This is the second installment of my top five top water baits for smallmouth bass. This week I”m writing about my all time favorite top water for early morning and late evening smallmouth bass fishing, the Heddon Meadow Mouse. You would be hard pressed to find a top water that can produce smallmouth as consistently during the summer months. It has an uncanny ability to entice mr. smallie to hit even at times when they totally ignore other baits. When I decided to write this article, I went out to take some fishing pictures about an hour or so before dark. Less than 15 casts produced 5 blow ups, 3 hooked smallmouth, and two landed. That’s not bad productivity for any top water. The Meadow Mouse has a very unique action and offers a subtle presentation that drives smallmouth bass wild!
About the Lure
The Meadow Mouse is manufactured by Heddon Lures. The lure was off the market for several years and there was a booming business for them on ebay. Luckily, I had acquire quite a few meadow mice before they went out of production so I had a nice stock pile of the baits during the hiatus. I’m happy to say they are now being produced again. Although they are still a little difficult to find, I noticed that Bass Pro Shops has them in stock.
The Meadow Mouse is a mouse imitation that definitely bites back! It is equipped with a double set of treble hooks that can be easily changed out for better quality hooks. I’d recommend switching the hooks out because the factory installed hooks tend to bend easily when snagged or even when you hook into a lunker. Other then that, the bait is extremely durable. I have one that I’ve used for about 20 years.
Color selection seems a little limited this time around. In days gone by, it was available in gray, brown, white, and black with all baits having white bellies. Recently, I can only find the Meadow Mouse in the black color. Honestly, I don”t think color is a big deal with this bait at all.
The most enticing thing about this bait is its action. What makes this bait unique is that its a top water bait with a diving lip. It is capable of diving down to a foot but this is not what it is designed for. The body is large and very buoyant. When retrieved properly, the lip causes the bait to produce a wide wobble as it travels across the water”s surface. This is a unique and subtle action that few bass have seen and it drives them crazy!
A 6”6″ medium to light power rod is idea for the Meadow Mouse. I have used shorter rods down to 5”6″ when casting quarters are a little tight. That being said, you”ll get your best results with a 6”6″ rod. My favorite rod when throwing this bait is an All Star GT40X Top Water Special. Its a light power rod with a fast action and is rated for lures up to 1/2 oz. The soft tip of the GT40X TPS helps with the hookup ratio and the backbone of this graphite rod really drives the hook home!
The Meadow Mouse is a 1/2 oz. lure and in my opinion a baitcast reel is in order. It will allow you to better cast and control the lure on retrieve. I’m partial to the new low profile baitcast reels that are rated for lines around 12 lb. test. I throw the Meadow Mouse on a Bass Pro Shops Prolite Finesse reel and find that it handles the bait just fine. I also like the reel because it has a lower retrieve ratio. The Meadow Mouse is not the type of lure you will be burning in quickly. There are tons of other baitcast reels on the market that will throw this bait just fine. As I always say, use what you are comfortable casting.
You will get into some serious “scraps” against big smallmouth using this bait. It’s a big fish bait. My first choice of line when tossing this bait around a lot of cover is braid. I like PowerPro 6/20. This braid, as I mentioned in the first installment of this series, has the diameter of 6 pound monofiliment but the breaking strength of 20 lb. test. Big smallmouth have a knack for getting you hung up in weeds or wood. The braid is a great insurance policy against this! The almost zero stretch of braid will also help ensure a solid hook up when the big boy bites! Don”t be afraid to use monofiliment if the areas you are fishing are fairly open. I use mono a lot when tossing this bait. I’d recommend being in the neighborhood of 12 lb. test monofiliment. The Meadow Mouse is best fished in low light conditions. Line visibility is not an issue at those times and I’ve found that the action of this bait isn’t hindered by bigger diameter lines.
Fishing the Meadow Mouse
I can’t say enough about how effective the Meadow Mouse is in the late day. The magic time is one to two hours before dark. Most top water baits churn up the water pretty good and rely on making a lot of disturbance and noise. Noise is certainly a big attractor but the Meadow Mouse relies on something different. The lip which creates a wobbling motion along with the large body that displaces a lot of water makes a subtle yet very noticeable disturbance on the waters surface. It flat out drives smallmouth crazy! Summer is the absolute best time for this bait.
I also have used this bait effectively during the first hour or so of daylight. I’ve had much less success with the bait during the day, even when the Sky’s are overcast. I’m not entirely sure why.
Where to toss the bait and fish the bait is pretty darn easy to figure out. It”s a mouse. Right? Mice live on land. Right? You”ll get the best results by casting the bait right up tight against the bank and retrieving it either parallel to the bank or out into deeper water if you fishing from a boat. If I”m bank fishing on a smaller stream I”ll make a cross stream cast to the opposite bank. Most times, if there going to hit the bait, they”ll do it within the first 3-4 feet of the retrieve.
Don”t get me wrong. The bait is still very effective when cast mid stream, river, or lake then retrieved toward the bank. When I’m fishing from the bank, I like to pause the bait just a few feet from the bank the restart the deliberate retrieve. Smallies will follow the bait from the deep water right up to the shallows. There’s noting like having a big smallie jump all over your bait only a few feet from you! That’s a heart stopper!
The retrieve is really the key to being successful with the Meadow Mouse. Its not really a rapid stop and go or pop and go bait like other top waters. Cast the bait and begin the retrieve immediately, holding your rod tip high at about 10 o”clock. The retrieve should be slow and steady. Holding the rod tip high while making a slow steady retrieve will keep the bait on the surface and increase the wobbling action of the bait. You can pause every couple of feet or so letting the bait rest, then restart a slow and deliberate retrieve.
There are two points about this retrieve that I think add to the effectiveness of this bait. First, starting the retrieve as soon as the bait hits the water simulates a mouse hitting the water. They just don’t float there. A mouse is like “holy cow” I got to get out of here before something eats me! Second, the slow steady retrieve allows smallmouth to track the bait easily. This is really important if your fishing the bait late in the day. Smallmouth are site feeders and your helping them zero in on the bait by using a slow steady retrieve.
Well that just about does it for the second installment of this top water bait series. I would urge you to pick up one of this great baits. I’ve caught countless smallmouth on the meadow mouse over the years and its a lot of fun to fish. The Meadow Mouse is guaranteed to give you some heart stopping moments and put a couple big fish on the end of your line!