Making a Splash

by Pete McManus

I don’t leave my house to fish without a polaris style popper from May 1st, till Halloween. They cast a mile. They’re easy to use.(if its splashin, its working!) And the hook ups on the surface are for sure the most exciting way to catch a bass and bluefish from a boat, or the shore. Easily one of my favorite day time lures to throw.

For me, casting distance is usually the deciding factor when reaching for one of my top water options. For shallower water, or situations when the fish are particularly picky, I’ll go to a floating popper allowing me to work the lure slowly, and even let it float motionless. When the water depth isn’t a factor or distance is the most important factor, I have a couple 3, and 4 ounce poppers that sink fast, requiring a quicker retrieve  and more rod action to keep the lure splashing on top. The heavier lures cut through wind much better than any floating options I’ve found. The fast sink also seem to be the better choice in heavy surf. I’ve even seen them successfully jigged in the canal as an attempt to show the fish a unique presentation.

Colors will vary depending on the bait you are trying to match but bone color variations seem to be a winner. No matter the season, weather, or moon phase bone colored topwater lures catch fish. Yellow is hard to beat for targeting bluefish, or matching any size bunker.
I always attempt to vary the speeds and styles I work the lure. Rod tip up,slow reel and a stiff ,steady twitch of the rod tip creating a large splash is the most common way to retrieve the plug. Try mixing up the reel speed. Changing the timing of the rod twitches. And even letting the lure float for long periods with  an occasional hard twitch to create a big splash. The idea of these presentations is to replicate a medium size bait fish feeding on smaller bait at the surface. Predators like bass and blues are triggered by the prospect of an easy meal, and attack. Occasionally coming  completely out of the water to take your offering. If a fish misses, or you drop a fish, continue on working the lure. Don’t give up on a cast till the lure is back at your feet.

Find yourself a popper that matches up with your rod and allows you to feel confident casting. Remember, even when there are no signs of fish activity on the surface, fish will come to the top to smash your offering! Keep casting!


Pete McManus is an angler and photographer from Cape Cod. You can see more of his work on Instagram – @pete_mcmanus_

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