Pickwick bass fishing can’t get any better than in May. From only two or three schools of bass, you may catch 30 or more bass per day. If rising water happens, the bass will be in this newly inundated water in the grass, bushes and trees. About the middle of May, the bass will be pulling out of the creeks and staging at their mouths or in the cuts and ditches in the flats leading to the river channel. At the end of May, I’ll look for bass out on the main river channel.
Bass in cover
In the water’s cover, I’ll start off fishing a 3/8-ounce spinnerbait with a chartreuse and white skirt, two gold Indiana blades and a trailer hook but no trailer on a 6’ 10” medium heavy Lew’s spinnerbait rod with a Lew’s 7.5:1 reel and 23-pound-test White Peacock fluorocarbon line. I’ll swim the spinnerbait just under the surface — not waking it. I’ll cast past the cover and reel the spinner fast, without letting the blades touch the cover. I get more bites like that than crashing the spinner bait into cover on heavily pressured lakes.
After I run the spinnerbait past the cover several times, then I’ll fish a Mann’s ½-ounce black and blue Stone Jig with a black/blue crawfish trailer close to the cover without hitting the structure on a 7’11” flipping and pitching rod with a medium heavy action 7.5:1 reel and 50 pound braid. I’ll fish the outside edges of the cover first because I don’t want to spook the bass holding tight to the cover. My chances of landing those bass are much better, if I can get the bass on the outside edge of the cover to hit the jig. If I don’t get a bite then, I’ll pitch my jig right to the center of the cover.
The bass will be fairly aggressive in May, since they’ve just come off their beds, are hungry, are holding in water 2 foot deep or less and generally will take the jig as it falls. Once the jig hits the bottom, I’ll pull it out of the brush and look for more cover to fish. Although some anglers will flip the jig into the uppermost branches of a bush, stop it and let it down easy into the water, I don’t. I want the jig right in front of that bass’ face.
I’ll also use a 3/8-ounce clacker sounding buzzbait around the bushes on a 6’10’’ medium heavy rod with a 8.3:1 reel, and 30-pound-test braid. This high speed reel enables me to control the speed of the buzzbait — reeling it slowly or burning it across that shallow water and coming as close to the cover as possible, without touching the cover.
Creek mouths and cuts
As May weather warms up, the bass will start moving out to the creeks heading toward the river channel and holding in the creek mouths and secondary drop-offs. Search for ditches and cuts where the creek mouths, small channels and bays cut through a spawning flat or a secondary drop-off. I’ll cast to those places with a Mann’s 15+ crankbait in gray ghost color on a 7’ 2” crankbait rod with a 6.4:1 reel and 20-pound fluorocarbon line.
I’ll fish 50 yards upcurrent and downcurrent of the mouths of the creek channels and the edges of those ditches and secondary creeks that cut through the old riverbank. The bass may be holding on the edges of the creek mouths, generally 7-12 foot deep. I’ll dig that 15+ into the bottom along the edges of the underwater creek channel to attract bass strikes. Some shallow bars out in front of the creek mouths may be only 3-7 feet deep, and then I’ll throw a C4 shad pattern square bill crankbait.
By the end of May, the bass will be holding on the edges of the old river channel. I’ll use three different tactics then. I’ll fish a 20+ shad pattern crankbait, a Carolina rig with a HardNose Freefall worm or a purple plastic lizard. If the current’s not running, I’ll fish a shaky head worm in green pumpkin with a 5 inch HardNose Freefall worm or a dropshot rig with that same worm.
At Pickwick this month, you’ll catch largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass using these techniques and enjoy some great days of fishing.