Winston Michel has been fishing near his home in Pierre Part since he was about 6 years old, but he’s never caught a bigger bass there than the one he reeled in Thursday morning.

The 7-pound, 14-ounce largemouth is big for the Lake Verret area, especially this time of year near Stephensville.

“It was a really pretty fish. It wasn’t one of those long, skinny ones,” Michel, 39, said. “It had length, girth and width. It was a healthy fish.”

He caught the big bass, which was released, on a Dean Rojas Signature Series SPRO frog in salvinia growing on top of the water.

“Some people call it Ninja duck seed, but it’s really thick,” he said. “That’s what we look for. I prefer to go to places like dead ends that have deeper water with some type of slough or runout coming from the back from the swamp.”

One of the keys to success with the topwater frog is to go slowly, he said.

“The thicker the duck seed, the slower you have to work it, because you have to give it a chance to break the grass so the fish can see it,” Michel said. “I like to jerk the frog and give it little pops so that it jumps out of the water. Give it little twitches to make it go up and down like a little boat. Personally, I find that mimics a real frog more than anything else.”

Michel said the right equipment is also crucial to work the topwater frog.

He uses a custom-made 7-foot, 3-inch Swamp Stix heavy-action rod outfitted with a Shimano reel. And he uses 80-pound Power Pro braid to get through the thick stuff.

“It doesn’t pay if you can’t get them in the boat,” he said.

Thursday morning’s conditions were ideal: sunny with very little wind.

“The sun was out, and that’s what we look for,” said Michel, who works as a game warden with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries. “A good sunny day will help put the fish under the duck seed. It gives them a blanket to get underneath.”

For the day, the total take was about 15 bass, including another fish weighing more than 5 pounds.

So hop to it: try a topwater frog in heavy cover and work it slowly. The color of the frog is not that critical, he said.

“I’m more of a pick-your-favorite-color-kind-of-guy when it comes to frogs,”  Michel said. “If it looks like a frog, then I’m probably gonna buy it.”