You'll find the East Pearl River near Pearlington on the Mississippi-Louisiana border, a fun and exciting place to fish during May.

Although you may not catch many bass weighing over 4 pounds, you'll catch numbers of them. This tidal, brackish-water region has made a tremendous comeback since Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

But before you fish there, you need to know certain technicalities.

As long as you stay and fish in the river or fish the east tributaries, bays and sloughs that come into the Pearl River, you can use your Mississippi fishing license. However, if you leave the river to go up into a creek or a drain on the west side of the river, you must have a Louisiana fishing license.

On the East Pearl River during May, I prefer to fish a Mann's Baby 1-Minus, a small shallow-running crankbait, or a buzz bait. Also, I'll use the new Mann's Weasel.

The two best places to fish on the East Pearl in May are the mouths of drains or ditches and around lily pads.

I like to go north from Pearlington before I begin fishing where there's more fresh water and better fishing, even though the fishing in this section is affected by the tide. Generally a 1- to 1 1/2-foot difference exists in the water level between a high and a low tide on the East Pearl. I check the tide charts before planning a trip because I prefer to fish an outgoing tide.

But during the first 2 hours of an incoming tide, you still can catch bass in the same places with the same tactics you use on outgoing tides. But once the tide becomes high, the bite becomes tougher. When the tide's draining out of those wetlands, the baitfish pull to the mouths of those drains where the bass will be waiting to feed.

 

Fish the drains

You can catch a large number of bass fishing one drain. On a good day, you may catch five to 15 bass in the mouth of one drain as the tide falls out of the marsh. I fish the mouths of the drains with a Mann's 1-Minus crankbait and a Mann's C-4 crankbait because these lures more closely resemble a small baitfish coming out of the mouth of the drain.

My favorite color is blue/black with chartreuse sides or crawfish color. I'll fish these crankbaits on 12-pound-test Berkley fluorocarbon line, and catch bass weighing from 1/2 to 2 pounds each with an occasional 4-pounder.

You can expect to catch numbers of 2-pounders fishing the mouths of these drains. I'll cast up into the drain, and bring the Baby 1-Minus or the C-4 with the current as the water comes out of the drain.

 

Bet on the pads

Also found on the East Pearl River are long stretches of lily pads. I'll fish the lily pads with a buzz bait, a new Mann's Weasel and a Mann's Baby 1-Minus. Fishing the outsides of the pads, I'll use the Baby 1-Minus and the Mann's C-4. I want to get those crankbaits down, and try to bump them into the lily-pad stems so they'll deflect off those stems without getting hung. I'll use the same-colored crankbaits I've used to fish the drain mouths.

Also, I'll fish a 1/4-ounce black or chartreuse/white buzz bait, depending on the day. On a cloudy day, I'll use black, and on a bright day, I'll fish chartreuse/white. I'll be fishing these buzz baits on 17-pound-test fluorocarbon line through and down the edges of the pads.

I'm really excited about Mann's new Weasel bait for lily-pad fishing. You can fish the Weasel, which will run only about 6 feet underwater, on top of the water like you fish a plastic frog, except the Weasel has a molded lip on the front of the bait.

When the Weasel comes to an opening, you can crank it like you do a crankbait, and it will dive down into that opening to give a different type of presentation than the bass ever have seen.

My favorite color Weasel is black/red flake. I get more bites when I swim a Weasel than when I pull a frog through those same open-water areas in the pads. When I'm fishing the Weasel, I'll use 30-pound-test braided line because it cuts through the lily pads better than monofilament does. To get the bass out of the lily pads, get them up and on top of the water as quickly as possible.

The East Pearl is a great river to fish, and although it hasn't received much publicity since Katrina, the river's making a comeback. In a day of fishing, an angler often will catch 20 to 25 bass in this river. Although your best bass may not weigh much more than 3 pounds, you'll have fun catching a number of bass.

This river's a confidence builder for bass fishermen. If you've fished tough places and haven't been catching many bass, go to the East Pearl. Put your boat in at Pearlington, and travel north for a fun day of bass fishing.