When to Fish Topwater for a Bass

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One of the most visual and powerful kinds of fishing, topwater fishing for bass, offers a very exciting experience for anglers. This often neglected fishing style is pretty exciting and fun. However, this thrill could easily become boring and futile if you do not know when to fish topwater for bass.

When to Fish Topwater for a Bass

Most anglers admit that fishing topwater for bass can be very enjoyable. Unfortunately, a lot of people still miss out on this experience because they do not recognize the best times to fish topwater for bass. Understanding the right time to fish will ensure that every minute you spend is productive.

An image of a person fishing at dawn

When it comes to topwater fishing for bass, there is no hard and fast rule as to the exact time you should fish topwater for bass. However, there are a number of factors that must be put into consideration to determine the best time to drop your line. These factors include:

  • The water temperature
  • The clarity of the water
  • Time of the day
  • The weather, and
  • The season.

Generally speaking, the best times to fish topwater are early morning, late afternoons or evenings, at night, and on overcast/cloudy days. These times are suitable because the water is usually calm and bass are closer to the surface. Regardless, there are other times that could be equally as effective if you consider all other necessary factors.

Factors That Determine the Best Time to Fish Topwater for Bass

There are instances when you may follow the general rule as to the best fishing time for bass topwater and you may not get significant results. This is often because they are other factors that come into play.

Understanding these factors will enable you to read the water effectively and ensure that you can determine the best time for bass fishing given any unique set of circumstances. Here is a breakdown of the factors that determine the best time to fish topwater:

Light Intensity

Bass are very sensitive to light. As a result, the best time to fish topwater for them would be in low light conditions. This means that an optimal time for bass fishing would be early in the morning. During this period the light is low and the bass are closer to the surface to feed.

By late afternoon or evening, the bass come closer to the surface to feed again just as the sun is going down. If you find it difficult coming out during these periods, then you should consider fishing for bass topwater on cloudy or overcast days, especially if you are fishing in water that gets very deep.

Bass tend to behave the same way on cloudy days as they behave in other low light conditions like at dawn and dusk.

Clarity of the Water Surface

Just like light intensity, the clarity of the water surface is another factor that influences when it is best to fish. As a general principle, it is easier to do your topwater bass fishing when the water surface is clearer. When the water surface is clear, the bass can easily sight your bait and come rushing.

However, when the water surface has been disturbed and it is no longer clear, you might find it more difficult to fish for bass topwater. This is because stained waters make it harder for bass to see the bait. So, unless they are already close to the surface, you might not get any significant results.


Understanding where bass is located at a given time helps you maximize your time and effort when fishing topwater. Fishing is also better when you have bass in shallower water than in deeper waters. Since the bass are closer to the surface in the locations, they do not have to travel long distances to take the bait.

An image of a person holding a fishing rod

You should also consider fishing for bass around cover. When the weather gets warmer, and in order to catch their prey, bass tend to gather around cover and vegetation. If you are looking to maximize your time and effort when fishing topwater, you want to pay attention to these areas -shallow waters and areas with cover.

Water Temperature

Bass, just like other species of fish, are cold-blooded animals. This means that their body temperature and bodily functions are influenced by the temperature of the water and they cannot regulate their body temperature. As a result, they generally prefer to stay in warmer waters. This allows them to remain more active.

They also avoid extreme hot and cold water temperatures. This is because of the reduced levels of oxygen available in the water. As a result, the bass become more sluggish and picky with their diet. Bass will also not come closer to the surface making it harder to fish topwater for them.

As such you want to avoid the extreme temperature and look out for warm water where bass prefer to hang out closer to the surface. This temperature is also ideal for their metabolism, causing them to feed more and attack the surface more frequently.

Weather Conditions

The weather conditions can significantly impact the right time to fish topwater. Some fish, like bass have an internal barometer that helps them to sense storms and fronts. Once there is a cold snap, front, storm, or heavy rain, bass will dive deeper into the water making them hard to reach.

This makes the brief window before the cold front comes in or before a storm a very good time to fish for bass. During that period, the water temperatures rise because the wind that comes with pre-frontal conditions is warmer allowing the bass to bite more frequently closer to the surface.

Generally, you want to do topwater bass fishing on relatively calm water. If you try topwater fishing on a windy day, it would be a lot more difficult to catch bass. To increase your chances when fishing topwater on a windy day, you may have to be a lot more aggressive with your techniques.

An image of a person holding a fish


Another factor that you should consider in determining the best time to fish topwater for bass is the season. Bass behave differently across seasons and understanding these season-based behavioral patterns can help you achieve optimal results. Some seasons witness more aggressive behavior in shallow water from bass, while in other seasons, bass are idle in deep waters.

A good time to fish for bass topwater is during the post-spawn period in late spring. The bass are usually closer to the surface during this time and since they are trying to regain energy spent on spawning, they tend to bite more frequently. Summer is also an ideal period because of the warm temperature.

Towards the end of fall, the temperature begins to drop, and bass start to get idle. So you want to take advantage of the last of the warmth available in the early fall. Bass are usually slightly aggressive during this time as they are out to feed heavily before winter comes in.

Frequently Asked Question

When Should I Start Throwing Topwater?

You should start throwing topwater in early spring. This is because fish would be around the surface and strike aggressively at topwater lures and surface baits.


Fishing topwater for bass can be a really exciting experience for anglers who know when and where it is best to catch bass. The time of the day is not the only factor you should consider. All other factors, like water temperature and weather conditions, also play a very important role in making sure that you have fun while fishing topwater for bass.