Late Spring Topwater: Dustin Wilks

Topwater is the most fun of all fishing techniques. A bass eating a topwater with a sudden explosion is what it is all about. It is not only fun, it is also a great way to catch big fish.

In the late spring, a bunch of stuff is going on. There are bass still spawning, some guarding fry, some all done, and then there is the shad and blueback herring spawn. All of these scenarios are great for topwater making late April and all of May excellent for topwater.

Here I’ll briefly go through the ideal bait for each situation.

Spawning — The Hardcore Popper as a really tight walking action with tight twitches of the rod. It does not move very far forward on any given twitch. This makes bass on the bed really mad and explode on it. I’ve already caught some of my biggest bass this year on this bait. Remember to quickly release these bass, this is not the time to put them in the live well and show them off to your buddies, they need to lay those eggs.

Guarding Fry — Most of the time it is just the male bass still guarding the babies after they hatch, but every once in a while both bass will guard them or a large male. My favorite here is the Yo-Zuri 3DB Prop. This bait rips the surface looking like a something that is eating those fry — it drives them crazy and they eat it. Poppers work here too.
Feeding bass — The Yo-Zuri 3DB Popper. It has an extended body at 3″— a little longer than most poppers and has a nice fast walking action or you can just pop it along. I like to walk it, for fish outside of spawning pockets, typically on the first adjacent point or heavier cover is where you will find them when they first leave the nest.

The Shad Spawn — This is where the traditional walking baits are best. The Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil in both 4 and 5 inch. The standard Pencil is my favorite for the shad spawn because Shad are not as fast as Blueback herring. Fish this bait early in the morning on rocky banks or clay banks, beside bushes, or floating docks and Marina’s. This does not last long, so be on the water early. I like the 5’’ when I’m specifically looking for bigger fish. The 4’’ Pencil is my most consistent topwater bait in my box. I like Bone or shad colors in this situation. If the water is really clear, some of the new colors like gizzard shad are exceptional at tricking the bass.
The Blueback Spawn. In many lakes in the Southeast U.S., Blueback herring are the dominant prey and bass have a distinct craving for these apparently tasty treats. Bluebacks are notorious for spawning on very shallow points and shoals. Long casts are often key. The Yo-Zuri 3DB Pencil Popper gets the nod here, though I mix it up with 4’’ Pencil and a soft jerk bait. The key to the Pencil Popper is it casts like a bullet, any schooling action can be met with a precise cast and a bait that not only looks natural, but has a really quick walking action. Bluebacks swim faster than shad, so use a faster retrieve.
This Spring, get geared up with these great baits for some serious topwater fun!

Multi-Species, Multi-Seasonal Hardbaits for 2021: Mark Maule

Living in the Ice Belt can pose a series of seasonal fishing challenges. Drastic temperature changes and high and dirty water are expected from the spring through the fall season. When the snow flies and ice forms, it is without question that we will see ice up to 3’ (or more) thick and actual temps down to -40. Having a host of multi-species, multi-seasonal lures can be what keeps you on fish during the most challenging of conditions, and Yo-Zuri has got it covered. Here are some of my recommendations for the upcoming 2021 kayak and ice fishing seasons.
3DB Props
The 3DB Prop will be a must have lure for me in 2021 from spring to fall as it helped me win the 2020 AOY kayak championship tournament as well as the AOY overall for my region in the tournament series in which I took part. It is a multi-species lure in that it can produce everything from largemouth and smallmouth bass, northern pike, and even muskies. The Bone and Prism Frog pattern Props are probably the most universal colors that I throw in that they can be effective in every weather and water conditions imaginable and catch fish. Other great pattern options include the Prism Gold Black and Prism Silver Black for tannic or dark-stained waters and Prism Clown or Prism Ayu for clear waters on sunny days. The key when chasing any predators with 3DB Props is listening and watching for dragonflies. The plastic prop included in the design of the lure shows Yo-Zuri’s innovative technology in its hardbaits because of how it simulates a dragonfly flapping its wings on the surface…vary the cadence with 1 to 4 cranks of the reel handle and the fish simply cannot refuse!
3DB Jerkbait 110 and 3DB Jerkbait 110 Deep
Every single trip I make in my kayak in 2021 will include the Yo-Zuri 3DB Jerkbait and 3DB Jerkbait 110 deep as they were responsible for helping me land my biggest northern pike and biggest largemouth bass of the entire 2020 kayak season. The 3DB Jerkbait 110 and 110 Deep are another exceptional multi-species, multi-seasonal lure series as they regularly can bring in northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass, and walleyes from the time the ice melts in spring until the first ice forms in late fall. The Ghost Sexy Shad, Natural Tennessee Shad, and Natural Ayu are all solid patterns whether fishing in clear or stained water for any of the mentioned fish species due to their long build, realistic patterning, and the ability to work the 110’s to 4’ down and 110 Deeps to 12’ down in the water column.
Rattl’N Vibe Mini

The Yo-Zuri Rattl’N Vibe Mini will be in my gear boxes on every kayak trip I take in 2021 as it was responsible for helping me land my biggest walleye EVER in my kayak in 2020. It is arguable that the Mini is the most versatile multi-species lure I use because I have caught everything from 4” perch to northern pike over 30” on it. The Rattl’N Vibe Mini’s versatility not only is demonstrated with the number of species that can be caught, but it can be used year-round in open water and on ice. Some of my favorite patterns are the new Luminescents because of how they glow, the UV Tigers (Purple, Pink, and Blue) because of their visibility in the water column, and Gold Black and Silver Black because of their metallic finishes. All of these patterns work great in tannic or clear water throughout the kayak season or in winter when light penetration is limited below the ice.
If you are looking for some solid multi-species, multi-seasonal hardbaits to get the most bang for your buck on your next open water or ice adventure in 2021, then look no further than the Yo-Zuri 3DB Prop, Yo-Zuri 3DB Jerkbait 110 and 110 Deep, and Yo-Zuri Rattl’N Vibe Mini.

Good luck, be safe, and tight lines in 2021!

Rattl’N Vibe- my all time favorite lure

If you told me I was going to be stranded in a remote area with only two lures to catch fish, I would without a doubt choose the Yo-Zuri Rattl’N Vibe in Matte Craw and Golden Shiner. These two have performed for me in almost every condition- and across a variety of lakes and ponds. The 3/4 oz is my absolute favorite size (although I have caught tons of fish on the 5/8 as well) There’s something special about this lure!
You can fish this lure with so much versatility too. Burn it through the water, rip it through grass, yo yo it off the bottom or even a slow and steady retrieve. It covers water quickly and is a fantastic choice for when you are fishing a new spot. It will do the work for you. I’ll send it out and pop it a few times and the weight distribution of the lure itself resembles a dying baitfish. The Golden Shiner even flashes like bait fish do. It really is fun to fish the Vibe!


I have shared this lure with beginner Anglers and even a few seasoned ones and they all sing its praises. With so many color options, sizes and it’s ease of use, I recommend keeping them stocked up in your tackle box.

There’s nothing quite like a big bass breaking the water, shaking its head back & forth and you hearing that rattle hooked up in its mouth.

Big or small, this lure catches them all!

Happy Vibing!