Several events are happening at Ross Barnett this month that make this lake a super pick.
At the first of the month, you’ll find bass still spawning and other bass holding on beds, guarding their fry. At the middle and the end of April, the shad will be spawning. These factors will help you understand why I’m recommending these tactics.
Where to start
You need to begin fishing the lily pad stems and the new lily pads that are probably still underwater and generally in the central section of the main lake. I’m searching first for spawning bass in places where I see the new, green lily pads showing up. I’ll use a 3/8-ounce white buzzbait to get the most active bass to bite first. If that doesn’t work, and most of the bass are dormant, I’ll pitch a plastic lizard. Some of the bass still will be on the bed, and others will be guarding fry.
I’ll fish with a Lew’s 7’ medium heavy rod with a 7.5:1 Team Lew’s baitcasting reel, throwing the lure on 26-pound test fluorocarbon White Peacock line. If I can see the beds, I’ll reel the buzzbait slowly over the beds’ tops. If the bass won’t come up off the beds and take the buzzbait, I’ll switch to a Mann’s SuperFrog. I’ll tie two frogs onto two rods on my casting deck with one frog black, the other white. I’ll cast the SuperFrog past the bass’ bed, reel it up to the bed and let the frog sit still for 10-15 seconds above the bedding bass before moving it. With this frog, I’ll fish with a Team Lew’s 7’6” medium heavy rod, 65-pound braided bass line and the same reel I use with the buzzbait. If the day is cloudy or if I’m fishing just before sunup, I’ll cast a black SuperFrog. On a clear day or when fishing later in the morning, I’ll cast a white frog.
Usually I’ll catch more bass guarding fry, using these two techniques than I will catching the female bass that are locked down on the beds and still spawning. If the bass won’t bite the topwater baits, I’ll rig a Junebug colored Mann’s HardNose Lizard with a 3/16-ounce weight up the line and a 5/0 hook. I’ll be fishing with a 7’11” medium heavy rod with a 7.5:1 reel and 50-pound braid. I’ll cast the lizard past the bed, reel it up to the bed and allow it to fall into the bed and sit still. If the female bass is on the bed, 9 times out of 10, she won’t let that lizard remain there. Generally the bass still spawning in that warm, shallow water will be aggressive and should take the lizard. Once the water temperature reaches 72 – 76 degrees, the bass will become even more aggressive.
How to fish the shad spawn
From the middle to the end of April usually is when the shad start spawning at Ross Barnett. This spawn attracts bass like a magnet. Shad will spawn on different types of banks, but one of their favorites is on the rocks (riprap). My favorite bait to fish for bass during the shad spawn is a 5” pearl Reel ’N Shad with a ¼-ounce weight that comes in the package with the lure. I’ll cut off the weedguard on the lead when fishing the rocks. The entire dam area, the mouth of Pelahatchie Bay and the Highway 43 bridge all contain riprap. Generally the shad will spawn somewhere along those rocks in April. Motor down the edges of the rocks until you spot numbers of shad flipping and spawning on the rocks’ edges. You may see some bass busting the surface too.
I like to fish the shad spawn just at daylight by casting parallel to the riprap and have the Reel ’N Shad running quickly as closely as possible to the rocks. I’ll fish this swim bait on 20 pound braid on an 8.3:1 reel on a 7’ medium-heavy rod. If I get a bite where I see the shad spawning, I’ll put my Power-Pole down to hold my boat in that spot to continue to cast and retrieve to that shad spawn and those active bass. If you see 1-3 bass busting the surface, you’ll know many more bass are there that you can catch.
The majority of bass you’ll catch in April at Ross Barnett will be male bass and spawnedout females that only may weigh 1- 1½-pounds each. But if you continue to catch and release bass, you’ll probably catch some 3-4 pounders. The shad spawn generally starts when the bass are coming off their beds and are hungry and very aggressive.