The fog is lifting off the surface of the calm lake, and the sun still hasn’t peaked above the tree line. These are perfect conditions for working a topwater plug near the shore for bass. Nothing is more exciting than calling a bass up to smash a lure on the surface.

Many anglers complain that they get plenty of bites but land far fewer fish than they do on subsurface lures. Their problem, according to Marc Deschenes of VIP Adventures in Summerville, S.C., is they can’t contain their excitement when they see, or hear, a bass hit their lure. 

“It’s tough to not set the hook when you see the fish hit it, especially when they hit it really hard and make a big splash. It’s exciting, especially on a calm morning, and it’s just human nature to rear back and set the hook hard,” Deschenes said.

Anglers will drastically improve their hookup ratio, said Deschenes, if they wait until the feel the weight of the fish before setting the hook.

“You don’t want to wait until the rod bows over and you feel the entire weight of the fish, but you want to feel it pulling. When you feel that, you know he’s got it in the mouth,” he said. 

And that is the time, Deschenes said, to set the hook. But even then, he said there is no reason to set it as hard as most anglers think they should.

“If you’re using a topwater plug with treble hooks, once you feel the fish, the hook is doing its job. If you rear back too hard, you’ll rip it out of the fish’s lips. Just a quick lift of the rod is usually plenty to drive the hook home,” he said.