The early bird gets the worm, but early rising anglers put fish in the boat when summer is going full bore.
Afternoons may be cookers with 100 degree heat. Most mornings are pleasant for being on the water casting top-water lures, hoping for a bite from Mr. Big Bass. First light to sunrise is a prime window for a splashing attack from a largemouth, smallmouth or spotted bass.
During summer, Dwayne Culmer is on Beaver Lake at that magic time when night turns to day in the gray light of dawn. He’ll cast his pet top-water lure, a Zara Spook, along rocky shorelines near Rocky Branch park close to his home.
A purple plastic worm is Culmer’s go-to lure 90% of the year. It’s top-water time the other 10% in August and into September. He and a fishing buddy enjoyed a cool and productive morning in late July, catching and releasing 10 bass including a 3-pounder. All hit Culmer’s Zara Spook or his friend’s smaller top-water temptation.
Mornings aren’t always like this. Culmer and others will testify that fishing in August and September are the toughest months for catching bass at Beaver and other reservoirs.
Nick Frakes of Rogers agrees. He’s top contender at bass tournaments on the lake. Frakes said summer is a challenge for the best bass chasers. If anglers think August fishing is frustrating, Frakes said, just wait until September.
“September is the hardest month for bass fishing on Beaver Lake,” he testified.
In tournaments, Frakes usually fishes deep brush piles and rock piles. But bass can also be caught on the surface, he said, from first light to sunrise. After sunrise, fish along shorelines that are in the shade.
When working top-water lures, Frakes likes to walk the dog. What? That’s bass fishing lingo for giving a top-water lure, particularly a Zara Spook, a back and forth swimming motion by popping the rod tip while retrieving the lure. It takes some practice to learn how to walk the dog, but it can draw thundering strikes from big, aggressive bass, especially in the dog days.
Frakes recommends white lures on the south end of the lake where the water isn’t as clear. Go with a grayer shad color in the super clear water of the lake’s north end.
The region’s small lakes are hot spots for summertime top-water action. Lake Sequoyah in southeast Fayetteville is among the best. It’s where Mike McBride of Winslow has been fishing for decades, since he was a boy. The lake has lily pads and weeds, unlike Beaver Lake.
“When you’re fishing around lily pads and grass, a buzz bait works best,” he said.
Buzz baits use a propeller to make a splashing ruckus when retrieved that draw reaction strikes from bass. When fishing around stumps or logs, McBride recommends a popper-style lure such as a Rebel Pop-R. These have a concave face that makes a gurgling, splashing sound when cranked in with pops of the rod tip.
Other styles of top-water lures are easy for beginning anglers to use. Many are designed to be cast and retrieved just by cranking the reel handle. Brands such as a Jitterbug or Red Fin are good examples.
Summertime and the living is easy, so the song goes. Not so with summer bass fishing, but casting top-water lures can bring a positive note.