by Jack KiserCorrespondentNow is the time that true sport fishermen wait all year for -- the time when so many of those book and magazine covers are drawn or photographed.You may have a different preference or a greater success rate pursuing largemouth and smallmouth bass by virtue of another method. However, there is no argument whatsoever as to what is angling's indisputably most exciting and entertaining way of taking black bass -- topwater style!As someone who has participated in a variety of sports and sporting activities in my life, I can tell you honestly that no other sporting experience compares at all favorably to the heart-stopping assault on a surface lure by those violent aggressors from their strange, underwater world.Key to experiencing this most exciting of angling's challenges is maximizing your chances by doing your best to be on the water at the right time, both in a time/kind-of-day and seasonal sense. Summer is a premier time for topwater bassin' as the fish's visibility is generally better because the water column has by now usually been cleared from first the snow melts of winter and the spring rains that follow them. This is a pattern of varying success rates, however, as some spring rainy seasons are so harsh and relentless as to render area waters so stained and murky that they never really clear enough throughout the entire open water season to make topwater fishing a viable option.This is especially true in most Ohio rivers, which by their very nature are at a clarity disadvantage to begin with, considering all the runoff, upstream variables, and bottom content and siltation factors they must overcome to begin with.Sadly, last year was such a year for many Buckeye staters. The spring rains were relentless and followed by a summer that provided little respite precipitation-wise. Ohio rivers and streams were often fishable by some means, but the topwater option was rarely one of them. Even the average lake and inland impoundment offered little opportunity for a surface bite.Topwater action was pretty much the limited to those that had access to clearwater ponds or strip pits, like those scattered throughout the Ohio Power realm.This year, I'm happy to report, promises to be much better for the surface bite, with a good chance of being truly exceptional. Rains have been severely limited and this after a low-snowfall winter.Our "Buckeye Angler" fishing staff and film crew have been having topwater success since late April -- even for panfish.The best days to fishThe best topwater bites occur on the same days that other methods also excel-that is overcast and hazy ones.Remember that whereas night fishing is problematical for many, seldom are days superior to nights. Night topwater bass angling is a great way for anglers to learn the essential discipline of not setting the hook when they initially hear or see the bite, but waiting until they feel it.Otherwise, you're going to lose a lot of fish.The equipment to useFor this kind of fishing, I employ a braided, or "super" line that's more likely to stay atop the water longer and transmit the bite quicker.As always, match the pound test to the size/weight of the respective lure being used at any given moment. Either spinning or casting gear is then appropriate; casting for 10-pound and above, spinning for anything less.A longish rod will better facilitate the longish casts necessary to avoid spooking the more aggressive fish more likely to smash surface baits.Looking at the methodsIf you're targeting a specific area, such as a group of shad busting the surface or a favored stump, always cast well beyond your target and always get your horizontal bait-like a buzzbait-up and running as quickly as possible after as soft a landing as possible.High speed reels are at their best in these situations. If using a more stationary bait like a Jitterbug or Pop-R, wait patiently until all ripples disperse before initiating a subtle movement or two.Concentrate heavily around obvious shoreline cover like trees, docks, and rocks indeed, but never pass up the opportunity to throw past the signs of baitfish busting the surface-it could change your life. Some types of luresI've already mentioned the most useful and productive of all surface lures -- the buzzbait. It covers water efficiently and is at its best when artfully employed to fish an outline around any available surface cover, not unlike the manner in which a policeman outlines a body.Some days and nights, fish are unwilling to run down a buzzbait, though I almost always start out my topwater treks with one to gauge activity levels; why revert to a slower, more time-consuming and deliberate method when the more productive one is scoring?However, when bass are "short striking" or simply not nailing buzzers, go to the next active series of topwater options -- the surface jerk bait like the Zara Spook, famous for it's side-to-side "walk the dog" application.Your final surface option is those many baits that are generally worked subtly with a limited movement and much anticipation. This more deliberate method can be great fun.Get out this summer and concentrate primarily on those days after it hasn't rained for a while but now looks as if it just might. Hang on.Kiser is the host of TV's "Buckeye Angler." You can reach him at his Web site.