Ken Murphy of Meridian surveyed the waters just off a shoreline in search of any bass activity. Spotting a ripple near a half-submerged tree top, he cast his Texas-rigged, ribbon-tailed worm, and let it sink slowly into the top. A twitch of the line signaled the accomplished angler that his first strike of the day was in process.

Rearing back on the rod, Murphy drove the steel hook deep into the jaw of an old sow bass, and the battle was on. A few minutes later, the successful angler brought the fish into the boat for a quick photo opportunity before releasing it back into the lake.

"I was guiding a group of Ford Motor Sales staff members at a lake that I had never been on, so I decided to go back to the basics," he said. "It just doesn't get any more basic than a Texas rig, and I knew that the bass would engulf the plastic worms and provide some great fishing action - if we could find them."

Though some of the men had fished for bass before, one had no experience whatsoever. The Texas-rigged worms would be easy to cast and work through any structure, but would also be very enticing for hungry bass.

During Murphy's guide trip, the anglers got many strikes and caught more than 30 bass on a less than ideal day on the water. Murphy had chosen the Texas rig because he knew they could catch fish on the lure if they put it in the right place, and on occasion they might even catch a lunker bass.

Since most of the bass will be on the move this month, the Texas-rigged worms could be worked on shallow flats, in grass or around wood structure with equal success.

Murphy's knowledge and versatility really paid off last year on the FLW Tour as he garnered multiple top-10 finishes. Though he will use almost any lure, technique and tactic, Murphy is not afraid to utilize tried-and-true lures such as the Texas rig, and he'll vary the type of plastic he utilizes with it. For the most part, however, he will stick to the ribbon-tail worm or a 6-inch lizard.

"During the early morning hours and under low-light conditions, I'll scour shoreline areas in search of active bass," he said. "The Texas rig allows me to make pinpoint casts to almost any type of structure."

As a general rule, Murphy prefers darker colors on darker water and natural colors in clear water.

"If it came down to picking my top two colors, I'd stick with watermelon- and junebug-colored plastics," he said. "You can go on any lake, anywhere in the world, and catch fish with those two colors."

Once the sun rises into the sky, Murphy may even switch to a Carolina rig so that he can cover more water in a shorter period of time. Depending on the water depth, he will use a 3/8- to ¾-ounce weight teamed with a barrel swivel and a 12- to 15-inch leader on lakes with little or no vegetation. If grass is present, Murphy will use a longer leader.

Once Murphy has found shallow flats and points close to deep water, he will explore them with his Carolina-rigged lizard or worm. Since bass primarily feed on bluegills during this time, Murphy will not be keying on shad as he will later in the summer and fall.

"After a cold front passes through, or during times of high fishing pressure, I'll downsize both the Texas and Carolina rigs to 4-inch worms, centipedes, french fries or lizards," he said. "By doing this, I'll draw more strikes and still be able to pick up an occasional hungry lunker."

No matter where you fish during the month of May, you can be sure that the old reliable Texas- and Carolina-rigged worms will be productive and efficient. With numerous wins and top finishes all around the country, Murphy has already proven that point.

Knight frogs

Monte Knight, of Quitman, is another veteran bass angler who has had great success on the local, state and national tournament scene. Though hampered by an extreme cold front during a recent tournament on Lake Toho in Florida, Knight continued his success with a strong 14th-place finish in the FLW tournament.

"My biggest fish of the tournament was a 9-pound lunker I caught on a Texas-rigged Chigger Craw," he said. "After the front, the bass shut down, and I pulled out my Fenwick Flipping Stick and went to work."

Though Knight has learned quite a few things while fishing on the WBFL, FLW Tour and on the Stren Series around the country, he still looks forward to the fantastic fishing that occurs in our state each year in May after the spawn has ended.

One of Knight's favorite fishing techniques is "cranking frogs," and there's just no better time to do that than during the post-spawn. His favorite place to fish a frog is on lakes that have plenty of vegetation. That vegetation could be anything from gator grass to milfoil to hyacinths. No matter what type of grass or moss may be found in a lake, you can be sure that baitfish will be somewhere near, and lunker bass will by hiding in ambush mode.

Columbus Lake is one such impoundment that provides plenty of vegetation for the bass and baitfish. Knight loves to fish the lake during May after the bass have recuperated from the spawn and begun their feeding frenzy.

He searches the river for lakes that have plenty of cover.

"I usually look for water that has both wood and grass cover present," Knight said. "If you can find both wood and grass in the same location, then you have the key ingredients for some fine frog fishing."

Once he goes into a lake, or pocket, Knight will quickly survey the water and begin fishing on the part of the lake that holds grass and cover. If the wind is blowing significantly, he'll key on the bank or shore that the wind is blowing into. Wind will blow a lot of shad or baitfish into grassy areas and the bass will follow in search of easy meals.

Knight's favorite frog color this time of year is white. Once he has found an area with grass and wood, he fishes the lure along grass lines, while also probing pockets and holes that may be found in the vegetation. Knight likes to "crank" the frog at a good pace to entice reaction strikes from the lunkers that are positioned just below the vegetation.

"If I find fish relating to stumps or grass, I'll cast that frog past the target and just run it up there real fast and stop it right on top of them," he said. "Usually they just can't stand it."

Occasionally he'll vary his retrieve and stop the frog in the holes and pockets if the bass are not quite as active as normal.

Knight has even caught bass by cranking the frog through open water during the weeks following the spawn. There's just something about a white frog that post-spawn bass can't resist.

If bass are relating to logs or wood structure, they're just as apt to strike a frog retrieved over or alongside the structure this time of year.

Evidence of Knight's frog-fishing prowess was shown when he won a tournament on Ross Barnett Reservoir a couple years back with a limit of bass taken by cranking a frog. Knight found more than a few lunker bass willing to sample his irresistible frog offerings, and he was more than willing to oblige their taste buds.

When it comes to fishing for lunker bass in heavy vegetation or cover, Knight bulks up his equipment. Frog fishing isn't finesse fishing, thus you must gear up for heavy battle. Knight prefers using a 7-foot, 11-inch Fenwick Elite Series rod teamed with a Garcia Revo reel and 65-pound braid.

His equipment must be tough enough to handle the large bass that attack the lure on the surface and quickly dive back into the tangled vegetation. In Knight's book, braided line is the only choice when fishing frogs. The tough braid allows him to set the hook and bring a lot of bass right through the vegetation. If the bass is a monster and buries up in the vegetation, the braid allows him to keep the bass tight to the vegetation, or structure, until he can maneuver the boat close enough to land the lunker.

Topwater frog fishing rates a 10 for the fantastic explosive topwater strikes it produces, and it's also a good way to catch lunker bass and win bass tournaments to boot. Just ask Knight, and he'll show you the proof. He's got the hardware to back it up.

Giles on topwater

Justin Giles is also a veteran angler with years of successful experience in bass fishing. The young angler's age belies his experience and fishing prowess. He has become quite proficient at catching lunkers, as evidenced by several 10-pound bass taken in recent years. He's also tasted success on the tournament scene with a win in an open tournament on Okatibbee Lake and a few top finishes and wins in youth tournaments as well.

During an early morning trip last May, Giles was fishing structure along a shoreline when he kept seeing bass slash bait out in the open water of a cove.

"I kept seeing bass hitting out in open water, and wondered what they were doing out there," he said. "As it turned out, the bass were gorging themselves on shad and baitfish that were hiding under patches of floating scum over an 8- to 10-foot flat."

As the lunkers drove the baitfish to the surface, they would attack and slash through them, sending many flittering on top of the grass and moss.

Giles detected the silver-colored fingerlings, and quickly opened his arsenal of lures and dug out an Excaliber Spit'n Image. While the lure comes in a couple of sizes, both are spitting images of shad, but the smaller version of the lure duplicates the darting action of a shad perfectly.

Just before a bass would explode out of the depths, small baitfish would come flittering out of the water in all directions. If they survived the first explosion, many were left flipping on the moss while trying to get back into the water. Sometimes they didn't make it, as ravenous bass would engulf them, grass and all.

Giles quickly began casting his topwater bait near any small patch of grass or wood that he could find. If a small patch of grass had movement around it, or shad on top of it, he would cast the bait out just beyond the grass and retrieve it in a walk-the-dog style.

As Giles worked the topwater from side to side on its way back through the strike zone, the lure would spit, flitter and dart back and forth in a fashion almost identical to the live baitfish. The movement was so real that even the bass had a hard time hitting the lure. Just as Giles jerked the bait, it would dart out in one direction and the bass would explode the other way. He actually had to slow down his retrieve in order for the bass to have an opportunity to engulf the lure.

Once Giles got his rhythm down, however, it was like money in the bank. As the lure flittered back and forth, hungry bass would smash, attack and try to kill the bait. More often than not, the fish would strike several times before hooking up with the lure. Bass after bass fell victim to the young angler's expertise. He had observed the current water conditions and bass activity, and put together a spur-of-the-moment plan that allowed him an opportunity to catch a limit of bass in no time.

"During this month, bass will feed on bream as well as shad, so I usually match the hatch according to what they're feeding on," Giles said. "If they're feeding on shad, I'll go to shad-colored lures like the Spit'n Image, and if they're feeding on bream I'll go to a bream-colored or white Devil's Horse or King Snipe, or some type of prop bait."

If you're looking for some fine bass fishing this month, then you should be able to employ some of these tried-and-true fish-catching techniques and tactics employed by these seasoned anglers. Just remember that no matter how old you are, you're never too old, or young, to learn a valuable new technique. And sometimes that new technique may just be found while you're on the water fishing or catching fish.