If you're currently fishing either Table Rock or Bull Shoals the two words in the title are just about as important as putting gas and oil in your boat.
For that past two and perhaps 3 weeks we have seen some very good top water activity on both lakes. Most of these are single strike fish or at the most perhaps 2 or 3 chasers. Most times they are singles within a group. By this I mean if you see a chase it is probably a single fish pushing the shad. At one time there may be several pushers, but they may be separated by 10 to 50 feet.
They are running lightning fast and will usually grab their goodie in either a single push or maybe a triple push. This means urgency, getting the bait weather it be a top water bait or a swim bait, or even perhaps a Dixie Jet, to the fish as quickly as possible is of the upmost importance. Not only is urgency very important, accuracy goes hand in hand with trying to be proficient at capturing these top water Rocket Ships.
They are up and down and down and up right now, depending on the day from 5:30 till 8 AM and if there is a breeze and some clouds they may stay up most of the morning.
Here are a couple of tips, when down fishing and waiting for surfacing fish, keep your chaser rod and bait within easy reach. Keep it with about 12 inches of line extended past the tip of the rod to the bait and just let the line and bait hang over the edge of the boat with the rod laying as it would on the deck when you are traveling. Don't lay it across the deck, it is a great way to hook it on your back cast and to also trip over it. "Experience speaking here."
As soon as you see a chase reel in the bait you are fishing as quickly as possible. ie Burn that Sucker in. It you leave it in the water unattended some sneaky fish will take your junk. Put yourself in a proper casting stance and launch your bait in the direction the chase or chasing is taking place. Ie use Kentucky windage to throw ahead or to the nose of the fish. If you throw behind him you missed. If you make a poor cast, don't fish it in, burn in that throw and try and make a more accurate one. When you throw to a swirl, throw a long high cast, don't try and bullet cast to the circle. If you do, this is almost an immediate backlash. Take a high arch and it will land past your location and reel or swim the bait thru or ahead of the circle.
When the fish takes either the top water, the swim bait or the flutter spoon the number one rule is " DON'T JERK--DON'T JERK---DON'T JERK---DON'T JERK. get the point? If you jerk the fish won't. Simply increase your tempo on the reel handle and lean back on the rod. A snap or a foot setting jerk will not only lose the fish but can do yourself or your companion very serious hard with all those deadly hooks traveling back at you at light speed. If you don't hook yourself or your buddy, most often the bait will slam into the side of the boat and shatter costing major bucks, as these top water baits are pricy.
If your lucky enough to get that stinker to the boat be very careful about bringing him or her aboard. They can be a very mean passenger. If you swing them look for either hooks in the seats or your leg. Be careful with all those sharps.
Take a little time and practice casting for distance, as they are always at maximum throw. Make sure your reel is set as well as it can be. Every morning take a practice toss or two just to see that the spool is flowing smooth and not to slow or fast. Don't need a backlash during the heat of the battle.
If your accurate and be quick but don't hurry, you will more than double your top water day just by being ready and acting with accuracy and speed.
Get out there and catch them, fishing is as good as it will be for a spell.