Is there any other species?
We have lakes in my area that are motor-less and ones that are a free for all. I think i have figured out that using topwater in the motored lakes with high traffic is dam near useless. Is this a real observation or is it just me??? I have had this same experence on for motored lakes as i dont visit them as often, but i dont seem to have the same issues on my normal lakes.
Down here on some of the heavily pressured lakes, the fish do tend to sulk in quieter areas and you need to put in extra effort to work out when they are feeding more actively. I would think it's a fairly common situation; imagine what it must be like with all the motor traffic and sounders pinging all over the place. Enough to put anyone off their food. A lot of blokes are now using Hydrowave technology to simulate feeding activity and encourage the fish to cooperate.
Even on bodies of water with unlimited HP boats, fish will still hit on topwater. Give it a shot during the times where boat traffic is low. Coincidentally, those times are the same times that the topwater bite is at its best. Very early morning, and late evening/dusk.
There's so much boat traffic in the lakes around here, the fish get conditioned to it. If a boat comes right over the top of them it may put them down for a few minutes, but they'll get back after the shad.
I fish Pop R's off the grass lines on the river, which take a beating in the summer. I fish late in the afternoon with good success. The traffic has died down some by then, but is still there.
We fish Barkley Lake in Kentucky all the time with the top water lures and it gets a ton of boat traffic every single day during the normal fishing season .. and we still kill them on top water .. But, the fish have to be hitting top water plugs at the time .. and the first hour to hour and a half after sunrise is generally the best .. but I've caught a lot of fish on top water down there at mid day as well .. it just depends on the activity of the fish and if they are feeding or not .. granted the more activity a lake has the shorter your window will generally be .. but they will still hit top water.
It really depends what the norm is. If there are boats buzzing around all day, fish wont mind too much. I have seen weird times when a normally busy lake isnt as productive when the lake is quiet. I think they get used to whatever goes on.
I think the real issue is that there are so few nice days in the Seattle area that when the sun comes out people churn up abandoned water to a froth and I should be happy any bait is working.
As has been said, you have to get out early or late because that is when the topwater bite is usually best anyway. I've caught fish on some of the busier lakes around me with plastics during the middle of the day while jet skis are speeding over my line. The baitfish won't be up top very long while boat traffic is around them. I would use a dropshot or anything lower in the water column during the middle of the day in high traffic areas.
I used to fish a lake with lots of boat traffic and they key for a good topwater bite was be on the lake early. When it was still mostly dark and just starting to get a light was when it would start and less than an hour after the sun starting coming up it would be over just when most of the bass boats would be launching.
Very early and very late are reliable times, but I've had good topwater action on even heavily trafficked lakes at all times of day, although not usually where I'm incessantly eating wakes. Fish will still use the surface as an edge they can trap prey against--it's just their nature.
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