Generally low precipitation totals, a harsh early spring temperaturewise and a fairly low-snow winter have combined to make this year one of the more promising open-water seasons in some years, especially for top-water aficionados like yours truly.In many, if not most, years, snow melt and harsh and ongoing rains can stain area waters to such a degree that top water baits are of little use for most of the summer, all of the spring and largely an afterthought come autumn. Last year was a perfect example of this, particularly in streams and rivers. Not so this year.A week or so ago, I took my ultra-light gear and a box of maggots down to the Gorge pier after dinner to gauge panfish activity in lieu of filming an upcoming "Buckeye Angler" episode on bluegill tactics. I was using 2-pound line with a black PinMin on the end with a small Styrofoam ice float 1 1/2 feet above, bright yellow in cover. I hadn't seen river water this clear in several years. While I caught an encouraging number of fish overall, I was most struck by the two bass and one crappie that rose up and engulfed the small float entirely, one small largemouth carried it around the dock for a half a minute or so, much to the delight of a gaggle of youngsters watching the proceedings.The next day, three of us ventured out onto Edison Reservoir in our small boats and had a so-so day on tubes and other soft plastics before Tim Romesberg put on a Strike King Mini-buzz, more out of boredom than anything else. Almost immediately, Tim caught several small bass, and I switched to a similar bait and nailed one smallie almost immediately and several bluegill on it before night fell. Lakes and ponds should improve similarly this year, if not better.Remember, buzzbaits and other surface lures are rarely a successful spring option under the best of spring conditions. That's what has me so excited about this year, barring a monsoon-like late spring.+ + +I received a phone message from a reader last week that concerned his desire to find some white bass, prompted by my mention of the species in a prior column. I am taking this opportunity to ask our readership for a little helpful feedback. Feel free to access our Web site with suggestions.This particular fellow has no boat and would like to fish somewhere fairly local from either shore or a rental. I found myself frankly perplexed at giving him a hopeful answer. Lake Erie and Fremont, Ohio's legendary white bass locales, are hardly local.Both Berlin and West Branch have limited white bass populations, but from shore? The Cuyahoga has an underrated white bass fishery in its Cuyahoga Falls stretch, particularly in and around the rapids downriver of the Sheraton, where they can easily be confused with the resident white perch, a very similar sub-species.Wherever you go, have both live minnows and 2-inch white and/or chartreuse twistertails. Keep one optimistic factor in mind: if you do catch one, stay generally where you are. White bass are never alone.Good luck.Kiser is the host of the "Buckeye Angler" TV show and Ohio editor of Midwest Outdoors magazine. He can be reached at