By: Shaye Baker
Small poppers are great baits to use from the spring, through the summer and deep into the fall. These baits mimic a variety of different baitfish well, and their compact size makes them an easy target for bass of all sizes. This means poppers are versatile baits that catch lots of fish and big ones as well. Though these little topwaters catch fish all over the country throughout the majority of the year, there are little tips and tricks that you’ll want to employ depending on the season you’re fishing in. So today we’re going to breakdown how to get bit on a popper in the spring, summer and fall.
Spring - As the waters first start to warm and bass make their way towards the beds, they’re often still a little reluctant to eat a bait on top. Until the water gets up into the mid 50s, and really up into the 60s, it’s hard to coax a bass into biting a topwater. That being said, poppers are among the very limited few that they will eat first. The small profile of a 2- to 3- inch popper doesn’t intimidate a bass at all. And the subtle splash generated by the spitting action of a popper’s cupped mouth gives this bait just enough oomph to draw a bass’s eyes to the surface and talk it into biting. A gentle side-to-side twitch in the spring is all you really need, walking the bait nearly in place and even pausing a second or two between twitches. Bass are typically targeting shad or other small, light colored baitfish in the spring on many across the country. So bone, sexy shad and chrome color poppers work well. Fish these baits around shallow grass, docks, rocks and other cover to key in on the early spring topwater bite.
Summer - As the bass come off the bed, topwater fishing really ramps up. And though bigger baits like Spooks and Whopper Ploppers begin to catch bass as well, sticking with a popper is a great way to increase your total catch number while still fishing for big bites at the same time. Bass fresh off the bed are guarding fry, feasting on shad spawns and resting in the shade of trees and docks during the day. All of these situations set up perfectly for poppers, giving anglers a power fishing bait that still has quite a bit of finesse to it, so that you don’t have to compromise the excitement of topwater fishing for the numbers of something like a wacky rig. Once the bass spawn raps up entirely, and the shad spawn winds down as well, you can shift your focus to bluegill beds. Bluegill begin to spawn shallow in the early summer and do so all the way through the hotter months. Poppers are great baits for targeting bass relating to bluegill, as these baits appear to struggle along the surface. Mayfly, cicada and another insect hatches also happen in the summer, drawing bream and bluegill to the surface to feed. This is perhaps the best situation to use a bluegill colored popper to match the hatch.
Fall - As summer fades to fall, you’ll want to swap colors on your popper once more, transitioning from the bluegill patterns back to the shad colors as the waters start to cool. The bluegill bedding process winds down about the same time the shad push back shallow, returning from the deeper water they dwelt in all summer. Use your popper to follow the shad migration, as they make their way past the primary points, down transition banks, past secondary points and all the way back onto the flats in the ends of many pockets, sloughs and creeks. Poppers work well in these situations by again imitating a small baitfish that is either feeding or struggling along the surface, luring a bass upwards to investigate. Once the water dips into the low 50s, it’s time to put your popper down and await the coming spring.
My advice on picking the perfect popper - MONSTERBASS makes some great baits. But if you’ve read or watched much of the content I produce, you’ll know that I don’t promote a particular brand of baits, or any bait for that matter, without having a lot of confidence in it. Again, I’ve been pleased with the products this company has put out on the whole. But there is no better popper on the market, in my opinion, than their Mad Max. I’ve been fishing with this bait since before I started working with MONSTERBASS, and I fell in love with it right away. The first iteration of the Mad Max was a fantastic fish catcher that generated some big bites for me. Somewhere along the way, a new model of this bait came out, and they made a great bait even better by adding a super strong, sharp and sticky set off BKK trebles. I really like the attention to detail with the feathered hook on the back and the red hook on the front. The former is a necessity when fishing with a popper, and the latter is a nice touch and something that no doubt draws a bass’s attention towards the front of the bait. This gives an angler the best chance possible to hook a swiping bass. Available in multiple shad and bluegill patterns, you’ll find an option in the Mad Max to fish in any color water, throughout the whole topwater season. I don’t lightly promote products, even (if not, especially) for companies that I have a close relationship with, like MONSTERBASS. That being said (and said again) the Mad Max is awesome if you’re looking for a popper, and the first popper I reach for throughout the spring, summer and fall. Tie this popper on, or your own favorites, and you can have a lot of fun fishing on top throughout the vast majority of the year.
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