"OK young man," as I spoke to the thirteen year old first time Bass angler on Lake Livingston as the sun rose. "We're going to stay focused today and try to catch you a Lake Livingston trophy Black Bass. This is the time of year you can do it. It can happen. Female Black Bass have moved shallow here to spawn and there is a good chance of tangling with one. The water temperature has climbed up over 60 degrees here around these rocks. As the days warm in the Spring, these rocks hold heat, warming the surrounding water and increasing the fish's metabolism making the fish more aggressive. The game plan now before the sun gets up is to take this Popper and pitch it as close to the rocks as you can. Don't over plant (cast) and get hung up in the rocks. Accuracy in casting is going to be one of the most important factors if we are going to be successful today. We will key on areas of the rocks near deeper water and look for places where green vegetation is growing into the water."

"Now," as I spoke to the excited young angler. "The popper is a topwater bait or jerk bait. It has a cupped face that will grab water when you jerk it. You want to make it spit or pop. Throw it out and let it set still, count one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three then pop it. Just imagine that your bait is a big grasshopper that clumsily fell in or that a bird accidentally dropped into the lake. After you let it sit still for the three count, then pop it three to five times and pause briefly. Then do it again. "

"See those rocks just ahead, pitch it in there. Good plant! One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three now pop it three times. Good job." Suddenly there was a heart throbbing explosion of water behind the popper. Then I saw the green side of a giant Bass as a foaming froth of water sprayed everywhere. "He missed it," I yelled excitedly as the popper flew up into the air unscathed and settled back down. "Pop it again," I yelled out. Slurp, slurp, slurp the popper spit water, but the aggravated Bass would not be denied breakfast. The water exploded again sending out another shower of foam. This time, the Bass struck with a vengeance as the popper disappeared. "Set the hook!" I exclaimed. The battle was on. "Let off on the drag, play him down, use your rod, he's still green " I coached. The fish made a power surge under the boat. The hook set was true and the fish tired. I leaned over the boat and lipped the fish of a life time for a young man. High fives! "Good job son ," as I patted the young boy on the back. "Wow! What a fish," the young angler said, eyeing the beautiful green egg laden female Black Bass. Quickly, snap shots were taken and the trophy Bass was eased back into Lake Livingston, resuscitated and then we watched her disappear into the depths to lay her eggs and be caught again.

Poppers, Buzz Baits, Prop Baits, Stick Baits, Floating Minnows, Jerk Baits, Weedless Frogs and Floating Worms are all designed to take Black Bass on the surface. Each one has its own intricacies, but the common factor is that the thrill of a topwater bite defines Black Bass as truly a trophy game fish. There is no other bite in Bass fishing that has the explosive excitement of catching a fish on a topwater bait. It can invoke heart palpitations and leave you with trembling hands. For any caliber of Bass fisherman, beginning or seasoned pro, a topwater explosion is a memory that will not soon be forgotten.

Dave Cox of Palmetto Guide Service is a regular contributor to the Lake Livingston edition of the Texas Sportsguide.  This article has previously appeared in that publication.

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