Hello anglers and outdoor addicts. My heart goes out for the weekend warriors who have been waiting for the weekend and then are met with a strong cold front to hit during the weekend. As they well know there have been two fronts in a row the past two weekends and these were very strong fronts.
Normally by mid-to-late April the fronts slow down but not so this spring. Early Monday morning on the way to Rayburn my truck thermometer read 39 degrees and it didn’t get out of 40s on the lake until nearly 9 a.m. No doubt I pulled out my Gortex.
LAKE CONDITIONS: The lake level is close to full pool (172’ msl) with surface water temps running from 60-62 early morning warming to 63-64 mid- day. North Toledo remains heavily stained, mid lake is stained in back of feeder creeks and clearing as it gets closer to main lake. South Toledo has a good bit of clear water from the dam north 3-4 miles but Six Mile is stained (2 ft. visibility), Sandy Creek is maybe a foot of visibility and Housen Bay is similar to Six Mile but the back of Housen is stained.
Late April on south Toledo gives an angler many options including catching bass as shallow as 2 feet or as deep as 30’. It is also a great time for top water which for many anglers is the favorite way to catch bass. After the effects of the cold front minimizes, top water patterns should return. There’s so many baits to use when fishing up top and some of my favorites are plastic frogs. I love to buzz a Ribbit in pumpkin pearl over shallow grass and also slowly work a Top Toad with pauses over grass and pads. Some of my favorite Top Toad colors are solid white and melon pearl. I usually fish white on sunny days and melon/pearl the first hour of daylight or with cloudy conditions. You can find both Ribbits and Top Toad at Fishstanley.com.
Another topwater pattern that works is popping baits such as Frenzy Popper, Chug Bug and Yellow Magic. For these I like shad patterns. I also love to fish walking baits such as Frenzy Walkers and Zara Spooks also in shad patterns. Walking baits tend to catch bigger bass than poppers. That’s not saying you can’t catch a trophy bass on a Pop R but the general trend is walking baits tend to catch bigger fish. One reason could be that the walking baits are usually larger and usually big baits catch bigger fish.
It looks we will start May on Toledo with a full lake so bass will have lots of area to roam and feed. I like to take a Texas rig and add no weight and cast it into shallow grass (2-6’) and use a bright colored worm like bubble gum or solid chartreuse. 90% of strikes will be visible using this set-up and it’s a fun way to fish. I remember a trip several years ago in May where there was a light rain all day so many bass were shallow and we caught over 40 fish using this method.
May is also a great month to fish deep and two of my favorite deep patterns are Carolina rigs and drop shot. For C Rigs I use 17 lb test Berkley Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon for both main line and leader. I usually use a 24-30 inch leader and rig the C. rig old school using three Palomar knots and a ball bearing swivel. Some of my favorite soft plastics on a C. rig are Havoc’s Boss Dog (lizard) in green pumpkin and watermelon candy red and Chigger Craw (4 inch) in green pumpkin.
Also a drop shot is awesome in May . I mainly fish spinning tackle when vertically drop shotting using 6-8 lb. test fluorocarbon or Berkley XL with a #1 Fusion drop shot hook with a 1/8 or 3/16 oz. drop shot sinker. For drop shot bait I use a Bottom Hopper Jr. (4.75 inch) in green pumpkin or June Bug or Robo worms (4.5 in) in morning Dawn. For Carolina rigs and drop shot I fish from 15 to 30 feet with more from 18 to 26 feet.
CRAPPIE: Crappie guide, Jack Adams, says May is a strong month for crappie as there will be lots of crappie on his brush piles. He will fish from 18 to 26 feet with live shiners, crappie jigs and Road Runners. I just heard from Adams and the weather allowed him to get to his brush piles Monday and he reported catching 25-30 with several weighing 1.5 lbs. using live shiners.
Joe Joslin is a syndicated writer and is published by numerous websites, newspapers and magazines plus is a pro guide on Toledo Bend and Sam Rayburn and a TPWD licensed guide since 1998. Contact at firstname.lastname@example.org, 337-463-3848/409-565-1288 and website www.joejoslinoutdoors.com.