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Topwater Bass
Bob R. Myers - Field Editor

For many bass tournament anglers, topwater fishing has almost reached a state of near extinction, and that's a shame, for topwater fishing can provide consistent action, yield big bass, and give anglers anticipated excitement better than any other lure.

Tournament bass fishing is anything but relaxing, and any sport that has the potential to pay purses in the thousands of dollars is simply work.

Very few tournament fishermen rely on topwater baits and most are more concerned with banging out seven or eight casts per minute with a spinnerbait or crankbait than taking the time to thoroughly work out an area with a topwater lure.

To the non-tournament bass fisherman, however, topwater fishing is undoubtedly the first choice of the majority, especially during the summer months.

Topwater bass fishing is one of the best ways to introduce a youngster or newcomer to the sport of bass fishing. A topwater strike from a bass, regardless of the size is exciting.

A buzzbait, Pop-R, Jitterbug, or an old Hula Popper plops slowly across the calm water surface, and suddenly, without warning, the angler hears a loud noise, the water explodes, and the thrill of feeling a bass on the end of the line excites both novice and pro's alike. The excitement of the unexpected is what this type of fishing is all about, and that which makes this the best of bassin'

Topwater bass fishing in Oklahoma usually begins around the first of May and continues throughout the year up into late fall. During the hot summer months, topwater fishing is usually best at daylight and again late in the evening. On cloudy or windy days, topwater fishing can be good the entire day.

Although there are numerous ponds, creeks, and watershed lakes that are prime waters for topwater enthusiasts, three lakes located in the southern part of the state have a particular reputation for being good topwater lakes.

Lake Murray near Ardmore, Lake Texoma along the Red River, and Lake Arbuckle east of Davis are all prime topwater lakes throughout the summer and up into the fall months.

Lake Murray is perhaps one of Oklahoma's most scenic lakes, and contains some of the clearest water found anywhere here in the Sooner State.

Because of the water clarity in Lake Murray, you must fish some type of cover, and that generally means mossbeds, cattails, stickups, or rocks. Good areas that always seem to produce bass are the upper ends of both the west and east arms of the lake. Both of these areas have good water color due to the amount of vegetation present. The many rock ledges and points found down around the dam are also good bets for some topwater action.

Early morning or late evening, I like to work a topwater lure around the many rocky points found on the lake. On a bright sunny day, fish will feed on these points up until 8 a.m. or 9 a.m., but then because of the clear water, you will have to seek areas with some form of cover.

Sprawling Lake Texoma along the Red River, is another favorite with topwater fishermen, and for good reason. The lake contains miles of rocky shoreline, flooded willows and rocky points.

Texoma is so vast in size that it would be impossible to adequately cover all of the prime topwater areas. Some of the most common and locally popular areas are Cumberland Cove, Newberry Creek, Bridgevew, Washita Point, Buncombe Creek, and the islands, specifically North Island and Treasure Island.

A reliable pattern on Texoma that often can mean the difference between success and failure is fishing the boathouses found all over the lake.

Arbuckle Lake, much like Murray has really clear water and miles of rocky shoreline. This lake has some quality smallmouth bass and when the brownies are on a topwater bite, the fishing can be awesome.

Prime areas on Arbuckle are the main lake bluffs up in the Buckhorn Creek area, the rip-rap found along the dam, and the shoreline in various areas of the lake where you find grassbeds and laydowns.

The lake each year gives up some really big bass, and lot of these big fish are taken on topwater baits.

Some of the more popular topwater baits on these lakes, or for any of our ponds or flood control lakes here in Oklahoma include the Rebel Pop-R, buzzzbaits, Storm's Chug Bug, Heddon's Zara Spook, the Splash-It by Don Iovino, and the Tiny Torpedo.

My favorite topwater bait is Don Iovino's Splash-It. This is a great topwater bait on all of the lakes that I fish and when both the largemouth and smallmouth are schooling it will catch lots of fish and out performs any other topwater bait that I have ever used. The Splash-It comes in a wide variety of colors, but the best ones for this area are the gray ghost, pearl/chartreuse, baby bass, bluegill and a new color just introduced called the Miracle Minnow.

In lakes that contain lots of shad the best color is the gray ghost and this color works extremely well on Murray, Arbuckle, and Texoma. The gray ghost Splash-It has won a many a bass tournament on Texoma with anglers catching limits of smallmouth weighing better than 3 pounds each.

If you are interested in the Splash-It, contact me at 405-238-2243 or by e-mail at or Don Iovino at<.

If you like to fish buzzbaits on windy days around rocky points or over the tops of grassbeds, good colors for area waters are white, chartreuse/white or chartreuse. I prefer the larger size 1/4 or 3/8-ounce Terminator buzzbaits when it's windy. When fishing clear water on calm days, or when fishing for smallmouth at Lake Murray or Arbuckle, I like the new Terminator Tiny-T buzzbait which weighs 1/8- ounce. I have caught some really nice brownies and Kentuckies on this small buzzbait, especially during low light conditions when fished around rock ledges. I usually throw the white color of the Tiny-T, but when it's cloudy or the water stained, the white/chartreuse color works best. Don't be afraid to throw this small buzzbait, it will catch both numbers and quality fish.

Topwater fishing for bass is basically a very simple form of angling, for it allows the angler to impart in each lure the action he desires. Granted, you may not win many bass tournaments with a topwater bait, but a topwater strike is something that carries on an age-old tradition and gives many anglers the greatest of bassin' excitement.

Remember to practice catch-and-release.


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