I am a Taurus bull, so I really love to get on the water in May and chase bass. It is a great fishing month, because there are a lot of fish on the bank that are easy to catch. We’ve finally got stable weather across the Carolinas, and even though some of the months earlier in the year might be better for catching your personal biggest fish, May is probably the most fun for me to go fishing.
One reason I love May is because so many bass are still shallow. They haven’t headed out to deep water for the summer; you can catch them around all kinds of shallow-water cover, and they’re hungry and easier to catch. This is a time when you can catch fish only a wide variety of baits. I love to fish topwater baits, and I love the old saying “I’d rather catch one on topwater than two or three on anything else.” I think May is probably the best month for topwaters in the Carolinas, but fish will hit a variety of baits fished in a variety of presentations.
I really love to fish three different baits in May: a Rapala X-Rap Prop, a 5-inch Senko, and a floating worm. Here’s how I fish them, and in what circumstances.
Rapala X-Rap Prop
My favorite topwater bait to throw this month is a Rapala X-Rap Prop, which has spinners on each end of the bait. I love to throw it in May because you still have a lot of male fish up in the shallows guarding fry. You can make a real disturbance on the surface, then let it just sit still. I like to fish a buzzbait, but I really love to fish an X-Rap Prop.
I fish it on a 6-foot-6, medum-action Lew’s Speed Stick with a Speed Spool reel spooled with 14-pound monofilament. If I’m going to just get out and cover water, looking for fish, that’s when I love an X-Rap Prop. If I’m not fishing at any specific cover, that’s just perfect.
How I like to fish the bait is to cast it out and make two or three quick little twitches with the rod tip, then let it sit for two or three seconds. If I come to a target, say, a shallow stump, a lily pad or the corner of a dock, I’ll give it one twitch and then let it sit as long as five seconds. One thing I’ve learned is that you have to be patient when you’re fishing an X-Rap Prop. It’s the key to catching fish — letting that bait just sit there. It can be tough, especially when you are fishing open water, and it’s even more important when you are fishing one particular target.
My favorite soft-plastic bait, hands down, is a 5-inch Senko. I like to fish it Texas-rigged on a 6-foot-6, medium-heavy Speed Stick and a Speed Spool filled with 12- to 14-pound XPS fluorocarbon. My favorite colors are green pumpkin or green pumpkin/purple flake.
There are about 50 different ways to rig a Senko. I will wacky rig it earlier in the year, and you can fish it that way in May, but I think it’s better Texas-rigged and weightless on a 3/0 or 4/0 VMC offset worm hook. That combination is heavy enough to cast on a baitcasting outfit.
Typically, I want to fish a Senko around some kind of target. I want to get it next to the target and let it drop and do its thing. One mistake I see people make is not letting the bait sink on a slack line. If it’s falling on a tight line, it’s going to hurt the bait’s action, and it’s going to pull it away from your target a little. I don’t engage the reel until the bait hits the bottom. I watch the line floating on the surface, and I can tell when it’s hit the bottom, and I can also tell if a fish hits it on the fall. Falling on a slack line, the bait produces the most action.
My third-favorite bait to fish in May is a floating worm. I’m going to use really bright colors — whites, pinks and yellows — and I’m going to fish it on a 6-foot-6, medium action Speed Stick and a reel spooked with 12-pound XPS fluorocarbon. Lots of fishermen with fish a floating worm on spinning tackle, but I really prefer to fish it on a baitcasting outfit, because I like that leverage the rod gives me to get fish out of bad places.
I like to fish a floating worm if I’m trying to cover a lot of water, and I want to keep the bait moving just below the surface. I work it with my rod tip down, back and forth, and I might stop it momentarily, maybe for a half-second, but I’m keeping that bait moving. I’m using it as a search bait, looking for any fish that might be up shallow, looking for an easy meal.
When and where
Plenty of bass are shallow in May, but there are two different situations you really need to look for. The first is the blueback herring or shad spawn, depending on which lake you’re fishing. You’re more likely to catch herring spawning early in May, and early in the morning. Look for birds working and listen for splashes along the bank. The bass know when the herring are spawning; they’re easy meals.
The second situation is the bluegill spawn. This will probably take place later in the month, especially around a full moon. Look for those bluegill beds, all those little craters on the bottom in one place. You can be sure there will be a bass somewhere close by, looking to get an easy meal.
A lot of guys fish around edges of the beds. You can do that, but I like to throw it right in the middle of ’em. I’m going to start with an X-Rap Prop, then go with a Senko. Both of them can be killers when you fish them across or through a bream bed.