Tips for topwater pelagics
SUMMERTIME in the southern states is usually peak season for hoards of small, yet feisty topwater pelagics. Salmon, rat kings, bonito, tailor, frigate mackerel and more, depending on your location, are found within easy reach of most capital cities and provide loads of fun on light gear. Here are five top tips for getting amongst the action.
Match the hatch
These fish have a reputation for being fussy. Often they're feeding on small bait fish and that creates a problem for lure casters. Find out what they're eating and match it with a realistic lure in terms of length, shape and colour. There are plenty of metals and plastics on the market that match baitfish of all shapes and sizes.
Find the fish
Everyone knows birds signal feeding fish, but it doesn't end there. Many pelagics, depending on the species and bait, are clean eaters and don't attract the frenzy of birds that often follow schools of tailor or tuna. You'll need to watch for subtle signs of fish on the surface; a small splash or shimmer of bait can often indicate the presence of a larger school of fish. Good observation skills equals more fish.
Use your sounder
While topwater action is fun, sometimes the fish don't cooperate and will feed deep down. That's when a quality fish finder and knowing how to use it is important. Look for bait and fish, and drop your lure down deep while waiting for the fish to resurface.
Nothing scares topwater feeders more than a noisy boat. Keep your distance and respect other fishos. Don't ever drive or troll through a school of feeding pelagics. Note the direction they're feeding and intercept them at a distance. This is where good casting skills help catch more fish.
Many of these fish will respond to slower retrieves. Casting and cranking flat out may work, but offering a slow sinking plastic or slowly retrieved metal can prove just as deadly. Experiment with different retrieves until you crack the code.