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5 Topwater Fishing Tips for Ohio Lakes and Ponds

These tips can help you with topwater fishing across Ohio's water bodies.

Fishing with a topwater lure is one of the most exciting ways to fish for any species that will attack a lure on the surface, including largemouth bass and northern pike.

Having the opportunity to see a fish explode on the surface of whatever lake or pond you are fishing in as it attacks your lure never fails to provide an adrenaline rush. Luckily for Ohio anglers, topwater fishing opportunities are abundant.

Here are some tips on how to improve as a topwater angler.

Be One with the Lure

This might sound like a strange tip, but I have found it to be one of the best. It especially seems to come in handy when the fish aren't biting much.

The idea behind this tip is to make a topwater lure behave more realistically. For example, if you have a plastic frog tied on, imagine what a real frog would be doing in the area you are casting and do your best to replicate that.


Don't simply retrieve the lure in the same exact way on each cast. Real frogs don't always just swim in straight lines.

Just remember that the more realistic your lure looks on the surface of the water, the more likely you are to get a fish to strike.

Bigger Lures, Bigger Fish

You would be surprised just how big of a topwater lure predatory fish will attack. The general rule of angling thumb is that bigger lures equal bigger fish. That rule tends to hold true with topwater fishing as well.

Let's say you are fishing in a farm pond for largemouth bass. If you tie on a small popper or buzzbait, you are likely to get quite a few bites if you are fishing at the right time of the day. However, the vast majority of those bites are going to be coming from smaller bass.

Getting any bites can be great fun, but a lot of anglers are after real lunkers. In order to give yourself the best shot at a farm pond's biggest bass, get a truly large topwater lure.

A life-sized plastic frog or even a rat/mouse imitation floating lure will do the trick. Cast that lure into the thickest, deepest cover you can find and prepare yourself for a real battle.

Low Light is the Right Light

The best time to switch over to topwater lures is both early and late in the day, when the light levels are lower.

These are the times when predatory fish are actively feeding and will be most willing to explode on topwater lures. However, there is another reason why low light conditions tend to produce a higher amount of topwater strikes.

When the sun is beating down on the water, it is difficult for fish to zero in on the actual body of the lure. This leads to a lot of short strikes when you can entice a fish to bite on a topwater lure during the bright hours of the day. Stick to low light conditions and you will notice a higher ratio of strikes to hookups.

Variety is the Spice of Life

One of the biggest mistakes a topwater angler can make is to stick to a specific lure for too long. You would be amazed at the difference a simple lure color change can make in topwater fishing.

On many occasions, I have fished with one lure and not gotten any strikes and upon switching to an identical lure in a different color, began to get strikes left and right. Try a variety of lures to improve the amount of bites you get.

Sometimes fish seem to want a specific action or retrieval technique. It's impossible to predict before hitting the water, but by trying a variety of lures and retrieval techniques, you will eventually hit upon the winning formula for that day and that body of water.

Patience is Key

When some anglers think of topwater fishing, they picture constant casting and retrieval of lures. However, sometimes patience is the most important part of topwater fishing.

It can be frustrating when fish are striking your lures but you are not hooking them, or when you get your lure tangled in some reeds or pads. This is simply part of fishing and is no reason to give up.

In addition to this, patience is key in one other way. One of the best topwater fishing techniques is to cast a lure to a spot where you just know a bass is lurking and then just wait. Let your lure float on top of the water right above where you suspect a bass is. Leave it there for as long as you can stand it.

Then, when you just can't wait any longer, give that lure a small twitch right where it stands and hang on. Often, that twitch will be immediately followed by a swirl of water and the disappearance of your lure.

The longer that lure sits there, the angrier and angrier the bass underneath it gets until that tiny little twitch is all it takes to set off a chain reaction, hopefully ending with you landing a big fish.


Topwater fishing in Ohio can be one of the most exciting techniques for anglers to use. That adrenaline rush you experience every time a fish hits your lure, even when they miss it completely, is absolutely worth any of the frustration that sometimes happens while fishing on the surface.

Stay patient, use sound technique, try a variety of lures, and focus on the surface at the right time and I can almost guarantee that you will be hooked for life.

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5 Topwater Fishing Tips for Ohio Lakes and Ponds