“In our household, there was no clear line between faith and fly fishing. We lived on the junction of nice trout rivers in western Montana, and our father was a Presbyterian minister and a fly fisherman who tied his personal flies and taught others. He advised us about Christ’s disciples being fishermen, and we had been left to imagine, as my brother and I did, that each one first-class fishermen on the Sea of Galilee had been fly fishermen and that John, the favourite, was a dry-fly fisherman.” ― Norman Maclean, A River Runs By means of it and Different Tales

If you don’t perceive the soul-awakening thrill of a topwater chew – certainly, if you don’t really feel it deeply in your bones – then you definitely and I are by no means actually going to attach. No, I’m not a type of purists who solely fishes floor lures, or who claims that “one chew on a topwater is best than 10 on a worm,” as a result of I merely just like the artwork of catching manner an excessive amount of to be that hardheaded, however I dream about floor strikes each when my eyes are open and once they’re closed.

Which means I’ll throw a popper, a plopper or a buzzbait lengthy after most individuals have set them down, on the off likelihood {that a} large largemouth is mendacity in wait and nonetheless wanting up. It implies that I nonetheless kick myself for not throwing a topwater mouse final summer season in Alaska, whereas my spouse switched from subsurface choices and caught the snot out of rainbows, Dolly Vardens and grayling on a small fly-in stream. It’s additionally why till just lately I assumed that Amazonian peacock bass had been the ne plus extremely of fishing greatness, the last word topwater ambush predator.


Then I went to Panama. And I caught rampaging tuna on high.

I’ll by no means be the identical.

To look at acres of 15- to 50-pound tuna exploding on balled-up bait is thrilling sufficient, however when a type of explosions is in your lure, there’s that temporary interval of questioning in case you actually simply noticed what you thought you noticed, adopted by an prolonged interval of panic while you’re unsure who’s hooked who. Over the course of 4 days of fishing with Captain Shane Jarvis of Sport Fish Panama Island Lodge within the Gulf of Chiriqui, I acquired my repair of topwater strikes. Now I’ll save my pennies to get again once more, however till that occurs, I’ll apply tuna classes realized and relearned onto my native bass waters. Listed below are 5 that acquired ingrained into my grey matter.


1. Preserve it transferring – When the primary tuna hit and missed my Yo-Zuri popper, I ended it to offer him an opportunity to get his wits about him and relocate it. “Preserve it transferring!” Captain Shane yelled. Certainly, it was the identical instruction I’d been given in Brazil (albeit in Portuguese). It’s all concerning the chase for these predator species, and whereas bass generally love a paint-drying-slow retrieve, and trout might get pleasure from a flawless lifeless drift, predators are used to chasing down their prey. You’ll be able to’t transfer a topwater quicker than your quarry can swim, so trigger a ruckus, make noise and allow them to relocate your lure.


2. Solid lengthy, solid precisely – Typically the tuna had been exploding on baitfish or squid proper under the boat, and different instances they had been 40 or extra yards away. Within the latter case, you needed to get your topwater of their grill proper the place the motion was occurring. Even probably the most frenzied fish will flip down a straightforward meal if there’s a neater one available. Observe your casting, particularly with lures and displays which might be outdoors of your wheelhouse. There have been three of us chucking large treble-hooked baits and 3- and 4-foot leaders in shut quarters and nobody acquired hooked, and all of us acquired loads of fish to the boat.


3. Coloration usually doesn’t matter – We caught tuna on chrome poppers, yellow poppers, black poppers and a white one with a purple head – all with comparatively equal success. It’s straightforward to fixate on particular patterns, however do not forget that normally the bass, tuna or trout can solely see the lure’s stomach. Fancy paint jobs are considerably of a waste. Deal with gentle or darkish colours relying on the solar penetration or attempt to “match the hatch” in the event that they’re consuming one thing particular, however don’t obsess.

4. Keep forward of the fish – This was probably the most aerobically difficult fishing I’ve ever finished. We’d see birds and dolphins working within the distance, both with our eyes or with radar, rush over there, pop up unto the entrance deck and solid at boiling tuna. In the event that they didn’t chew in two or three casts, we’d relocate them and grasp on for expensive life as we sped to the following boil … usually 5 or 6 instances sequentially earlier than hitting paydirt. The lesson realized is that you may’t be the place the fish had been yesterday, an hour in the past, or perhaps a minute in the past. You need to be the place hungry fish are headed.


Verify your {hardware} – Any fish, from a pond bluegill to a thousand-pound “grander” marlin, will exploit weaknesses in your gear, and each tuna and bass are not any totally different. Begin with topwaters with good trebles and cut up rings (and wire-through development, as acceptable) and test them after each fish and each snag. A bit little bit of upkeep and vigilance is a small worth to pay for the fish of a lifetime.

I’m heading out within the bass boat this weekend.

I’m haunted by tuna.

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