This is the time of year when I sometimes have to force myself to fish. Yeah, I know – tough decision. But it’s hot and it’s sticky and, well, I just really don’t feel like sitting out on a boat in the blazing sun on the lake all day.

But when Steve suggests an evening run up Lake Champlain for smallmouth, sometimes I’ll bite.

There were evenings, back when we had the Bass Tracker, I would let him go fast enough to feel the wind on my face and that would cool me off just a touch, but the death grip I had on the gunwale negated just about any comfort I received from the breeze.

These days, it’s a canoe. And we’ll save it for the nights when the lake is like glass. That’s when it’s fun to pitch topwater lures for smallmouths.

I can still remember watching my first smallmouth inhale a topwater lure. I don’t know what I was expecting, but it wasn’t the explosion from beneath a mat of lily pads. The quiet evening was quickly erased by not only the bass leaping out of the water, but my screams and me practically jumping out of the boat. I think I even startled Steve, who knew what to expect.

Nowadays, even as somewhat of a veteran on the water, it’s still catches me off guard when the water explodes.

You can really get wrapped up in the type of rod and the size of the line and the bait, but really, all you need is a something that will drag across the top of the water. I like to use a buzz bait because it’s a bit more visual and I can see the bass take it. Steve will tell you (and I won’t argue) that I can sometimes have a hard time feeling the strike and setting the hook. That’s not a problem with topwater bass. Even I can see this strike.

Spinnerbaits and jerkbaits can also be fun and you never know, even though you’re targeting bass, other species – perch, northerns, we’ve even had long-nosed gar – will go for a spinnerbait.

There’s no denying that the bass fishing on Lake Champlain is some of the best in the country; the visiting tournament pros will tell you that. But what you have – and the pros don’t – is the time to sit back and relax while you’re out there. You don’t have to scream down the lake at 50 mph. Just take your time, work the shallows.


Until that smallmouth explodes from the depths.