface too fast sometimes dont allow fish time to react.
Adding a good chicken feather treble to the back hook gives more action while sitting. A simple reel and pull, then stopping pulls feathers together, then releases them to create a subtle action that encourages fish to come up to eat, not being spooked by another pop. Particularly helpful to get fish to come back, when they arent committing.
Its up to you to create the right action to get fish to bite. Start slow, then speed up. If water is very clear, very calm and its overcast, then you might end up going a bit fasterfor less optimal topwater situations, you might have to slow down to entice fish to bite!
Capt. Steve Chaconas is a Potomac bass fishing guide and BoatUS Ask the Expert