“The Southern Tackle Box”
Moving out in May
On our area lakes, May is a time when I start thinking of moving fish. The water is warming quickly and the fish are starting to relate to areas closer to deeper water. The stripers are starting to migrate to the mouths of the creeks and as we get further into May you should find a few on main lake humps and points. Exact locations will vary from year to year but generally speaking the patterns are usually the same. If I’m looking for stripers, the first place I’m going to start looking is the bays and coves from mid creeks to the mouths of the creeks. During this period the stripers are schooled up and moving fast. A lot of times you can find them on the first pass and then they are gone. One thing I’ve learned about stripers in May is that they sometimes move from one landmark to another and then back. By this I mean that they may work from one secondary creek point to another and then move right back. They may go back and forth patrolling an area for moving bait several times a day.
Bait will be slowly migrating out to the mouths of our creeks and the stripers are patrolling in wait for these bait schools to move through. If you are lucky enough to run across one of these striper schools, it’s best to stay in the area even if the fish disappear, most times they will be back. Later in the month of May, you’ll find school sized stripers frequenting main lake humps in search of bait foraging on these humps. U-rigs are a great choice for these fish, especially if the wind is blowing across the lake, making it hard to keep live bait over these fish. Generally, if the fish are on these humps, they are there to eat and pulling a u-rig over these fish is a no brainer. A nice chop on the surface of the lake provides a great backdrop for upward feeding fish and pulling a u-rig is a great way to fool the hungry stripers waiting below. I’ve found that these fish don’t react to single moving artificial baits as well as multiple baits such as a u-rig.
If you are out early in the morning, topwater action is always a possibility over these same humps. Blueback Herring love swimming close to the surface at times and they are an easy meal for a striper waiting below. Sammy’s, Redfin’s, Jerkbait’s and my personal favorite, a bone colored Super Spook Jr. I can walk it or wake it, I feel confident when I’m using little Spook with my medium spinning gear spooled up with a good fluorocarbon line. As a bonus, if the stripers aren’t in these areas, there’s usually a hungry bass that will take a swipe at a topwater offering.
Every year on Memorial Day weekend my wife and get together with our friends and neighbors to have a fish fry and we usually have a few bass and stripers on the menu. Every year I use the same tactic to procure the fish we need for the tasty filets. I free line and use planer boards with Blueback Herring as bait over main lake humps and primary lake points very early in the morning. Sometimes you’ll need to put a little split shot a few feet up the line and that will keep your bait slightly below the surface. I also like to keep my trolling motor speed at .5 to .8 mph. It’s a great way to catch a few fish and especially if you have little ones, it’s a great tactic for making a few memories. In May our lakes are starting to get a little busy with fishermen and recreational boater, so be safe and be courteous out there and enjoy the month of May!