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Pick Your Spot for Post-Spawn Bass
Here's a look at East Texas' finest lakes for catching post-spawn largemouths. You won't go wrong fishing any of these in May.
By Matt Williams
Post-spawn bass fishing always gets a bad rap. It's widely accepted that bass are more difficult to catch in the 30 to 45 days after dumping their eggs than at any other time of the year.
Some anglers say the bass get sick after the spawn; others blame their empty creels on stress associated with the annual procreation ritual. Personally, I've never seen a bass regurgitate for any reason other than eating too much. Nor have I seen one with gray hair or bags under its eyes from worrying about the kids or a job it hates.
Lendell Martin Jr. thinks that one of the main reasons for post-spawn bass' being more difficult to catch is a mix of springtime fishing pressure and the angling public's reluctance to change tactics when the conventional ones begin to fail.
Think about it: If you'd been hooked in the mouth twice by a spinnerbait and seen other popular springtime lures a kazillion times during the last two months, would you continue to be so easy to fool?
"Some of the males may be wore out from guarding fry, but I'm convinced that fishing pressure plays the biggest role in why the fishing gets tough during May," said Martin, an FLW/EverStart bass pro and former fishing guide from Nacogdoches. "There are lots of anglers on the water during March and April, and all that pressure eventually takes its toll. The fish begin to wise up. The same thing happens in big tournaments, no matter what time of year it is. Weights usually drop progressively each day - mainly because of the pressure."
In most instances, Martin thinks, anglers can boost their catch/cast ratios during the post-spawn by switching to lures that the fish aren't accustomed to seeing, or by altering the speed or method of their retrieves. That's not to say that the old springtime favorites like the Rat-L-Traps, Texas-rigged lizards and spinnerbaits won't continue to produce strikes throughout the next 30 days - they will - but other baits might work better.
Next: a look some of East Texas' top bass lakes and a summary of how anglers might go about fishing them during one of the toughest stretches of the bassin' year.
Bottom line: Sam Rayburn has all the ingredients for a dynamite spring bass fishery.
Martin says that though many of the same areas that held fish during March and April will still be holding fish during May, anglers might need to throw the fish a changeup to catch them consistently. "There could possibly be some fish on beds down around the dam," he observed, "but the spawn should be wrapped up for the most part. Even so, there should still be a ton of fish in holding around the buckbrush and willows, provided we got some rain in late winter and early spring. If there is 3 feet of water in the bushes, the bass are going to be in there."
One of the most deadly baits anglers can tie on right now is a soft jerkbait. Virtually snag-free, the soft-plastic lure can be worked at a variety of depths with an enticing action that even educated bass usually find hard to resist.
Martin's favorite soft jerkbait is the 5- or 5 1/2-inch Yamamoto Senko. He fishes it Texas-style with a 4/0 Sugoi hook and no weight. "The key is getting it right in there next to the bush, and then teasing or aggravating the bass," he said. "That's the neat thing about finesse baits like the Senko. You're in full control of what the bait does beneath water. You can twitch it stop it and work it at any rate of speed until you figure out what it is the bass like."
Two other finesse baits worth tying on are the wacky worm and a tube lure. The wacky worm rig is composed of a straight-tail worm that's been hooked through the egg sac, with the business end of the hook left exposed. A wacky worm doesn't look like much when it's just hanging there, but twitch it around shallow bushes or weeds and it'll drive the bass nuts.
Several companies make worms especially designed for wacky worming. Gambler's Swacky Worm and Zoom's Trick Worm are two of the heavy favorites at Rayburn. The Senko also works pretty well when hooked through the gut.
The bush bite currently in progress in famed areas like Veach Basin, Black Forest, Caney Flats, Canyons, Needmore Point and Deer Stanley is augmented by the bass getting hot and heavy on topwaters and buzzbaits. According to Martin, surface-scratchers will likely be most effective when worked above submerged grassbeds in 4 to 12 feet of water.
For guide service, contact Ed Snelson, (936) 876-4324 or Scott Soisson, (409) 698-9430.
"The average depth of this lake is 20 to 25 feet," he said, "and that's deep for an East Texas reservoir. Because the lake is deep, it takes longer for the water temperatures to warm up and that usually means a later spawn."
While bass on the shallower upper end are likely to have spawned during late March and April, there should be plenty of bedding activity in progress this month from the midlake area south to the dam. Winters says that the majority of the spawning will occur on the shallow flats toward the rear of major feeder creeks. Crab, Grape, Winkler and Cedar always produce some solid fish during the first two weeks of May.
"The fish are going to be around shallow stumps, laydown logs and grass," he remarked. "Secondary points are always good places to look. You'll also need to check out any little inlet or pocket you come across."
There's nothing fancy about Winters' May menu. The matchup of a Texas-rigged lizard with a 1/4-ounce sinker always seems to get the best reviews. Top colors are chartreuse/pepper, red shad and pumpkinseed. "There also are quite a few fish caught on tubes, jigs and spinnerbaits, but the lizard is the No. 1 choice by far," he said."
Bass that call the northern reaches of the lake home are likely to be in a different stage of the game altogether during May. Winters' view is that those bass more than likely dumped their eggs sometime in March or early April, and so should be getting in the mood to look up about now.
"Topwaters will get some explosive hits around the shallow humps up north," he said. "But it's probably going to be an early and late deal. After that, you're going to need to move out to the edges of the creeks and throw crankbaits and Texas rigs."
For guide service, contact Stan Lawhon at (903) 872-1746.
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