Mike Sweeney: Hard to replace popular Pop-R for top water bass fishing

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When it comes to top water fishing, there are some basic baits that all bass fisherman use, but one of the best for this time of year is the Pop-R.

The bait is made by Rebel Lures, but there are many different varieties made my other manufacturers.

The Pop-R, or chug style of bait, has been around for years but it still produces the quality of bite that only a top water hit can produce. The bait is simple enough and can be found in almost every tackle store around, but it is basically a round bait with a cupped front that when pulled makes a popping sound.

I have a variety of these baits in small and large and will fish everything from small mouth to largemouth to offshore with them.

When you want to fish for bass, I suggest using it early in the morning or late in the day, but never put it away because any time of day can pay off when the water color is dingy or muddy.

As a general rule I use a slower retrieve when the water is off color and a faster one in clearer water.

This allows the fish time to find the bait in muddy water and not too much time to see it in clear water. The strike is spectacular most of the time, but some of my biggest fish have come when the lure is just sucked under the water.

I also use it offshore for mahi, cobia and amberjack, but I use the extra large version that brings a huge sound and brings fish from a long distance away. I will be trolling along a weed line in a 1,000 feet of water and throwing a big Pop-R next to the grass and making as much noise as possible.

There is nothing like a 30-pound fish hitting a top water plug in crystal clear water 40 miles offshore. Try it next time you get a chance.

What’s biting, where...

The fishing report is looking awesome this week, with fish coming back to the docks in almost every marina at the beach. Huge gaffer dolphin, along with some great yellow fin and now we have a big eye bite that has picked up this week.

Oregon Inlet had big eye tuna up to 185 pounds brought back to the docks this week and some yellow fin up to 80 pounds.

When you add in the big mahi, then now is the time to stock up on the fish.

The beach and surf has been no slow going either, with some nice drum being caught on almost every beach. Keep an eye on the wind and try to avoid a north wind if you can.

It tends to muddy up the water and is slow the bite. We have been doing well on mullet, croaker and even some spot when the tide is right.

Look for an incoming tide for the small fish and fish through the high tide. The first two hours of outgoing tend to pay off as well, and you want to use bottom rigs with shrimp or squid for these fish.

The local report is looking good with largemouth hitting top water, and if you remember last week I told you to use the Pop-R in the morning.

Well, it paid off for local angler Bobby Hunt from Moyock when he hung a nice 4-plus pound bucket mouth on a Pop-R in the Northwest River this past week.

I also heard the white perch are beginning their onslaught and the crappie are still out there hitting in the creeks.

White Beetle spins with little bits of shrimp and the good old Uncle Jessie lure will bring these fish to the frying pan.

If you get out any this week, send me some pictures and a report to fishingwithmike921@yahoo.com or on Facebook at Fishing with Mike, and I will do my best to get them into next week’s report.