Fishing is in full swing all across the country now and seasons are about to open up north, so we hope everyone is getting out to enjoy some of the best fishing of the year right now. To help with that effort we rounded up our top baits for the different parts of the country we fish here at Wired2fish. Hopefully this will help you with some good choices and options for this spring fishing season.
Our video team is in Minnesota and their catch and release bass season as well as walleye and pike seasons open up this weekend. So there will be a lot of activity in the northern parts this weekend.
Jason and Terry are in the midwest and have been enjoying some bass fishing, crappie fishing and even bluegill fishing already this spring and there are fish in all phases of the spawn it seems because of the wild weather patterns we’ve had.
Our newest member of the team, Sam Hanggi, who just graduated from Auburn University, is down in Alabama and sharing his fishing tips now for fishing down south.
So here’s a quick rundown of our top choices for May and what we’re throwing and where.
Ryan DeChaine, Kobie Koenig and McKeon Roberts all provided input on their top tactics and lures for May fishing up north.
“I believe a jerkbait is the single best lure for targeting prespawn smallmouth,” Ryan DeChaine said about Minnesota fish in May. “From a curiosity standpoint alone, it seems smallmouth can’t resist showing themselves on an erratic jerkbait — they respond to it and usually eat too.”
Water temp usually dictates where in the water column prespawn smallmouth are positioned. Shortly after ice out, when water temps are in the mid-to-low 40s, fish are often off the edge of a first drop-off leading up to flats. Be prepared to fish deeper to get bait in the strike zone. When water temps warm, smallmouth can quickly filter up onto flats, following warmer water temps, baitfish, etc. You need to be equipped with deep and shallow running jerkbaits to reach the correct depth.
Related read: Best Lures for Smallmouth Bass
Check out this video of these jerkbaits in action on prespawn smallmouth.
As far as largemouth go, we throw a lot of moving baits in May. Northern largemouth will head towards shallow flats in the backs of bays, where you can fan cast around and consistently pick up bites. You can catch them on just about anything this time of year, so we like messing around with different baits. A swim jig and bladed swim jig both excel for largemouths this time of year so we go back and forth with a lot of different ones.
A Terminator Heavy Duty Swim jig or a Z-Man JackHammer are both great options as well as an Ark Elite Z Swimmer Swim Jig and a Freedom Tackle Swim Jig with Netbait BaitFuel Infused Paca Chunk on the back.
A skirted bass jig in the 1/4- to 1/2-ounce range is a go-to largemouth bait for northern bass in May. With the grass at a minimum, a jig is excellent for working hard cover and flats leading right up to the bank. You can pitch it or swim it, and it just gets bit.
Consider using a compact jig offering when the water temps are in the 40s and scaling up to conventional jig sizes in the 50s and 60s.
“Where smallmouth are positioned changes on a day-to-day basis in the spring, with water temps rapidly rising,” Kobie Koenig said. “A small swimbait on a 3/16-ounce jighead allows me to fish any depth while covering a ton of water. We like small 2.8 to 3.8-inch Keitech FAT Swing Impacts on Keitech heads, as well as the Storm Largo Shad 3 1/2 inch on a VMC Hybrid Swimbait Head. Check out Kobie’s video on this setup for May here. Kobie talks about how he fishes these swimbaits in this video.
I’m sharing what I’ve been doing the last month on Kentucky Lake and what I know is going on in this part of the country talking to my fishing network around this region.
Soft plastic stick baits
We have bass in all stages of the spawn right now with some fish done spawning, some fishing just getting on beds and some still about to go on beds. The cold nights have kept a lot of our fish at bay. But because so many bass are shallow and near shallow water, a Senko type stick bait or plastic is very hard to beat. I still fish it on my weighted hook because I can fish a little faster and cover more water that way. Pitch and cast it to targets like visible wood, grass, docks as well as things under the surface I see on LiveScope.
Right now I’m experimenting with heavyweight plastics like the Yamamoto Yamatanuki a lot and having good success. But also catching a bunch on a Yamamoto Senko and the new-to-me Perfection Lures Wacky Worm.
Floating worms and soft jerkbaits
For those fish that are post spawn and fry guarding, a soft jerkbait rigged on a weightless offset hook or on a hover strolling rig has been killer as has a floating worm for fish up shallower around cover. My staple floating worm is still the Zoom Trick Worm and I’ve been fishing a lot of different soft jerkbaits lately including the many listed in the Hover Strolling feature.
Finally bush flipping is synonymous with May fishing so a pitching plastic like a Missile Baits D-Bomb, the new Xcite Baits Sucks Punch and the Zoom Brush Craw have been on the deck for pitching into shallow cover looking for prespawn, spawn and post spawn bass as the water levels have come up a lot in the last week.
Sam Hanggi is sharing his top lures for May when fishing down south.
Shad Spawn Poppers
Throughout the south, the month of May is known for shad spawns. Once the water temps reach 70 degrees, which usually coincides with bass finishing spawning, shad begin to spawn in the early mornings. This provides a prime food source for bass wanting to feed up after the spawn. “One of my favorite lures to throw in this scenario is a Lobina Rico Bone Popper,” Hanggi said. “In the early mornings, you can find shad spawning on structures such as docks, seawalls and channel swing banks. A popper perfectly imitates these small baitfish spawning just under the surface of the water.”
One key reason this bait is so effective in this scenario is that you are able to slow down and pick apart a specific bank the baitfish are using to spawn. This allows you to maximize the fish in that area that are actively feeding during the short window you have to catch them. Furthermore, you miss far less fish on a popper as opposed to a walking topwater or other fast-moving shad imitations.
The popper is fished much slower than other topwater baits, which allows for a better hookup ratio and landing percentage. A popper also has a lot of drawing power which allows the fish to better key in on your bait. This is important when there are lots of other baitfish in the area these bass could be feeding on. The Rico popper also has a very small profile which is important when trying to imitate the small baitfish that spawn this time of year. Hanggi prefers bone or any other natural shad color in order to match the forage.
Deep Diving Crankbaits
“May is the beginning of ledge season here in the south, and one of the best baits to target these fish is a Strike King 8XD,” Hanggi said. “During the summer months, bass begin to move out to the river ledges to feed on baitfish and other types of forage that are pushed up and down these ledges by current. Large crankbaits are one of the most effective lures to target these fish in the early summer months.”
A large crankbait allows you to cover tons of water and generate reaction bites that other slow moving baits may not get. In the early summer months, bass tend to be far more aggressive on the ledges and willing to bite as opposed to later months once they’ve seen a lot of fishing pressure. An 8XD allows you to be far more efficient and rotate more schools in a days time than using bottom baits or other finesse tactics.
An 8XD can also be fished in a variety of depths all the way from 12-20 feet. This allows you to fish numerous depths and quickly locate the most active schools on your body of water. Hanggi prefers both natural shad colors and chartreuse colors when choosing a deep diving crankbait. Both options are great for generating quality bites and can lead to some really fun days on the water.
Big Feathered Hair Jigs
“One lure that I’m always excited to pick up come May is the True Bass Shuttlecock,” Hanggi said. “Large feathered hair jigs are a ledge-fishing staple throughout the TVA and is something I’ll never leave the house without once summer hits.”
This is often Hanggi’s first choice when deciding what to throw first on a school of bass. The big hook on the Shuttlecock allows for a great hook-up ratio and landing percentage which is crucial when trying to fire up a school of fish. Often times, if you lose a fish out of a school, it will ruin the entire group causing them to disperse. So, it’s really important to get those fish to the boat in order to keep them biting cast after cast.
“I’ve found that a big hair jig often catches some of the biggest fish in the school, which is another reason I like to throw this bait first when approaching a group of fish,” Hanggi said. “True Bass makes these jigs in a variety of different sizes that all have their own time and place, however I’ve found that the 5/8-ounce size is my go to for the majority of scenarios.”