Top Choice: Guide targeting tailing hybrid striped bass with topwater lures

Published on Thursday, 24 July 2014 10:00 - Written by By STEVE KNIGHT, outdoor@tylerpaper.com

COOPER — “Want to do something different?” guide Tony Parker asked Sunday night.

Curious, I asked what he meant.

“You want to catch tailing hybrids on topwaters?” he asked.

He had me at hybrid striped bass and topwaters.

I have only gotten to fish hybrid stripers and stripers on topwater lures once or twice in 30 years, and it is absolutely addictive. So Tuesday morning, I was on the road to Cooper Lake.

Apparently in the excitement of thinking of hybrids on topwaters, I didn’t completely hear everything Parker had said, like tailing hybrids. I heard it, but I assumed that meant schooling fish like you find on Tawakoni in the summer.

When Tyler’s Patrick Campbell and I got to the lake, Parker quickly clarified what he meant as we tied Torpedoes on our line.

“They are like tailing redfish. You can see them coming through the water and you cast out in front of them, and when they get to it, twitch the lure. It is just like redfish fishing because it is all about casting accuracy. If you don’t put it in the right place, you are not going to catch them,” he explained.

On the water at 8:30, Parker ran across the lake and then eased up onto a flat in 19 feet of water. Within minutes he pointed to the water and asked if I saw the nervous water.

“There is one right there. See it?” he asked.

“You’re nuts,” I replied. “You are making this up.”

Without a point of reference to know exactly where he was looking, the guide picked up a rod and cast. Boom, the fish exploded at the bait as soon as the two crossed paths.

A minute or two later, Parker spotted another fish. This time I could make out the wake as the fish swam from the left.

Parker said he had been watching the phenomenon for years on the lake, but never really put two and two together about what was going on. On occasion, he would cast toward the breaking water, but it never really clicked until Sunday when he could see the fish racing through the slick water. He and two customers boated about 30 fish from 3 to 5 pounds by the time the action quit around noon.

“I wish I knew what they were doing. The only thing I can guess is that they are up feeding on grasshoppers. This lake is covered with grasshoppers in the afternoon,” Parker said.

Tuesday morning started with a light chop on the water from a single digit southerly wind, but by 9 the lake was flat and the wake from the fish was noticeable. It was so visible, we were picking it up 50 or more yards from the boat. With the fish making a beeline to somewhere, the best option was to cast out in front of the fish and wait in ambush for it to arrive. An errant cast to close and they were gone.

The key to the morning was tuning out the rolling carp and other fish splashing the surface and concentrating on looking for a wake that looked like a torpedo moving through the water.

Also, it was important to drop the bait well out in front of the fish. We attempted to chase down several fish so we could cast in front of them. On one, Parker had the boat running at over 5 mph and the fish was running side by side with us.

We made a move and in the flatter water what had been casts and misses suddenly became strikes. It wasn’t a normal fast-action, high-numbers kind of morning for hybrids. It was more like spot and stalk where the risk reward was high.

Excited by the exploding hybrids attacking his bait, Campbell learned to slow down from a worm hook set to more of a sweeping action where he was still twitching the bait, but not yanking it out of the fish’s mouth. In about two hours of fishing, he ended up with about eight of the 15 or 20 fish boated.

“This would be perfect for fly fishermen. Someone that knew how to cast could wear them out, but you would have to come on a calm morning,” Parker said.

The fly fish mentality might also lend itself to this type of fishing because 30 casts could be a good morning.

One time, however, Parker and Campbell doubled up on fish, and while they were trying to get the hooks out of them I boated a third.

While we were using Torpedoes, their light weight did limit our ability to make long casts. Another drawback was their weak treble hooks. Time will tell, but other heavier topwaters like Zara Spooks will probably work just as well. In fact, Parker also used a Fluke because he had longer distance with it.

Because he really doesn’t know what is happening or why, and Parker isn’t sure how long this pattern will last. It could end this week, but he expects it to continue through the summer.

“This is thinking out of the box,” said Parker, who has been having a strange year on the lightly fished lake.

One fish on a topwater was more like out of this world.

For more information on fishing Cooper, contact Parker at 903-348-1619.

 

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