I've made my living for years fishing tournaments, so I enjoy catching bass in a lot of different ways, but there's nothing more fun than topwater - and that may be why I like June so much.
You've still got some fish shallow enough for a good topwater pattern in the mornings, and then you can go crank for some more fish in the afternoon. The good bite will last all the way through June before it starts to slow down a little when July arrives.
The baits you use in June are a bit different than the ones you used when bass were feeding on spawning herring a month or so ago. You want to have a buzzbait, a stickbait and a prop bait tied on, maybe a double-prop bait like Rapala's X-Rap Prop. A big double-prop bait will catch you a big fish early in the morning.
I'll fish topwaters on a 6½- to 7-foot medium-action All Star rod, and I use 14-pound Trilene XT line.
It's very important when fishing topwaters to use monofilament and not fluorocarbon. I use fluoro most of the time, but it will sink, and that can pull your topwater bait down and hurt its action.
Unlike May, the topwater bite in June usually ends when the sun gets up good, unless you've got a cloudy, overcast day or some rain. Normally, I've put my topwaters away by 9 and am bringing out the crankbaits.
In almost all of our lakes in South Carolina - Murray, Wateree, Clarks Hill, Hartwell, Santee Cooper - you can catch bass offshore, and June is one of the best months to catch them on a crankbait.
I think the most important thing is to have a few baits tied on so you can fish a variety of depths. You need to go out looking with your electronics and, as good as they are now, depth finders like my Humminbird Side Imaging machine can help find a lot of stuff, a lot of cover and structure, like you could never find it before. You keep your eyes on your electronics, and when you see bait and cover that's the depth on which you need to spend most of your time.
My favorite depths to target in June are between 10 and 14 feet. The baitfish have definitely moved out into deeper water as the weather has warmed up, and the bass have followed them.
It's just about a guarantee that if you get around bait in June, you'll be getting around fish. The spawn's over, and the No. 1 thing they've got on their mind - like me a lot of the time - is eating. If you find baitfish, bass are going to be somewhere nearby, waiting for a chance to fill their bellies.
My favorite crankbaits are Rapala DT-10s and DT-14s. In June, I like to fish shad-colored crankbaits, with maybe a little chartreuse flash if you've got some stained water. I'll fish them on a big, 7-foot All Star crankbait rod with 12-pound Trilene 100-Percent Fluorocarbon spooled on my reels.
Fluoro is very sensitive, very strong - by far my favorite crankbait line. If you haven't fished a crankbait on fluoro, you'll be amazed at how good you can feel things. You can feel the bait wiggle better, feel everything it hits on the bottom, all of the cover, and it's got enough stretch that you can still land a big fish.
I fish both baits on the long crankbait rod; I don't use a shorter rod for the smaller bait. When you're fishing medium- or deep-diving crankbaits, it's all about casting distance. You're not throwing under docks or around willow trees. You're trying to make long casts, get that bait down and cover plenty of water.
I'll just about guarantee that if you head for your favorite lake with topwaters and crankbaits tied on that you'll be able to come up with some kind of productive pattern that will catch you some fish.
June is such a great month to be on the water, it would be a shame to miss some of the opportunities it presents.