Pick Your Spot for Post-Spawn Bass
TOLEDO BEND Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn; Sam Rayburn and Toledo Bend: No matter how you word it, those two lakes are almost one and the same. The only difference is that "the Bend" is about 67,000 surface-acres larger and harbors about twice the amount of shoreline - 1,200 miles in all.
More acreage equals more room for the bass to roam around in. It also means more cover, which means more good places to hide.
Veteran bass pro and fishing guide Tommy Martin is of the opinion that anglers can refine the search for easy-to-catch lunkers by concentrating their efforts north of the Pendleton Bridge.
"Overall, May can be a pretty tough month, especially down south," he said. "These fish will have been pounded for two months, and they can be reluctant to bite at times. If I were fishing a tournament on this lake this month, I'd probably fish north."
Martin will key on many of the same areas that he focused on during early spring, when the bass were in a pre-spawn and spawning mode. If the water's up like it normally is, he'll probe the outside bushes with Texas-rigged Zoom lizards and wacky-style Trick Worms.
"There also should be a decent topwater bite on chugger-style lures and maybe even buzzbaits," he said. "As a rule, the surface bite will be best early and late, but it can be good all day if we get some cloud cover and/or a little chop on the water."
Anglers who'd rather save gas and tough it out down south will need to scale down their baits and key on shoreline bushes, main-lake points and scattered grassbeds.
Wacky worms, tubes, soft jerkbaits and 1/4-ounce Rat-L-Traps will be tough to beat in the shallows. You'll also be able to draw some attention with a Carolina-rigged centipede or french fry. Dragging tends to produce the best results on main-lake points with scattered vegetation or none at all.
You can schedule a guide trip with Martin by calling him at (409) 625-4792.
PALESTINE Lake Palestine always gets its share of springtime bass fishing traffic. But the bulk of the pressure usually comes in February, March and early April, when pot-bellied bass are in their pre-spawn and spawning modes.
Things will have quieted down immensely on the 25,000-acre reservoir near Bullard by the time May rolls around. And so it's apt to go for the chances of catching a lunker largemouth: quietly.
"You won't catch a lot of big bass at Palestine during May, but the fishing can be pretty good for numbers," said fishing guide Ricky Vandergriff. "The fish should be feeding up pretty good."
Vandergriff likes to divide his time between the northern and southern quadrants of the lake. He generally catches better-quality fish up north by working a jig or a medium-diving crankbait along the edges of Kickapoo and Flat creeks, as well as the Neches River.
Most bites will come as the bait passes by or bumps into an underwater stump or laydown log. Defined bends in the channels deserve special attention, as well.
Vandergriff added that there also should be a decent bite on topwaters and soft jerkbaits like the Mr. Twister Slimey Slug or floating-style lizards. These lures produce the best results when worked in relation to weedbeds and other shallow cover during low-light hours or under cloudy conditions.
Anglers who choose to fish the middle and southern sections of the lake should concentrate on main-lake points and boat docks located relatively close to some sort of travel route or deepwater dropoff. Vandergriff says that boat docks and points doctored with manmade brush can be especially attractive.
Crankbaits and Carolina-rigged centipedes are among the top bait choices for point-hopping. Meanwhile, the guide suggests tying on a lightweight jig, small spinnerbait, tube lure or soft jerkbait for probing around docks.
Vandergriff can be reached at (903) 561-7299.
FORK Lake Fork needs no introduction in bass fishing circles, the 27,000-acre impoundment near Quitman having proved itself a trophy lake for all seasons many moons ago. To this day, the lake continues to shock the imaginations of hardcore bassers everywhere with its uncanny ability to yield the big bite.
On a scale of one to 10, fishing guide and Skeeter bass pro Brooks Rogers rates Fork's May fishing prospects a solid 11. "In my opinion, it's one of the very best months of the year," he asserted. "The out-of-state crowds are gone, so the fishing pressure will pretty much be limited to local anglers. For someone who likes to catch numbers of 2 1/2- to 5 1/2-pound fish, with the outside chance of catching a giant, now is the best time to come."
One of the neat things about May fishing at Fork is that more than just one or two baits or techniques will produce plenty of bites. According to Rogers, anglers can fish shallow or deep, and have just as much fun either way.
"As a rule, the deep fishing won't get cranked up until the middle of the month, though," he said. "I'll spend most of my time shallow during the first part of the month. After that, I'll fish shallow in the mornings, then move out to my structure spots after lunch."
Rogers reports that the topwater fishing can be incredible during low-light hours. He likes to throw a Yellow Magic or Zara Spook under calm conditions and a buzzbait if there's a little chop of the water.
The guide believes that surface-scratchin' is usually best around scattered patches of grass in the mouths of major creeks. He cited Little Caney, Dale, Garrett and Birch as his favorites. "The grass isn't everywhere, so you'll have to look for it," he said.
In addition to topwaters, Rogers says, lures intended to simulate the bass' primary food sources during late spring - shad, baby bass and perch - can enable anglers to land some quality fish. "Shallow-diving crankbaits like Mann's Baby Minus 1 will produce excellent results around the grass," he offered. "I also like a 1/4- or 3/8-ounce tandem spinnerbait with willow leaf blades. Bream and white are the main color patterns."
Once the deep-water patterns start to come together, anglers can really begin to run up the score. Rogers suggests working main-lake humps and ridges in 20 to 25 feet of water with Carolina-rigged centipedes, french fries and Texas-rigged plastic worms.
Night-fishing also starts to pick up during May. Most of the better catches come on Texas-rigged worms, craws and jigs worked on brushy main-lake points and other defined structure near abrupt deepwater dropoffs.
To book a trip with Rogers, call (903) 780-0680, or try Hollice Joiner at (903) 342-5359.
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