Shortly after arriving at Turkey Fork Lake, University of Southern Mississippi bass team member Daniel Roberts stepped on deck, put the trolling motor down and began casting near a patch of grass.

Roberts worked his SPRO frog in a slow, rhythmic, walk-the-dog pattern back to the boat. Suddenly a hungry bass exploded on the lure only inches from the bank.

The young angler set the hook like a seasoned pro, and drove the hook deep into the jaw of his first bass of the day. The resultant battle was a sight to see as Roberts wore the tenacious bass down.

Though we were fishing in extremely hot conditions, Roberts had established a solid topwater pattern that didn't wane even through the midday hours.

"I like to give the bass something different to look at," he said.

Now fishing a frog is nothing new and something many of the bass in Turkey Fork have surely seen, with acres of lily pads to fish, that's for sure. Roberts, however, takes a good topwater lure, fine-tunes it, and uses a different approach about when, where and how he fishes it.

Though the lake had more than its share of anglers on this hot summer day, not many were fishing in 3 to 4 feet of water with topwater baits.

Moving toward the upper end of the lake, Roberts continued fishing his frog around and along the outer edges of weeds and pads while targeting any openings in the vegetation. We hadn't gone too far before another hungry bass smashed the lure, sending it airborne from beneath the pads. The pads were so thick that the bass couldn't get a clear shot at the tempting frog.

Never missing a beat, the exuberant angler continued working the vegetation while walking his prize frog around, over and through the pads. In short order, another bass smashed the lure in a small opening between the pads.

Roberts popped his whip and set the hook deep, an instant before the lunker bass buried down into the salad patch. This bass was no match for Roberts' muscle and braided line as he pulled bass, grass and pads all the way to the boat.

The fish was promptly netted, photographed and released.

"I like to use the Stren 50-pound braid because I can cast the frog back into the toughest cover possible with no fear of losing a nice bass," Roberts said. "If I can't get him out, or if he's a monster, I'll just keep a tight line and bring the boat to him."

While we also fished a few different types of cover during our trip, our main focus was on fishing frogs in the salad patch. Roberts quickly showed me that bass will bite topwater even during brutally hot conditions, even during midday hours. Though the bite might not be as good at times, it may even get better right around noon time as it did during our trip.

Though the upper end of the lake is very shallow, it does have excellent cover that provides great bass habitat and action.

Turkey Fork also has an abundance of points and ledges that hold good concentrations of bass if you prefer fishing near banks, points or even in open water.

"I like to fish a variety of lures when I fish the points and drop-off areas," said Roberts. "I'll fish crankbaits, worms and even jigs when fishing those areas."

Although Turkey Fork has a wealth of fishing opportunities, Roberts prefers staying in the salad patch and working a variety of frogs and plastics in and around all manner of vegetation. By staying in 3 to 4 feet of water and working areas that are overlooked by most folks with a different technique, he is consistently successful at catching Turkey Fork bass.

If you want to try out a different lake this fall, give Turkey Fork a shot and try a few of Roberts' favorite spots, and then find similar areas of your own. Chances are, you'll be glad you did.

 

No. 1: N31 20.360 x W88 41.891 - Leave the landing, turn right and go north a short distance until you get to the first point on the right.

"Stop about a cast off the point, and work the point and ledge until it drops-off into deeper water," said Roberts. "I like to work this area with crankbaits and worms first and then move up and fish the edge of the grass."

After crankbaiting the submerged point Roberts pulled out a SPRO frog and started combing the shoreline with pinpoint accuracy. Before we went very far, Roberts bowed up on a bass right off the edge of the grass line on a frog. I followed up with my first bass of the day on a Zoom tube after missing a strike also.

A few minutes later, Roberts put his second bass into the boat, and things were heating up. Anglers should work the small cove thoroughly before leaving as bass will feed in the shallows during the early morning hours. We caught or missed fish all around the small cove before moving on.

 

No. 2: N31 21.153 x W88 42.233 - After leaving point one, travel due north past the no-wake buoys on the north end of the lake until you get to the pads. Stop on the right side at a small pad island, and fish the pads.

"I'll fish the edge of the pads around the island, and then when it gets really hot on up in the day, I'll fish the thick pads," Roberts said.

Roberts like to use a bronze eye junior SPRO frog and a punching rig up in the day. He picked up on the punching-rig technique while in Florida fishing a tournament on Lake Okeechobee, and has found out that it works well on Turkey Fork when the bass get under the lily pads and mats during the hot part of the day.

Before leaving our second point, Roberts made another cast and a bass smashed his frog with a vengeance. He quickly set the hook and landed the bass shortly thereafter before releasing him to grow up some more.

 

No. 3: N31 23.739 x W88 42.259 - Stop No. 3 can be accessed by continuing to fish your way along the edge of the pads for another 150 yards. This area is another spot that holds bass in and around the pads.

"I like to fish a SPRO Frog Jr. and a Jr. Poppin Image around the pads in this area also," he said.

Roberts continued fishing the area while combing the pad edges and hitting all likely looking pad holes and open spots in the pads. Occasionally, a bass would slam into the lily pad that the frog was sitting on and knock it out of the water.

 

No. 4: N31 23.462 x W88 42.314 - Travel about another 150 yards up into the far end of the cove, and fish the outer edges of the pads targeting any potholes, edges and opening that you can spot.

While we worked this area, we noticed several cranes feeding and fishing as well. If there are cranes in the area, you can be sure that there are baitfish, and if baitfish are there, you're sure to find bass.

"You hear that sucking and popping sound?" Roberts asked. "That's bream popping the surface and feeding on something under the pads. I like that sound because it means food for bass."

As we continued fishing the area, we spied a long-necked white crane and wondered how it could swallow a fish with such a narrow neck. It didn't take long for the answer to come as the giant bird speared a bluegill with its beak.

Continuing on, Roberts sent the frog on a long cast right into a small opening in the pads, and - wham! - another lunker bass had supper, or so he thought. Roberts set the hook and strong-armed the bass out of the salad patch and into our boat.

Later in the day, we came back through, and I caught my largest bass of the day at 11:20 under blazing-hot conditions on a black Scum Frog.

 

No. 5: N31 22.185 x W88 42.331 - Leave the upper end of the cove's pad edge, and fish back along the western edge of the pads. Continue fishing around the edges of the pads until you get to another hotspot about 200 yards south of No. 4.

As we slowed our fishing to a crawl, Roberts really worked the surrounding pad field thoroughly. The bream must have been feeding in this area also as they were really popping and sucking things from the pads.

On one cast, Roberts pitched his black frog a long distance, and let it sit for a second before rearing back on the hook. I hadn't even seen a thing hit the bait.

"That goggleye sucked my frog under, and I set the hook and jerked him slam out of the water," said Roberts.

Yes indeed, the bream were really feeding in the area, and amazingly, one even tried to kill and eat a large frog, too big to go in his mouth.

As we neared another boat with occupants acknowledging their bad luck on the day, yet another lunker bass smashed Roberts' frog, and the angler put on another exhibition on how to catch and land hot-weather fish on topwater baits in 3 feet of water, during midday no less!

 

No. 6: N31 21.553 x W88 42.142 - Leaving No. 5, head back south until you get to the no-wake buoys that form a line across the upper end of the lake.

"There's an old roadbed that runs across the lake here, and you'll find a creek meandering through the area that provides edges or drop-off areas that hold bass," Roberts said. "This is a community hole where you'll almost always see several boats fishing the area."

And true enough, we watched boats come and go all day in the area, and even saw a couple of folks catch bass while we were fishing nearby.

"I like to fish crankbaits and shaky head worms in open-water areas like this," Roberts said.

 

No. 7: N31 26.556 x W88 42.289 - Leave 6 and go almost due west across the lake in the cove on the western side of the lake, and stop right in front of the small island. Fish out front of the island, and work the area about a cast or so away.

"I like to fish a shaky head worm and mid-range crankbaits when working the shallow water right off this island," he said. "I usually get a bite and catch a fish or two in the area."

 

No. 8: N31 27.175 x W88 42.060 - After covering 7, head back south until you get to the third point on the right on the western side of the lake.

"There's a creek channel with 10 to 11 feet of water that runs right near the point," Roberts said. "I'll start with a crankbait first and follow up with a Carolina rig or shaky-head rig. Bass will gang up off the points and along the creek channel right off the point."

 

No. 9: N31 27.356 x W88 41.912 - Leave point 8, and head toward the dam until you get to the marker buoy right out in front of the landing.

"There's a deep hole right around this buoy, and bass will stay in the deep spot or along the edge at times," said Roberts.

The hole is about 15 feet deep and 10 to 15 feet deep along the edges, which makes for some fine fishing at times. Anglers should concentrate on fishing deep-water lures such as deep-diving crankbaits, worms and Carolina rigs in this area.

 

No 10: N31 27.438 x W88 04.129 - Leave point 9 and travel due west across the lake along the dam until you get to the cove on the western side of the lake, just north of the dam. Here you'll find a wooden pier and brushpiles located just to the north and west side of the pier.

"You can see some of the brush sticking up out of the water, but most of it is submerged," Roberts said. "Work the brushtops real good, and cover the area thoroughly until you've hit all the sunken brush."

Worms and jigs are the ticket to catching bass in the tops, and occasionally anglers will be able to entice strikes from topwater lures in the fall when the water cools off and the bass are in a feeding and chasing mode. Otherwise, feed them real slow when fishing the structure in this shallow water.