Time for Coastal Topwater Fishing to Heat Up

By Richie Ferndon

Much like the thrill of a rising trout slurping a dry fly off of the surface, having a redfish or speckled trout blow up a topwater bait is a jaw-dropping experience! Seeing the water explode with hopes of feeling your line come tight can easily be classified as a top pick among saltwater anglers.

With the sweet smell of spring in the air, and the blooming dogwoods, waters along the Carolina coast are warming up. That’s what it takes for our trout and reds to come out of the doldrums of colder water temperatures through the winter. I normally look for 60 degrees before trying to entice these guys in to hitting a surface bait. While I have had success in colder waters, the warming spring temperatures are taking us toward the ideal setup for some awesome topwater fishing trips.

Water temperature plays the biggest role, but there are some other conditions required for a successful topwater fishing trip. Wind and light conditions are also important factors in being able to produce topwater bites. If it is too bright, the fish will not want to look up at the sun for their prey. I don’t recommend it, but if you take a step outside to stare at the sun, you’ll probably have to look away in under 1 second. The same holds true for fish, even though they’re under the water.

The wind plays just as much of a role as every other factor. If I walk out the door, and see the tree branches moving, I’m changing tactics. In addition to simply making topwater baits less effective, the wind makes it nearly impossible to get your bait to end up where you need it. You can still make a perfect cast, and the bait can land exactly where you want; however, your fishing line will act as a big parachute, and drag your bait along with it.

Let’s say we get the perfect day to go topwater fishing…now what? You’re probably wondering what bait to use and how to use it. I like to use Mirrolure’s range of topwater baits, like the Top Dog in the 808 color pattern; but there are plenty of choices out there. Different sizes and different colors are something for you to enjoy experimenting with as an angler.

When it comes to actually fishing with a topwater bait, a little bit of experience can go a long way. The most successful technique is referred to as “walking the dog.” This is accomplished with a certain degree of feel and rhythm. Many times, I will offer topwater fishing as an option to my clients based on two things 1) # of anglers on board and 2) skill levels. The ideal topwater fishing charter will include two anglers, with just enough experience to pick up on the technique. This minimizes the number of treble hooks taking flight and provides ample opportunity for the anglers on board.

Topwater fishing is my favorite specialty trip to offer clients. Just seeing the water blow up on heated strikes, and coming tight on a few of those, is equivalent to catching 20 fish with any other traditional methods. The challenge and excitement make it an unforgettable experience. These warm spring days will have us looking for action very soon, so get out there if you’re up for it!

Capt. RC was born and raised in coastal South Carolina and is owner of Harvest Moon Fishing Charters. His grandmother taught him how to fish at the age of 2, and now he enjoys teaching others.