Thursday, July 25, 2013

Thursday Tips: Convert Misses into Catches

It might be the hardest thing in fishing. A fish blows up on a topwater plug, throwing water in every direction, and you have to act like it didn't happen. More often than not, jerking a bait away or stopping it in place will deter a fish from hitting again. If you don't feel the fish, it probably didn't get the lure, and your best reaction in almost every case is simply to keep working the bait at the same cadence that prompted the initial strike. That's easier said than done, especially when a largemouth blows grass everywhere to attack a frog or a striper or redfish delivers and absolutely explosive attack. If you can keep your cool and keep working the bait, stay ready. The follow-up strike, if it occurs, will probably be less vicious but more efficient.

If no follow-up comes, you often can get the fish to bite again on a subsequent cast. Don't throw the same lure, though. Keep a follow-up lure rigged and nearby at all times, and use it. For open water settings, a soft-plastic stickbait or jerkbait rigged weightless tends to work well. For such an offering, cast directly to the spot where the hit occurred, let the bait fall and watch for the line to jump. Another good option is to cast a lipless crankbait or other shallow subsurface offering past the initial point of attack and swim it quickly through that zone, keeping it just beneath the surface.

If you're working over cover with a frog or a buzzbait when a fish hits and misses, follow up with a weightless, weedless worm or jerkbait, cast past the spot and worked with quick twitches of the rod.

Then, if they don't take the follow-up lure, try your original offering one more time before moving along.

One of the most frustrating things about topwater fishing is the fish's propensity to hit and miss, but if you learn to react properly and to make good follow-up presentations, you'll up your catch rates substantially on some days.

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