Catch Ross Barnett’s May largemouths

Some postspawn bass will be in Ross Barnett’s shallow water at the first of May.

Bass will make plenty big moves as post-spawn month progresses

You’ll have numerous choices of lures and tactics at Ross Barnett in May, a post-spawn month. Early, the bass will roam everywhere. From the middle to the end of May, bass will move to deeper ledges.

Early May bassing 

At daylight, I’ll fish riprap all over the lake, beginning at the dam, looking for bass chasing shad. I’ll have a white buzzbait tied on one rod and a Pop-R on another. The buzzbait, fished fast, is there to catch actively-feeding bass. The Pop-R, fished with a slower presentation, makes a loud or a soft pop. You can retrieve it quickly or pop it and stop it. 


• Buzzbait. I’ll cast a 3/8-ounce white buzzbait on 23-pound White Peacock fluorocarbon on a Bruin 7.3:1 reel and a 6-foot-10, heavy action FX Custom rod parallel to the rocks holding bass. I’ll retrieve it quickly in the shallowest water. Since the bass will be ganged up in certain places, you may fish 200 yards of riprap and not get a single bite, but then get several. If I get four or five bites in a 50-yard stretch, I’ll haunt that spot, fishing it heavily. You may have the opportunity to catch a 5- to 7-pound bass in that skinny water. 

• The Pop-R. Sometimes May bass prefer a slowly moving bait they can watch before attacking. I’ll cast a Pop-R, work it quickly for about 2 to 3 feet and then stop it. I like a shad-colored Pop-R with a white tail on its back treble hook. Often, the bass will hit the tail of the lure when it’s sitting still. If I don’t get bites with that retrieve, I’ll pop the Pop-R softer to make it spit but not cause a big splash. I’ll fish the Pop-R on 23-pound fluorocarbon on an 8:1 Bruin reel and a 6-foot-9, medium-action FX Custom rod. The softer tip on this rod allows the bass to suck those treble hooks deeper into its mouth. 

• SpringR worm. Shad may spawn on rocks, boat docks or vegetation. I’ll fish a follow-up lure like a junebug-colored SpringR worm rigged wacky style with a No. 1/0 hook to catch the bass that may strike at the buzzbait but miss it. I’ll use spinning tackle with a 15-pound braid tied with a Uni-Knot to a 6-foot leader of 15-pound fluorocarbon. 

• Super Frog. After the morning bite, I’ll go to the east side of the lake and fish the lily pads with a white Super Frog on a 7-foot-3, heavy action FX Custom rod with a 7.3:1 Bruin reel and 50-pound braid tied to the eye of the frog. I’ll constantly keep the frog moving in the lily pad openings and retrieve the frog quickly toward the boat’s stern to get actively feeding bass to chase and eat the frog. If I’m not getting any strikes, I’ll stop the frog in the openings of the lily pads and move it slowly to catch bass that won’t chase the frog. 

• Craw worm. Ross Barnett also has some small patches of thick, viney grass growing in the lily pads that I’ll fish with a 1-ounce sinker and a craw worm. That weight can penetrate the grass in 2- to 5-foot deep water. 

The rest of the month

I’ll fish the west side of the lake in the Natchez Trace area, with its plentiful ledges and underwater roads, bridges and stumps, generally in 8 to 10 feet of water. 

• T15+ crankbait. My favorite bait on the ledges and the underwater structure I spot with my depthfinder is a shad colored T15+ crankbait. My 23-pound fluorocarbon on a 6.2:1 Bruin reel will be fished on a 7-foot-6 cranking-action FX Custom rod. I’ll fish fairly fast and cover a lot of water. Once I get bites, I’ll slow down. I may catch three or four bass on the crankbait before they quit biting. 

Jelly Worm

• Little George, Jelly Worm. Next, I’ll fish two different baits to fire up the school of bass like a ½-ounce Little George with a blue back and pearl sides. I’ll use the same rod, reel and line I’ve fished with the crankbait. I’ll also fish a watermelon/red 6-inch Jelly Worm on a 1/8-ounce shaky head jig with my spinning outfit. I like 15-pound braid tied to a 15-pound, 5- to 6-foot fluorocarbon leader. I’ll fish the shaky head worm just like a Texas-rigged worm, hopping it off the bottom, letting it fall back, shaking it, hopping it off the bottom, allowing it to fall back and shaking it. 

In a day of May fishing at Ross Barnett, I’ll catch about 15 keeper-sized bass — mostly in the 1½- to 2-pound range, with a few bass weighing 3 to 7 pounds.

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Paul Elias
About Paul Elias 166 Articles
Paul Elias, of Laurel, has fished 15 Bassmaster Classics with career winnings of over $1 million, including one Bassmaster Classic Championship. Elias also holds the current record for a four-day BASS tournament weigh-in with 132 pounds, 8 ounces, on Falcon Lake in Texas.

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