This month, I expect to know where the bass are concentrated and to catch them fairly easily. At Lake Bogue Homa, east of Laurel, fishermen can expect to catch and release 25 to 35 bass a day in May, with some of those fish weighing 3 to 5 pounds due to the lake's being restocked about three years ago.

Fishing the FrankenToad

Early in the morning, late in the afternoon or on an overcast day, the Mann's HardNose FrankenToad will be hard to beat around the lily pads and the grass. Although I let the cover dictate the lure I'll fish, I prefer to fish all the way around the bank.

When I'm fishing lily pads and grass, I'll be fishing the FrankenToad on 30-pound-test braided line with a 7-foot, 8-inch Pinnacle light-flipping rod. I need the length and the power in this rod to turn the bass's head, so it won't get down in the pads and the grass, and a Pinnacle Optimus XLT 7.3:1 gear-ratio reel to move the bass quickly after I set the hook.

Bogue Homa has plenty of shallow water, and there are patches of lily pads in almost every little pocket. I stay on the outside of the lily pads, and retrieve that FrankenToad across the pads. I'll be using a No. 6/0 heavy Gamakatsu hook with no weight on it, and instead of popping the FrankenToad in the holes, I'll be using a steady retrieve.

There are two secrets to hooking a bass when it blows up on the FrankenToad. When you get a boat-shaking explosion on that bait, you'll probably miss the bass, because you've set the hook. You just can't help it, since that reflex action is hard to break. So, expect to lose some bass. But if you can control the flinch that causes you to set the hook, and wait until you feel the bass on the line, you'll catch more fish.


Taking bass from cypress trees

When I fish cypress knees, cypress trees, lay-down logs and any other type of wood in the water, I'll use two tactics to catch the bass, but I hope they'll take the first one. First, I'll fish a 5-inch Mann's HardNose Freefall Worm in green pumpkin or junebug, which are two of the most-productive colors of soft-plastic baits. The green-pumpkin and junebug colors will catch bass all over the country in any lake that has grass in it. I'll be fishing the worm on 15-pound-test fluorocarbon line with the same 7-foot, 8-inch light-flipping rod and 7.3:1 gear-ratio reel I used with the FrankenToad. I won't be using any weight ahead of the worm. I'll fish with a No. 5/0 Gamakatsu hook.

I'll pitch first to the trunk of the cypress trees and then around the cypress knees that will be out from the trunk. I let the worm slow-fall naturally, because I want to convince those bass that this worm fell off the limb of the cypress trees. I prefer to fish the worm first, since if there's an aggressive bass anywhere around that tree, it will come up and take the worm. I'd much rather catch the bass in open water then have to dig it out of the roots of a cypress tree.

However, if I can't get the bass to take the worm, I'll try to dig it out of the roots with a Mann's 1/2-ounce black/blue Stone Jig and a Mann's Crawdad as a trailer on 20-pound-test fluorocarbon line. I'll fish with the same rod I did with the FrankenToad and the Freefall Worm. I'll pitch the jig in the same places where I've pitched the worm. That jig will fall fast and hopefully in front of the face of a bass that's holed up in those roots and stumps.

You will hang up some jigs around the cypress roots and stumps, but the weed guard on the Stone Jig is pretty stout and will prevent many hang ups. Also, when that Stone Jig hits the bottom, it stands up, letting the skirt flare out and that crawfish wave its pincers. Once the jig hits the bottom, I shake the rod tip, causing the line to quiver to make the jig and the trailer vibrate to produce a life-like action. After I've shaken the jig, if I don't get a bite in a few seconds, I'll pull the jig out of that spot and flip it to another one.

If you don't put the jig down in the roots where the bass live, you won't catch them. When the bass takes the jig, you have to hit it hard and fast and get its head turned up to pull it out of those roots. That's why I prefer this long rod and powerful reel.

Lake Bogue Homa holds numbers of bass. You'll catch plenty of 1 1/2- to 2-pounders, but you'll also catch 4-pounders. You also stand a good chance of getting a 5-pound-plus bass to anchor your catch.