Let’s face it, if most anglers were given a choice on what type of lure they’d choose to catch trout, I would venture to say that number would overwhelmingly suggest patrons shop in the topwater aisle. For most of us there’s just something engaging when a trout nudges a bait into the air, then as soon as it lands he commits. It’s can be as subtle as a gentle swirl or an obnoxious kinetic, but the bottom line is the pendulum swings to either side and all we do is reap the rewards of the visual apex.
On a recent trip back home to New Orleans, my dad and I got to do something we honestly don’t do enough anymore – go fishing. After some study of the wind forecast over a few cold ones, we decided to go fish our home waters of Port Sulphur, Louisiana. What aided our decision was the solid incoming tide, and predicted gentle SE Breeze. All the ingredients were right for a strong spring topwater bite and big trout flipping over the gunnels. In short, I didn’t sleep. One of the topwater’s I chose was a River2Sea Whopper Plopper 90F. That night, video’s of California Delta Anglers connecting with Double digit bass replayed in my mind, except I could see those shades of green turn to dots of black - I was ready.
It’s can be as subtle as a gentle swirl or an obnoxious kinetic, but the bottom line is the pendulum swings to either side and all we do is reap the rewards of the visual apex.
After a gorgeous boatride with a man I admire, we pulled up to some of the last remaining structure on the fringe of the Gulf of Mexico. An oyster laden bottom that we once knew as a shell island became the target and sporadic pilings earmarking the boundary set the playing field. After a few solid fish on a jig to know the team was ready, we switched over to the Whopper Plopper and connected with the first of a half dozen trout. A great sight and fulfilling to know that many of these freshwater baits apply to saltwater. Given that, in the next few paragraphs, I’ll document the pro’s and cons about converting this lure to the salt environment. Let’s first discuss design and capability.
UNIQUE DESIGN & CASTABILITY
Immediately after unboxing this bait, you can’t help but admire the paint or color combinations. The paint job on these baits is nothing short of fantastic. River2Sea has great color combinations that match both fresh and saltwater forage and even after a morning of swipes, hits and takes, there are very few markings on the bait, unlike a she dog. Additionally, the tail is super unique. A heavy gauge wire extends clean through the back of the bait, which affords the tail to spin around that axis. This accomplishes 2 things. First the insane sound and action, and second the flexible tail acts as a weedless propeller. Another upside to this bait is its castability. It’s a compact bait and with the Stainless BB River2Sea added on the back of the bait, it cast tail first without spinning or helicoptering.
As I’ll cover in the finale of this article the bait has incredible versatility. You can swim it (like a buzzbait), twitch it (like a Heddon Torpedo) or a combination of the two (MirrOlure prop bait). Never have I caught a trout on a buzz bait, not do I anticipate, but over the course of my life, my dad and I used to decimate the trout on the old MirroLure prop baits. The updated prop style aspect of this bait gives great sound and visual appeal when both actions are combined. All of the fish my dad and I caught were either on the pause or just as you went to twitch/swim. Rarely, if ever, do I expect them to hit it swimming, and the same held true with the old prop style baits.
SIZES AND TERMINAL COMPONENTS
River2Sea offers 3 different sizes of the whopper plopper, the 90, 130 and 190. The 90 is the one my dad and I used and I love this little bait. Its 3 ½” long and weighs a 1/2oz so you can cast it all day without fatigue and also know that fish, both big and small, have a bait size they feel comfortable committing too. For me this is paramount when experimenting with new techniques/baits. The 130 is 5” in length and weighs an ounce more than the 90, and to be honest this is comparable in size to a one knocker, but heavier in feel. I would definitely throw this on the TX flats, especially in search of a big bite, but its not so large where it could find a spot as an everyday starter. The 190, to me, is ridiculously big even for trophy trout. This bait is 7 ½” long and weighs 2 3/4oz, which I understand is applicable to the CA Delta and Falcon lake but as a wadefisherman, my shoulders would fatigue after an hour of using such heavy tackle. In short, not realistic in my opinion.
Outside of the sizes, another impressive aspect of the bait is the quality terminal components. As mentioned, the paint job is fantastic, but the hooks are of equal quality. Out of the box, the baits come with Gamakatsu Number 2 Black Nickle hooks and from dealers like Tackle warehouse, you can even upgrade them, but honestly there is no need. Also, the eyes are custom into the mold and won’t fall off and the heavy gauge wire going through the back of the bait shows no sign of compromise.
CONS & ADJUSTMENTS
Although I’m super impressed with its performance, it has room for improvement. One of the things my dad and I teetered with after the trip was adding sound to the body cavity. Retailers do sell rattling Whopper Ploppers, but we wanted a little more especially since this bait doesn’t draw a reactive strike from trout while its swimming. How we achieved that is we drilled a single hole on the dorsal of the bait with a 12/64th bit and added 3 small BB’s and sealed it watertight with Goop. Now not only do we have action and noise while the bait is swimming, but when we pause it, its still working, especially in choppier conditions.
Another Con is cost, each whopper plopper will run you anywhere between $12-15/piece - almost double Skitterwalks and She Dog’s. Certainly a factor to consider long term, if anyone decides to make these a main staple in the arsenal.
Lastly, I had grandeur visions of this being my ultimate topwater bait. That concept classifies, being able to swim it, pause it, twitch it and walk the dog. Using a cadence or a combination of those components while fishing, I feel gives an angler the upper edge, and something fish have yet to see. The whopper plopper cannot and is not designed to walk the dog, and although I’m a little bummed, it’s still a great bait.
So in conclusion, would I use a whopper plopper for speckled trout with consistency? Yes! Like any bait, it has its limitations and optimal throwing conditions, but I really like the ability to swim the bait, pause it, and then subtly twitch, twitch...like clockwork, those fish would hit it and commit with authority.
As it is most times we get to share a boat, it was an absolute blast getting to fish with my dad again, especially on our homewaters of Port Sulphur. Even though we caught a few fish, which was lagniappe, using the River2Sea whopper plopper was a great way to pay tribute to the prop style baits of yesteryear. We both agree that these baits are worth a shot, and despite the advancements in technology, it’s a bait rooted in “old school” drawing strikes from curious and aggressive trout lurking below. So next time you’re looking for a new topwater consider this bait labeled as “outside the box” and sharpen a new tool with ingenuity and creativity. After all it may lead you to that next gator.
As always I hope this was helpful.
Tight Lines and God Bless.