Best Water Temperature for Topwater Bass
The short answer is: Early Spring, usually between February and March depending on where you are in the country. Of course, it is not as simple as checking your calendar and starting to fish topwater accordingly, bass don’t work like that!
There are a few factors to consider when determining whether or not it is the right time of the year to throw topwater but from a seasonal point of view, the most important of these is water temperature. Bass tend to start hitting topwater baits when the water warms up to around 60-65 degrees and of course, this level is reached at different points depending where you are.
Go ahead and check the water temperature of the lake you are fishing in and use this as a guide as to whether or not you should be using topwater presentations.
Now if you have access to a fish finder of any sort, you will have no issue checking water temperature. For bank anglers and anyone else without a fish finder, something like this Yacumama Digital Thermometer is perfect and inexpensive.
Start Slow and Speed up Through the Season
So the water has hit 60 degrees and the topwater bite is starting to come into play. Resist the temptation to start burning poppers, frogs, and ploppers along the surface as fast as you can. While bass will be more active and ready to rise to the surface at these temperatures, they are still not at peak performance and therefore you need to adjust your presentation accordingly.
Whatever topwater bait you decide to use during this time, work it slowly. Make subtle twitches with pauses in between and keep your bait in the strike zone for extended periods of time. This will ensure that your bait still looks like easy prey and that is irresistible to a still-slightly-lethargic bass. As you move into late Spring and Summer and the water warms up accordingly, you can start using a faster, more aggressive action to entice those seriously dramatic strikes.
Why Do Bass Only Start Hitting Topwater in Spring?
Bass are cold-blooded creatures and this means that when the water is cold, their metabolism slows down and they become lethargic. Long story short, they stop feeding aggressively and this is why faster moving baits like topwater become ineffective in cold water. It is simply too much effort for a tired, lethargic fish to hit something on the surface.
When the water starts to warm up, bass’ metabolism speeds up and they thus become more active and aggressive. When bass come out of winter they are also depleted and ready to feed and this only further drives them to hit baitfish imitations such as topwater baits.
There are so many intricacies around topwater fishing but if you are looking for a general rule of thumb as to when bass start hitting topwater, spring time when the water hits 60-65 degrees is the answer. Go ahead and get yourself a device that can measure water temperature and get ready for some topwater explosions!