Topwater fishing for largemouth bass is addictive and absolutely awesome! Whether you are fishing heavy vegetation, visible targets, or open water, nothing compares to a largemouth exploding on your favorite lure. All across North America, the sound of bluegills smacking on the surface around weeds and lily pads is unmistakably rhythmic. Our first inclination is to throw a topwater frog, but there’s a new player in town, the Live Target Sunfish Hollow Body.
Facts of Fishing host, Dave Mercer, was blown away when he first saw the bait. “When you pick up that bait and look at it, visually it’s pretty stunning. Its action gives you enough confidence that you will keep fishing it to figure out how you are going to catch fish on it.”
Key Fishing Conditions
Mercer has confidence in the Live Target Hollow Body Frog especially when fishing it around structure and vegetation. With the Live Target Sunfish, he finds himself fishing the bait in places he never thought possible. “Because of the way you can work the Live Target Sunfish topwater bait, and the way it skips under trees and docks, and the things that it does, it’s a bait that I’ve come to throw in a lot of situations,” Mercer said. “Any time that I am in fishing less than 7-feet of water, it’s a key bait for me, even in open water.”
Walking the Bait in its Place
“It seems like every time I fish it, I’m learning how versatile it is,” he said. Mercer pointed out that most hollow body baits are restricted by a skirt on the back which adds a lot of action to it yet also acts as a parachute that keeps the frog connected to the water. “If you feed this bait slack line, when you pop it, you can actually spin this bait so it will pivot right in its place and spin back around. I’ve worked for up to 45-seconds to a minute without moving, in a 2-foot box,” Mercer explained.
“My theory is that when a fish slaps at a bait that it is trying to eat it. It’s doing that for a reason, to knock it under the water, whether it is a lure or a live prey, its stunning it and hopes that it will spiral down so that it can be eaten,” Mercer said.
When guys think about baits to use for bedding fish, it’s always subsurface as Mercer points out. “Sometimes people forget that the biggest edge in fishing is surface and air. Fish are tuned to respond to that since they are little. If you are a little fish that doesn’t respond to the surface, you get eaten by a bird!”
He also noted that especially on southern lakes and some lakes in Ontario, Canada, that one of the greatest threats to bedding bass, is sunfish. To capitalize on that, once the season opens, he plans on popping that bait back and forth over top of a bed to agitate a largemouth into striking.
Livetarget Sunfish Hollow Body video - pro angler, Dave Mercer host of Facts of Fishing THE SHOW busts some bass.
The Allure of the Sub-Surface Roll
When you take a good look at the Sunfish, the detailed finish is awesome and that was intended with good reason according to Mercer. “I think we underestimate how much of the bait that fish see. That sunfish totally exposes its side as it rolls over. Fishing is a 3d world and we look at in 2d from the surface. Colour is key in order to match your bait to the resident sunfish population to the body of water you are fishing.”
Working the Bait
When working the bait, Mercer will try to invoke the hypnotic side-to-side walking action that is known to evoke vicious strikes. When he gets near overhanging trees, he’ll pop the bait real quick 5 or 6 times to invoke a fleeing action. Mercer will actually make the Sunfish jump out of the water to further exaggerate the fleeing effect.
Regardless of whichever soft hollow bodied bait he’s throwing, he always works the bait with the rod tip up. In doing so, it forces him to lower his rod while reeling down to the fish, loading the rod, and setting the hook forcefully.
You can employ a traditional side-to-side action by moving it an inch on each side or make it walk much wider at 1- to 2- feet.
Mercer favours the super high-speed Shimano Metanium XG spooled with 65-pound Power Pro Maxcuatro line strung on a Shimano Expride 7’3 MH that boasts a soft tip with lots of backbone and the ability to skip baits easier. When he’s fishing in the nasty stuff, the Shimano Poison Adrena 7’6 XH gets the nod.