I love to fish lily pads, which provide both shade and cover for at Ross Barnett bass, in August. Ross Barnett features many underwater stump fields in shallow water where the bass can hold, which is where the baitfish and the bass will be.
I enjoy watching the bass blow up through the pads to take a rubber frog. In August, the deck of my boat will look like a sporting goods store, with numbers of reels and rods with different lures.
Conditions can change instantly this month, so you need rods and reels set up in various ways to be ready.
I’ll have one rod with a Mann’s Super Frog tied on the end of the line and another rod with a Mann’s Goliath Frog — a new, thicker fake amphibian — with one frog white and the other black. Bass will prefer one color over another at times.
Bass are lazy and lethargic in the summer months, and often in August the bigger bass are keen on gizzard shad. Sometimes the bass will take a bigger frog, so as not to have to eat as often.
I’ll fish with 50-pound-test braided line strung on a Pinnacle 7-foot, 11-inch pitching and flipping rod matched up with 7.3:1 gear Pinnacle reel.
I like braided line for this kind of fishing because it doesn’t stretch, gives you faster hooksets and will cut through lily pads.
This month, I’ll fish three areas with lily pads: above the Highway 43 bridge, the midsection of the lake on the east side of the lake and Pelahatchie Bay.
But I’m focusing on the area above the Highway 43 bridge.
Above the Highway 43 bridge
I’ll usually start fishing above the Highway 43 bridge, generally the east side of the river, and fish the pads closest to the river channel. I concentrate on underwater creek mouths and ditches that flow right into the main river channel.
Often, bass will concentrate there — especially when current’s being pulled through the lake — and you might see bass schooling in the open water.
I’ll cast frogs to the schooling bass in the pads and then grab my rod with the Mann’s Reel’N Shad to cast to the fish in open water.
I’ll have pearl and silver/blue flash Reel’N Shads rigged with ¼-ounce jigheads and weed guards on rods with 50-pound white Peacock fluorocarbon on the same size rod and reel mentioned above.
I’ll fish this rig where there’s an opening in the lily pads big enough for me to swim it and also fish it through feeding bass breaking the surface. If the school goes down, I can pull those schooling bass back up to the surface with the frong.
But if I can’t get the school back to the top with the frog, I’ll start pitching and flipping a jig on a craw head that I’ll have rigged on my deck.
On my jig rods, I’ll have a ½-ounce black-and-blue Mann’s HardNose jig with a black-and-blue craw as a trailer. I’ll rig another rod with a ¾-ounce jighead and a Texas-rigged green pumpkin craw worm (with pincers dipped in chartreuse dye) on a No. 5 hook.
I’ll start pitching the thickest part of the pads with the jig and craw worm.
From the Highway 43 bridge up to Tommy’s Trading Post, I’ll also fish the river channel with a Carolina rig of 23-pound white Peacock fluorocarbon, a 1-ounce weight, a plastic bead under the weight and a barrel swivel below which I’ll tie 18 inches of 20-pound white Peacock fluorocarbon line and attach my junebug-colored Mann’s Freefall Worm Texas-rigged to the hook.
In that same area, I’ll also quickly reel a Mann’s 20+ gray ghost-colored crankbait, although the water depth won’t be 20 feet. I want that big bill of the 20+ to dig the bottom, create a commotion and climb over and bounce off the stumps on the edges of the river channel. Then I’ll stop the bait and reel it really fast again.
I like to make a long cast with my crankbait, get the lure down as quickly as possible and let that crankbait dig the bottom along that river channel edge, generally 6-10 feet. I’ll fish the channel edge at a 45-degree angle by casting it up onto the flat and reeling it straight back to the boat, bringing it over the lip of the river channel.
I’ll also fish in front of channel marker 7 with its lily pads and numerous ditches that run into the river channels.
Ross Barnett has been kicking out some big bass lately. In the last tournament held there (at this writing), anglers had to produce more than 20 pounds each day to be in the top 10.
And the lake has been producing bass weighing 7 to 9 pounds.