This month, you need to head to Tunica Cutoff, a big oxbow lake off the Mississippi River.

Generally, the Mississippi River will be high this month, the cutoff will be full of water, and the bass will be holding up in the willows. If the lake isn't full, the bass will be holding on the edges of the willows, waiting to move in under the willow trees when the water starts to rise. Those willows provide shade and cover. The bass are always related to the willows in May.

I prefer to fish the willows with three lures: a square-billed crankbait, like a Mann's C-4; a 1/2-ounce Stone Jig; or a creature bait, like the HardNose Mosquito Hawk.

Fishing the crankbait

At this time of year, I prefer to fish a black/chartreuse crankbait because it's a bluegill color, and the bass will be feeding on bluegills under and around those willows. I like the square-billed crankbait in May because it has a different wobble and creates more vibration than the round-billed crankbaits, making the bait easier for the bass to find and eat.

This isn't the time of year to be napping when you're fishing your crankbait. I like to retrieve it fairly fast, so I use a Quantum 1170PT 7.0:1 gear ratio reel with 20-pound-test Berkley Trilene 100-percent fluorocarbon line.

I'll run that crankbait pretty fast by the willow trees, laydowns or any other type of wood cover in the water. The lake won't be clear in May, so you need to use heavier line to work that crankbait through the heavy cover. Since I'll have a good chance of hooking numbers of 4- to 6-pound bass in Tunica at this time of year, a heavier line will let me get that size bass out of the wood cover.

Fishing the Stone Jig

I'll be fishing a black/blue or a green/pumpkin-colored Mann's Stone Jig at Tunica this month. Because I've always caught plenty of bass on these colors, I have a lot of confidence in them.

When I'm flipping or pitching a jig, I'll generally have both these colors tied on two different rods. For a trailer, I'll use a Mann's HardNose Crawfish and match the color of crawfish to the jig.

After I've run the crankbait down the edge of the willows, I'll return to the same trees and pitch the jig under the willows.

I'll also be pitching the jig to any laydowns. When I'm working the willow trees, I'll pitch the jig under the willows and let it sink to the bottom. Then I'll hop it up two or three times.

If I don't get a bite, I'll reel it in quickly and pitch it to another spot. The bass will be extremely active at this time of year, and usually will react to the jig about the time it hits the water or on the first or the second hop off the bottom.

You won't have to aggravate these bass into biting. At this time of year, the bass are laying back up under the cover of the willow trees and either spawning or completing the spawn. So they should be hungry. When that jig falls in or near their bed, the bass will want to eat it.

Fishing the Hawk

Before I leave the willows, I'll let the bass tell me whether they want a plastic lure or a jig. That's the reason I'll be using the Mann's HardNose Mosquito Hawk rigged with a 5/16-ounce weight up the line and a No. 5/0 wide-gap extra-strong Gamakatsu hook rigged Texas-style on 50-pound-test braided line.

Many times when a bass turns down a jig, it will bite a soft-plastic lure like the Mosquito Hawk. Also, when you're fishing in flooded timber and willows, a soft-plastic lure is easy to fish in thick cover because a creature bait often will penetrate the cover better than a jig and a lure not as streamlined. I'll be fishing the Mosquito Hawk in the same places I fish the crankbait and the jig.

I expect the bass to be feeding really strong this month at Tunica. On a good day, I'll catch about 15 bass. Although 15 bass in one day doesn't seem like a lot, those 15 bass usually will be quality fish, weighing from 3 to 5 pounds each. So what you give up in numbers at Tunica, you'll make up for in size.

In May, I prefer to fish all the oxbows off the Mississippi River, but Tunica is a really big lake with a lot of cover and willow trees.

If the water's really high, I'll fish the northeast corner of Tunica. If you can work your way through the trees, there's another little hidden oxbow off the lake in this area, and it generally has clearer water in it than the lake proper. At this time of year, you'll often find that the bass like to push back into that little clear oxbow when the water gets really high. I've caught numbers of really nice bass in this section, when the water gets high enough to let me get my boat in there.