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updated: 8/22/2012 2:18 PM

Topwater fishing fun never goes out of fashion

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  • Daily Herald file photoThe original Heddon Lucky1


When the water exploded, it felt as if every nerve ending in my body received an electric shock. The big bass took the lure and headed for parts unknown.

I regained my composure to do what was expected of me -- fight the fish to the end.

That was about a year ago, and now is now, with its own thrill-a-minute happenings.

I was reminded about one of my great fishing passions the other day when an email arrived from Sam D. from Bensenville: "Mike, I know you enjoy fishing surface lures and dry flies, but I haven't seen much lately about topwater angling."

Sam is right, and I apologize for the slip-up. Of course, I would rather do battle with a fish inhaling a dry fly or surface lure than any other way.

The truth is I was fishing the "slop" the other day on one of my honey-hole ponds.

The term "slop" covers a wide area of lake and pond nomenclature. Slop can be a solid mass of surface weeds, a thick cover of duck weed or algae, or a surface gathering of dead trees bunched together.

With many cases of these conditions, I'll often use weedless lures in the shape of a frog, lizard or crawfish. The bust-through action is unbelievable when the voracious fish is a big bass or pike.

I've even had several small muskies fall for the frogs, and wound up doing a major snip job on the line.

Fishing on the surface is true joy for me, especially when I am able to dredge up a strike and rekindle the age-old story of man versus fish.

It has happened throughout North America for me.

I've had huge pike follow a surface chugging-popper all the way to the boat and then try to impale itself on a treble of barbless hooks.

My luck held steady when a hefty smallmouth bass chased a Zara Spook lure and kept slashing at it until the hookup.

My 3-weight flyrod whipped a cork popper to the side of some lily pads, and after a twitch or two a jumbo bluegill decided it had enough of the teasing and fled with the offering, only to be measured and weighed a short time later.

My collection of surface baits includes the old standards like what South Bend and Heddon used to produce. One of my very favorites is the Heddon Lucky 13 and Heddon Basser.

And to round things off there's the Nip-i-Dee-Dee, a lure that really ranks at the top. Even with decades of use, the bearings on the body spinner still make that little hummer sing its way to success.

Why is this guy using old surface baits in this age of modern-day lure creation?

I like to use the old stuff. It brings me back to those days when my late father doled out lures to me from his treasured Kennedy tackle box. He wanted to make sure I learned how to use them, and I did.

Last year on Deep Lake I met Greg, who casting to a shoreline with an old Jitterbug. I kept my distance while watching his casting skills bring bass to the surface for swipes at the bait.

His final cast, just before I motored over to him, was the money cast. That one brought a 4-pound bass to the boat for a speedy release. I knew his lure was an oldie because he bragged about it.

Before it gets too cold to get out on the water, I suggest you search through your tackle bag/box and see if you can rediscover some surface lures so you can add topwater fishing to your menu of tricks

•Contact Mike Jackson at, and catch his radio show 6-7 a.m. Sundays on WSBC 1240-AM and live-streamed at

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