This story mainly concentrates on topwater action for smallmouth bass at Flaming Gorge Reservoir.
Although larger fish are scarce, Flaming Gorge hosts a very large population of smaller fish, usually 10-12 inches long. This makes Flaming Gorge an excellent place to practice and hone your skills.
The basic ingredients needed are some smaller-sized lures, good quality line, and a decent rod and reel setup. The lures I recommend are: tiny torpedoes, woodchopper, crippled killer, small buzzbaits and small floating rapalas.
When fishing a topwater, wait until you feel the fish on the line before setting the hook.
Be prepared for explosive non-stop action. The best times are in the mornings and evenings, although fish can be caught all day. Look for structure types that will house smallmouths, such as rocky shorelines, gravel bars, submerged islands and sand. Cast your lure up to or over the structure (up to shore, over islands, etc.), let it sit for a few seconds and give the lure a twitch or pop.
Stick baits (zara spooks, puppies, etc.) require a little extra work and finesse to get the proper action. These types are my personal favorites. To start, cast as you would the other types of topwater lures over structure. I usually start with the rod tip about level with my ankles and then give the rod a pop towards the water (down) and then lift the tip back up to ankle level.
Reel slack in and pop again, repeating the procedure back to the boat or shore. If the fish are aggressive, it probably won’t take much to get plenty of action. If they are sluggish, it may take some finesse to catch them. Vary speeds, try louder or quieter pops, increase or decrease the time between pops.
Experiment until you get it right. Believe me, you’ll know when you get it right. What happens is that when you start at level and pop your rod tip, it causes the bait to move to one side. When you lift the tip back to level, the slack in the line lets the lure move to the other side. This is known as “walking the dog.” This action takes a lot more practice than other techniques using other types of topwater baits. But with practice you can walk the bait around structures for maximum effect. Remember finesse. Sometimes this can make the difference between catching fish or going home with skunk on your face.
Practice is an important key to successful fishing anywhere and for any kind of fish. This is why Flaming Gorge is a good place to go. You can practice there and almost always catch fish. You need to catch fish in order to build confidence in the baits you are using, and progressively build your skills.
Not many other types of fishing compare with topwater fishing for action and excitement. And it all happens on top and right in front of you. These techniques also sometimes take trout, so give it a try.
Hopefully, this information will help people get interested in warmwater fishing. One thing I would like to stress is catch and release. If the fishing is going to be good or stay good in the future, it is up to us as fishermen to help protect it. I have not found that “catching a limit” is any more fun than catch and release. Please practice catch and release and have fun.