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Topwater Time!

Catching striped bass on topwater is what I dream about all winter long.

With all that is going on in this scary world, we have to do what makes us happy, as long as it is done responsibly and safely. I have been off from work since the middle of March due to the very rapid outbreak of COVID-19 here in Connecticut. I have basically been in self-quarantine with my girlfriend, only leaving the house for groceries, the occasional hike, and you guessed it, fishing. I have been fishing all alone since things got real, and I have been going on weekdays primarily to avoid crowded boat ramps and crowded waters. If you know me, you know I'm a germaphobe, and this is a terrible time to be a germaphobe. Sitting inside however, on an overcast, mid April day for me in not an option. I've been taking my health, and everyone's health for that matter, very seriously. Since this whole thing started, my fishing trips consist of driving to the spot (fairly locally), going fishing, and going straight home. No stopping at Dunkin' Donuts or the deli. It is a weird time for everybody, and the more we practice social distancing, wash our hands, and use our heads, the faster this whole thing will be over with. Anyway, on to the fishing...


Launch Time: 9:30am

Conditions: Overcast to Sunny, Light Breeze

Water Temp: 52-54°

Water Clarity: Very Clear

Tide: End of Outgoing

This trip should have been a total flop for how late I got started. The night before, I checked the tides, and for some reason, I misread the chart and thought high tide was at noon. The high tide was at 6am. Great. I didn't have high hopes for getting any surface action. I started out jigging a Lunker City Fin-S Fish on a 1/4oz head in some deeper water, but had to move out of the channel a couple times for some bigger boats to come through. I didn't mark much, and I figured with the commotion from the boats in this confined area, that it was a bust anyway. I poked around in a couple other high percentage areas with nothing but unanswered casts. I tried the jig, a weightless 7" Fin-S Fish on an Owner Beast 8/0 hook, and a Storm Arashi Top Walker.

As I fished through the spot, my confidence was with the Top Walker. I got to my favorite area, took a long cast, and as I was working the plug, my rod loaded up and I was fighting a fish. No topwater explosion to speak of, as the fish slurped the plug right off the surface. A little guy, but I was happy to have one react to the topwater presentation. As I released the fish, I noticed the sun starting to peek out of the clouds and I knew my time was limited. My very next cast was well received by another bass, but this one chased it all the way to the side of the kayak and really blew up on the plug! This is the kind of stuff I dream about while tinkering with lures and looking at old fish photos all winter long! This was a better fish too, and actually took a bit of drag. 30" on the dot, and a very satisfying catch on my first topwater striped bass trip of the year.

30" on the dot. Great blowup, and great fight.
Here's a better look at the Storm Arashi Top Walker. I replace the stock hardware with upgraded split rings and VMC's.

I called it quits after half a dozen more casts, an annoying increase in boat traffic, and a decrease in cloud cover. Not to mention by now the tide had just about slacked out. I was happy to get a couple on a short trip.


Launch Time: 8:30am

Conditions: Overcast to Sunny, Windy

Water Temp: 48-51°

Water Clarity: Silty to Clear

Tide: Incoming to Outgoing

With a little shred of confidence behind me from my previous trip, I had higher hopes for this one. I knew going in that there would be a drop in water temp and a bit more turbidity than last time, but I was up for a scavenger hunt. This trip was at a different spot too, and it can give the option to target other species if the stripers aren't cooperating.

As I worked my way into the area I like to fish, the rising tide was pushing very stained (downright muddy) water in. It was cold too, only 48°. I knew if I could get ahead of the mudline, I would be able to find clearer, warmer water. Well, I was right, but it didn't really pay off like I had hoped it would. I worked tirelessly throwing the Arashi Top Walker and the 7" Fin-S Fish, and only had one hit on each before the tide slacked, and I missed them both. Luckily, I came across a school of white perch and was able to bend a rod on a couple of them before the school scattered.

Chunky white perch are always a welcome sight at the end of the line.
Lunker City's Fin-S Fish in Sexy Shad is a fantastic herring imitation.

I fished through the slack tide, with not much to show for my efforts besides a few yellow perch on a jerkbait and a few small schoolies on jig and plastics and the weightless 7" Fin-S Fish. As I headed back to my launch spot, I stopped on the most high percentage ambush spot this area has to offer. By this time, the tide had pushed the murky, cold water out and replaced it with clearer, warmer water. I took a long cast across the big flat with the Top Walker. At this point in the day, I was just going through the motions, not even expecting to raise a fish. As I was working the plug back to the kayak, I happened to look away from what I was doing to look at my fishfinder, and I hear "BOOM.. BOOM"! A good sized (relative term) fish had smoked the plug twice, but missed. Or I missed. I have to wonder if I had been paying attention, would I have hooked into that fish? Anyhow, this sudden activity prompted another 45 minutes of casting the Top Walker and the Fin-S Fish in this area. I was finally rewarded with a 27" fish on top, which I was more than happy with, considering nothing else noteworthy had happened all morning.

This fish seemed like a needle in a haystack, but I think the lower water temps had the majority of fish shut off.

I left feeling good about my results, being successful in catching stripers on topwater offerings on 2 out of 2 trips so far. I've been told by a few sources that this year's herring run is off the charts. Hopefully as the water warms and the holdovers are joined by fresh fish, we have a phenomenal spring run! Stay safe out there.


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