|When all the Ripples Die in Savagery|
Topwater Techniques from Pro Larry Nixon
Ultimate topwater technique for tough times, from famous pro Larry Nixon
There's something about the perspective of an experienced fisherman. Somebody who knows that, in order to really fool a big fish, everything has to be right.
When it comes to topwater fishing, legendary pro Larry Nixon has a trick that puts fish in the boat when conditions are really tough. This tactic has put so much money in his pocket during top-level tournaments that, at first, he is reluctant to reveal it.
Details of this technique were perfected over a period of years. "It came to me because it had to," says Nixon. "When you're in the middle of a tournament and the weather turns the fish off, you still have to find a way to catch 'em."
Setting the Scene
We've all been there. Water temperatures have cooled off, and so has the bite. Shallow fish were going good for a couple days, then things changed. At first, stiff breezes usher in the transition, but then the wind lays down.
It's not windy anymore, but the fish are not in the mood.
When this happens, many anglers vacate shallow water and try to finesse bites with jigs and other 'vertical' presentations. Nixon has found a way to coax bites from sluggish fish that remain shallow.
"When the water conditions are marginal-and by marginal I mean 55-62 degrees, and it gets calm," begins Nixon, "I can pull out one certain lure and catch a limit before my partner can blink his eyes. I'm talking about post-frontal days, when you swear the fish wouldn't bite a topwater."
There's more to the situation.
Fishing is all about situations.
"Even though they're not feeding good, those fish are still shallow," explains the Bee Branch, AR pro. "What I do is take out a regular floating Rapala (he uses size 11, the smallest one with three trebles), and put it on a spinning rod with 6- to 10-pound line, real limp monofilament.
Mastering the Technique
"I cast it out and let it sit, forget about it for at least 10-15 seconds, until the ripples all die away from it. I promise you, any fish close enough to eat that thing knows it's there, and he's turned around and looking at it.
"That fish is not in a good mood, but the lure has his attention. After the ripples die away, give it a little twitch. Don't jerk it under the water; just twitch it once, real easy, then let it sit. Don't move it again until all the ripples die away again."
It's at this time, while the lure is motionless on the surface, that most bites come. "There's something about the flash and roll of that bait, even when you just barely twitch it," says Nixon. "It's still the most awesome minnow bait ever built. When it's just sitting there, they'll come up and suck it under, and they take it all the way in. You almost always get 'em hooked good."
This is a presentation that demands accurate casting. Nixon wants the lure to land smack dab where the fish is sitting, because in order to remain somewhat efficient with his time, he only gives it this one twitch in which to produce.
"With this cast," he says, "on that flat water, I never go all the way tight against the bank unless there is fish-holding depth all the way in against the bank. I put it right where I think the fish is going to come from. I do this a lot around cattails, pad edges, weedlines, stuff like that. Or against pylons or riprap, but I still put it where I think the fish is living.
"That lure lands so softly, that's why it works for this. They won't hit an ordinary minnow bait if you fish it like this, because they land on the water too hard and spook the fish. Believe me, I've tried."
In many cases, Nixon says, fish come up and take the lure before he even twitches it that first time. "You're working on his patience level, in a way," he says. "You put that thing right where he's living, and it splashes down just loud enough to get his attention. It looks real even when it's sitting there on the surface, so he starts easing over there. You'll catch a lot of fish before you move it at all."
Nixon says it's an "inefficient use of your time" to fish the lure in this manner beyond the first twitch-although, again, he does wait for the ripples to die away a second time.
"I only twitch it once (on each cast)," he says. "After the rings go away that second time, if nothing hits it, then I reel it back to the boat, working it like a jerkbait. Then I cast it to another spot where I think a fish might be."
Nixon relies on two primary color choices. "In clear water," he says, "the silver with black back. In tannic-looking water (stained, but still fairly clear), that's where I go to gold with the black back. I call that 'dark, clear water.' In muddy water, that's not a situation where topwater is going to be very effective. You have to have sight visibility to fish this way."
As famous as the floating Rapala is, Nixon is surprised at the number of times he will switch to this tactic in competition and watch his co-angler scramble to dig one out of his tackle stash. "Most guys in my boat don't even have one anymore," he says with a fox-like chuckle. "But I bet they do if you check their box the next day.
"All I can tell you is that it saves a lot of bad fishing days for me."
Note: This article was crafted by the Rapala Pro Staff. For
more fishing insights, go to www.rapala.com.