Summer trout fishing isn’t trout fishing without testing out the early morning topwater action. Catching fish using surface options can lure in any angler into waking up super early, because a topwater strike will wake an angler faster than a 20-ounce cup of coffee. 

But these days the traditional topwater offering has changed. 

Topwater lures mimic either an injured or fleeing baitfish. They quickly capture a fish’s attention through sound, vibration and the silhouette skirting along the surface. Since most topwater lures float, they can be paused at any time to entice strikes. All offer a different degree of these attraction mechanisms, but some combinations will produce more strikes than others. 

Traditionally, lipless stickbaits like Heddon’s Zara Spook or MirrOlure’s Top Dog series have been parts of most saltwater anglers’ tackle boxes. When retrieved along the surface with a steady, back-and-forth twitching motion — aka walk-the-dog — any redfish or trout will hear the dinner bell and call for breakfast. 

Beyond the walking stickbaits, are poppers with concave faces that are retrieved with a jerk-and-pause routine, normally much slower than stickbaits. In certain situations, popper-style lures are more effective than the stickbaits.  

While stickbaits and poppers will produce strikes, some new lures are out with a different combination of topwater characteristics that can bring a gator trout to her breaking point. 

The newest craze is River2Sea’s Whopper Plopper, which has a rear blade that spins on the retrieve, creating a surface disturbance similar to a freshwater buzzbait. It is versatile, giving anglers the opportunity to use a wide variety of retrieves. Originally built for freshwater applications by Larry Dahlberg, the Whopper Plopper is a deadly option for surface action. Retrieved with a steady, jerking motion, it imitates a finger mullet trying to avoid being eaten. The noise and vibrations produced are perfect for coaxing a trout into mistaking it for a meal.

Another topwater marvel just on the market is D.O.A.’s PT-7, a floating, soft-plastic stickbait embedded with closed cell foam. Shaped like a traditional stickbait, the PT-7 is completely weedless, with a hidden hook buried in the soft plastic. It can be thrown deep into the grass and worked slowly into open water using a walk-the-dog retrieve. This retrieve is deadly for trout and other predators lurking along the grass edges because it mimics a real situation that is sometimes what is needed when the fish are finicky. The PT-7 also allows anglers to insert glass beads inside the lure to attract fish.