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By Nathan Coker
In Fishing with Kenny
Apr 29th, 2021


May has always been an interesting month for bass fishing. The spring spawn has come and gone and things are starting to set up for the dog days of summer. Even though bass have completed their spawn, contrary to popular belief there are still a lot of fish that will remain shallow this time of year. The water has warmed into the high 70’s and low 80’s by this point but that doesn’t warrant bass to make a drastic move to their deeper summer haunts. There are too many things shallow to keep them there. 

Shallow water fish can be hard to catch, especially the ones who live shallow year-round. I refer to these fish as residential fish.  They have their territories, feeding schedules, and movements that can be just as difficult to pattern as the fish that migrate to deeper water each summer. The key is to understand their feeding habits and use this information to your advantage. 

During the month of May there are a couple of scenarios that play heavily into the livelihood and feeding habits of bass. The first one is the shad spawn and the second is the bream spawn. Both usually happen about the same time and I have always believed that is one of, if not the main reason, bass stay shallow for as long as they do after spawning. 

The shad spawn is the trickier of the two spawns as it is more timing and specific in its location. Early mornings are the best times to look for shad spawning and any additional morning cloud cover can prolong the shad spawn that usually only lasts a few hours at best. The shad will usually spawn in very specific key locations: shore line grass areas, cypress trees, seawalls, rip rap banks or other areas where a hard bottom edge meets the water line. Trust me when I say this, you will know a shad spawn when you see it! 

Once an area is located where a shad spawn is taking place, keep a close watch for bass actively feeding on the shad as they go through their spawning process. It’s like ringing the dinner bell and bass aren’t ones to pass up an easy meal, especially one they don’t have to work very hard for. Many tournaments have been won by people taking advantage of fishing a shad spawn. It is an excellent way to catch not just number of fish but big fish in a short period of time.  

When fishing a shad spawn, I have learned to keep my lures pretty basic. I will have a ½ double willow leaf spinnerbait, a walking topwater such as a Chug Bug, a squarebill crankbait and a swim jig/chatterbait. All of these lures will be either white, shad based or shad colored. If it is cloudy or a rainy day, I will add some chartreuse to my lures.   

A couple of other key things to remember when fishing a shad spawn: casting accuracy and boat control are critical. A shad spawn usually happens in very shallow water so you want to make sure you don’t allow the boat to upset a potential good area by getting too close to the action. This is also where casting accuracy plays such an important role, you want to place your lure as close as you can to the bank, right in the middle of the heat of the action. The less time the fish has to get a look at the lure, the better his chances of striking it. 

Another one of my favorite tactics this time of year is to fish the bream spawn. Unlike the shad, bream will spawn all the way through August and are plentiful in shallow water all the way through the summer into the fall. This is one reason I believe some of the bigger fish in any body of water can be caught shallow, even in the heat of the summer. To a big bass, bream beds are easy targets so the chances of missing out on a meal aren’t very likely. Ring the dinner bell a second time! 

Fishing a bream bed pattern is all about topwater fishing as well as using an old Louisiana stand-by. My lure selection consists of a prop bait like a Devil’s Horse, another walking topwater such as a bonecolored Spook, a Poppin’ Frog and a Wobblehead. Although the topwater’s are usually the best fish catchers, the Wobblehead becomes a better choice once the water temperature rises above 85 degrees. 

One of the key elements for this technique is your own power of observation as a fisherman.  Often times, if you will pay attention, you will be able to see a bass that is staking out a bream bed waiting to feed. Look on the outer edges of the bed, tucked in next to a seawall, or maybe you will see a wake around a shallow cypress tree. Observe before you make a cast. This is also a scenario where casting accuracy is very important. You may only get one chance to make a good cast to a specific spot to draw the fishes attention.  

Another key lure for fishing post-spawn bass is the Fluke style of lures. These are some of the best fish catchers you can have tied on during this time of year and will catch fish on just about any lake you go to, especially if it has grass flats or other aquatic vegetation.  Although the Fluke is very popular, some people still prefer to throw the old-style Slug-Go. I have found both will work but I have found that the Fluke catches more numbers whereas the Slug-Go tends to catch bigger fish. 

One of the advantages to fishing the Fluke is that it works just fine right out of the package.  However, the first thing I want to do with my Slug-Go is start tweaking it. I will add a bobber stopper and a small 1/32nd weight to the line before tying on my hook. I always insert a small rattle into the body of my Slug-Go just to give it a chiming sound in the water. I tend to work both the Fluke and the Slug-Go out of sight and in areas such as grass flats will even use the same style retrieve as you would if you were fishing a plastic worm. 

As far as colors, I have found Watermelon, Watermelon/Red and Junebug are the best when throwing a Fluke and I use Arkansas Shiner and Rainbow Trout for the Slug-Go, and maybe add a little chartreuse Dip-N-Dye to the tails for added attraction. Remember, there is really no way to fish these lures wrong, as long as you fish them slow. 

Well, it looks like we have run out of time and space again for another month. I sure hope we were able to share some information that will help you put more fish in your boat on your next outing. With the summer months ahead of us please be extra careful out on the water. With that addition to the jet skiers, party barges and ski boats, it will get crowded out there. Please stay safe and catch one for me! 

See you next month!