Calling Panther near Crystal Springs has a great population of big bass.
And the high water in March more than likely helped the bass have a big spawn.
By May, the lake’s bass should have settled down, and Calling Panther will have a shallow-water bite.
So you can dig out all your old topwater baits to enjoy watching bass explode on them.
During the spawn, I’ll fish a Mann’s Reel’ N Shad. I’ll swim a watermelon red version on a ¼-ounce weedless lead-head jig just under the surface on a 7-foot, 3-inch Lew’s rod paired with a Lew’s 7.5:1 reel spooled with 20-pound test White Peacock fluorocarbon line.
Calling Panther’s northeast portion contains lots of coves and pockets. Bass will concentrate on the points there.
I’ll start off with the Reel’ N Shad, because shad will be spawning on those points and on any type of vegetation, and the bass will be keying there.
You need to get out on the lake early in the morning, just before the sun comes up and look for shad flipping on the surface of the water.
Due to the abundance of rain and cold weather during the early spring, the vegetation might be slow showing up.
Once the shad spawn bite ends, I’ll use topwater baits like the Zara Spook and prop baits like the Devil’s Horse.
When I see bass schooling and busting shad on the surface, I’ll fish those lures all day long.
Although the shad spawn ends around 9 a.m., bass will be actively feeding on those baitfish as they school in deeper water.
I’ll use 40-pound braided line with a 16-inch monofilament leader without a swivel.
The monofilament holds the lure on top of the surface, while the braid gives me a faster hook set.
I’ll use a 6-foot, 10-inch medium-heavy Lew’s rod with a 7:5:1 reel.
Working the Zara Spook really fast as it comes across the top of the water gets more strikes. Once that lure hits the water, I don’t let it stop.
My favorite color in May is clear with a metal flake back or pearl with a black back.
When I’m fishing a prop bait, I fish it slower than I do the Spook.
I twitch it twice, let it sit still, twitch it twice and let it sit.
I allow the bass to tell me which of these two baits are most effective.
The prop style baits are old baits you don’t read about much, but in the last few years they have made a comeback in the spring — especially with pro bass fishermen.
Prop baits always have been productive when bass are feeding on the surface and schooling up in the late spring and early summer. They also produce well in the fall when the bass are schooling.
They create a different type of action on the water’s surface than most topwater lures, and they aren’t fished as often as poppers and chuggers.
Another lure I like to fish in May is a swim jig.
I like a ¼-ounce white jig teamed with a Mann’s white Twin Tail Grub or a 3/8-ounce black-and-blue swim jig with a matching Mann’s Twin Tail Grub.
I’ll swim these jigs around visible bluegill beds that smell like ripe watermelons. The bass will be just off of the sides of the bluegill beds, attacking panfish coming in to spawn.
I like a swim jig on 50-pound braided line with a Lew’s 7.5:1 gear ratio reel on a 7-foot, 6-inch medium-heavy Lew’s rod.
Just about every bass you catch around the bluegill beds will weigh from 3 to 4 pounds.
But don’t be surprised if you catch a 6- to a 7½-pound bass this month at Calling Panther.