By Shane Beilue
Perhaps one of the most interesting things about bass fishing is the fact that you never stop learning and the bass always seems to find ways to surprise you with their behavior.
For instance, years ago, I always considered topwater baits should be used exclusively for low light conditions such as early and late or cloudy summer days – highly effective times to throw a topwater, for sure. However, I’ve grown to learn a bass will sometimes eat a topwater with vengeance in the middle of a hot sunny day in ankle deep water. I’m amazed at how shallow a bass can be during the hottest, brightest parts of a summer day; and, in some instances, it seems the topwater bite can actually get better as the sun gets higher and the shade grows more distinct.
Key areas to search out for this approach in summer are shallow pockets off the main lake with scattered brush, trees and/or vegetation that give the bass shade to ambush bait. Due to the nature of the cover, a hard bait with treble hooks just won’t get it done; however, a weedless toad like the YamaFrog is perfect for casting and winding over and through brush, shoreline grass, or matted vegetation.
One visual to look for when determining the strength of this pattern in my part of the world is the presence of blue dragonflies in the calm, wind-protected pockets where salt cedars and other brush are present. Occasionally, the bass will come out of the water to snatch a dragonfly, which is an indicator the mid-day YamaFrog bite is on. Casting to the vicinity where you saw the fish will almost certainly lead to an explosive strike.
Even if the dragonfly bite isn’t happening, running shallow pockets and casting to ankle deep water can yield a kicker fish or two if there is shade present along the shoreline. I occasionally see summer bass in a foot of water right next to the bank just sitting stationary or slowly cruising, as though waiting for an unsuspecting shoreline frog to make a fatal plunge. This pattern can certainly be hit or miss some days; however, it’s certainly worth investigating during the heat of a bright summer day.
When gearing up to throw the YamaFrog, go with a 7’ to 7’6” medium/heavy action rod and 50-65# braid. A weighted 4/0 hook or the twin hooks designed specifically for toad style baits is required to keep the toad running properly across the surface. Keep the retrieve at a medium pace – much like a buzzbait – and make sure the retrieve is directed through the thickest cover in the area that provides the most shade. White (color 036) or Green Pumpkin White (color 981) are always good choices when selecting colors for mid-day; however, there are tons of great options in the GYCB lineup.
A 3 to 5-pound bass exploding on a toad in a foot of water is what this sport is all about and is sure to make the heat of a summer day a lot more tolerable!