Jeff Collum located the submerged roadbed on Kemper Lake with the help of his Rapala DT16, a good LCR and a little firsthand knowledge of the lake bottom.

It didn't take long before the expert fisherman located the "sweet spot" where the old sunken bridge was situated, and almost had the rod torn from his hands as a fat Kemper lunker engulfed the tempting crankbait.

The 5-pound fish was the first of several he caught off of the spot that day. In fact, Collum and his partner caught and released more than 40 bass from the honeyhole.

"We caught several 4- and 5-pounders, and a bunch of 2- to 3-pounders," said Collum. "We caught bass on the wood pilings where the creek comes through, and we caught some up on the roadbed itself."

On this day, Collum really mopped up on the bass with crankbaits and Carolina rigs. Once the crankbait bite slowed down, he switched to the Carolina rig, and really picked apart the submerged structure and road bed.

Though this fishing trip came a while back, anglers still have the opportunity to catch large numbers of bass from the deep ledges on any given day when the conditions are right. And the opportunity to catch a 7- to 9-pound lunker is still there on any given cast.

Collum has been fishing Kemper Lake since its inception. His uncle, Henry Palmer, bought the first lot on the lake before it was impounded. As a result, the angler spent a lot of time during his younger years surveying the bottom and taking photographs. His intimate knowledge of the lake gives him an upper hand on the structure-oriented bass that reside in the deep, clear lake.

During the month of May, Collum advises anglers to work the shallows quickly before the sun comes up for a chance at a magnum lunker.

"I'd start off casting chuggers or walking-type baits around the shoreline or vegetation first thing," he said. "Once the sun gets up above the trees, the topwater bite will be over. Then you'd better find some deep water with structure or a ditch."

The veteran angler has been fishing since he was 5 years old, and started fishing tournaments shortly thereafter, specifically the old East Mississippi Sportsman's Association tournament for kids. Collum is confident in his ability to find and locate bass in deep, clear-water lakes such as Kemper. The confidence comes from years of successfully finding and catching fish during extremely tough conditions.

As an example, Collum and his partner won the inaugural Super Teams Championship on Wheeler Lake in Alabama. They followed that up with a third-place finish in the national Bass Anglers Invitational Trail championship tournament on Wheeler Lake.

Collum prefers fishing the lightest line possible when fishing clear lakes like Kemper.

"If there's one thing that makes a difference in Kemper, it's light line," he said. "Anglers should use the lightest line they feel comfortable with because it will definitely make a difference in the number of bites you get."

This expert angler has also found a rod that fits his deepwater crankbait tactics to a T.

"I like to use an 8-foot Dobyn's Crankbait rod because I can get extra distance with the added length, without sacrificing line size and strength," he said.

The added distance makes it much easier to get the lures down into the deepwater strike zone, thus giving him an opportunity to entice more strikes.

On a recent trip to the lake, Collum used his Dobyn's spinning rod teamed with 12-pound Izor line to entice quite a few largemouths and spotted bass into biting his tempting offering. With an excellent feel of the bottom thanks to the rod and light line, Collum consistently caught and landed bass off of submerged structure.

Perhaps the key to consistently catching fish on Kemper is to learn the lake bottom with the help of an LCR, and then find the baitfish and bass.

"You've got to find bait or fish around the structure to catch them," advised Collum. "If you don't see bait or bass in the area, then you need to cover some ground, and find a spot where there's fish and bait."

In addition to lunker largemouths that are in the lake, there is also an abundance of spotted bass now making the lake their home. Catching a 3- to 5-pound spot is not unrealistic either.

If you're looking for a change of pace and a chance to catch some of the most beautiful bass you'll ever see out of gin-clear water, then head to Kemper Lake this May and try it for yourself. Try a few of Collum's tips, tactics and techniques that we've covered, and check out some of his favorite spots also.

 

No. 1: N32 48.256 x W88 43.767 - Leaving the boat ramp, head due north until you get to the first point past the docks on the right. This point is not far from the landing, but it has rocky outcroppings as you round the point and get on to the open-lake side.

"I like to start casting a crankbait and bounce the lure off the rocky bottom," Collum said. "I brought a friend of mine out here one day, and he caught a 6-pound, 5-ounce lunker off the point. It was the biggest fish of the day."

After working the point with a crankbait, anglers should try a Carolina rig and Shaky Head before calling it quits.

"Continue working the bank to the east about 100 yards, bump your lure off of the rocky bottom, and you just might pick up a few more good bass," Collum said. "And it's also a good spot to try after a day on the water and you want to pick up one last bass."

 

No. 2: N32 48.420 x W88 43.713 - After leaving the first point, head straight across the lake in a northwesterly direction, and stop about 100 yards to the east of the point and 100 yards out into the lake.

"There's a nice hump that's 7 to 8 feet deep on top, with 20-foot water on the open-lake side," Collum said. "I'll start working the ridge with a crankbait and work it out real good. If I catch a fish or two, I'll switch to a Carolina Rig, and really work it out.

"This submerged hump is usually home to a number of post-spawn bass, and will be good from now until cold weather gets here."

The key here is to hit the spot at various times of day if you don't catch a fish the first time. According to Collum, the post-spawn bass will move up to the ledge at various times to feed, and the trick is to be there when they turn on.

 

No. 3: N32 48.588 x W88 43.329 - Leaving point No. 2, head due east toward the dam, and stop at the fourth point on the left about 1/8 mile to the east. Stay off the point in deep water, and cast up to the point where it's 7 to 8 feet deep. This is a sharp-breaking, deeper point that will hold both spotted bass and largemouths.

"I catch a lot of spots on this deep point," said Collum.

Anglers will find 24 feet of water only a cast off the bank. You can work the point and deep-water structure from the bank down into deep water. Most of your strikes will occur on structure or right near.

"I'll throw a shaky head worm on a Davis unpainted jighead," Collum said. "And I'll use a 7½-inch Zoom trick worm. Big worms mean bigger fish, generally."

Collum advised anglers to continue working the shoreline area to the east and to hit the laydowns and submerged structure that is found along the bank.

 

No. 4: N32 48.666 x W88 43.250 - After leaving No. 3, you can continue fishing down the bank or you can skip the bank and head to the next point on the left, and begin fishing again. This point runs way out, and must be worked thoroughly out into the deep water.

"I'll keep fishing my DT 16 crankbait and Shaky Head worms along this point and just really comb the bottom looking for structure and bass," said Collum. "I caught one of my biggest Kemper bass, a 7 1/2-pounder, right off this point."

 

No. 5: N32 48.710 x W88 43.163 - Leaving the last spot, continue to the east until you get to the last prominent point on the left, before you get to the dam. A cove will open to the east and run in a northerly direction from the point and dam area. This submerged point and ledge actually runs east toward the dam. Collum also prefers moving out a ways and working his DT 16 crankbait in the 12- to 14-foot depths along the slope.

"I'll cast to the north in the deeper water, and really work the ledge over while trying to hit any wood structure I can find," he said.

The actual ledge will run from 10 feet on the top to 20 feet on the deeper side.

 

No. 6: N32 48.422 x W88 43.469 - After leaving the dam area, head back west on the southern side of the cove until you get to this GPS reading, adjacent to another prominent point running toward the open lake. On this ledge, you will also find a steep drop and very deep water, at least 20 feet deep only a cast off the bank.

"I like to throw my crankbait up to the bank and work it back deep," said Collum. "I'll continue working the crankbait and beat the bottom until I get a reaction strike, or hit some structure. If I don't get bit, I'll work the structure over with a Carolina rig or Shaky Head rig."

 

No. 7: N32 48.474 x W88 43.911 - Leaving the landing or No. 2, head north into the cove heading toward the upper end. This point is a submerged ledge located about 125 yards off of the bank right across from the first house on the right.

"I'll fish the ledge top, which is about 9 feet deep, and continue working all sides, as it falls off into 18 feet of water," Collum said.

Once again, Collum will start off with his crankbait and follow up with the Carolina rig or Shaky Head rig, until he's worked the ledge over thoroughly. This is another of those spots that has to have baitfish present before you can catch them. In other words, check the ledge out at various times of the day, and you may find them when they're up feeding.

"If the baitfish move up, the bass will follow, and you can really catch them when they turn on," said Collum.

 

No. 8: N32 48.888 x W88 44.568 - This spot is found just south of the landing on the upper side of the lake almost in the middle, between the landing and the last prominent point on the northwest side coming from the launch area on the south side of the lake.

The submerged roadbed also has an old sunken bridge that holds bass, both in the ditch and on the roadbed, as discussed previously. In fact, this is the spot where Collum caught 40 bass on one outing.

"I like to throw a crankbait across the old blown-out bridge and hit the wood pilings first," he said. "Then I'll work the top of the roadbed and finally follow up with my Shaky Head worms. If there's a bass down there, he'll usually hit the crankbait or Shaky Head."

He'll occasionally work the area over with a big jig or Carolina rig as well.

 

No. 9: N32 48.768 x W88 44.458 - This is the last prominent point on the left before you get to the boat ramp on the north side of the lake, just south of the small island located on the northwest side. On a recent trip to the lake, Collum pointed out a brushtop and indicated that there should be a bass on the laydown pine tree.

"Bass will hit a Paca Craw on this structure," he said.

After switching to a crawfish-colored Paca Craw rigged Texas-style, I promptly pitched the lure into the top. As I twitched the lure out of the top, a bass engulfed it and headed for deep water. Collum had called the shot, and I caught the bass.

Continuing down the bank, Collum started pitching the Shaky Head worm once again, and promptly caught a nice spotted bass as well. With plenty of water depth and structure to boot, this point is subject to hold bass at almost any time.

 

No. 10: N32 48.665 x W88 44.285 - Running back south of No. 9, fish the next point. Work the shoreline, probe the laydown logs, and work the water back out off the point and clay bank as well.

Once again, Collum continued catching bass on his Shaky Head rig, and I followed up with a bass or two of my own on the Paca Craw. Collum continued calling his shots as he pointed out likely looking spots for the bass to be. And time after time he was correct.

My final bass of the day was another nice spotted bass that really put up a fight. Not to be outdone, Collum caught the last bass of the day. We had fished the lake on a bluebird day, and the veteran angler had searched thoroughly until he came up with a pattern that really paid off. In fact, just about every point we fished during the afternoon that held structure, or wood cover, gave up a few bass.