Lake Harding

by Steve ‘Colonel’ McCorckle

Temperatures have been warmer than normal, and May looks to be a warm month with the highs into the 80’s and possibly 90’s. The water temperatures have begun to rise, and I expect them to rise into the mid 70’s as we get into May. The water is at full pool, and for the most part is fairly clear. I have not seen the development of hydrilla yet, but I expect that we will start to see it in May. There is a large development of algae, especially upriver in the coves and backwaters.

Bass are still shallow for the most part, but most have already bed and are moving off to feed. In the next few weeks I expect that bass will be able to be caught shallow with trick worms, frogs, jerkbaits, topwater, Texas rig worms or tube/plastic jigs. Target areas in the coves and in the backwaters up the river where there are grass beds or structure. Best colors for trick worm are chartreuse, white and methylate. Best worm colors for Texas rig are June bug, red bud and green pumpkin. Bass can also be caught fishing the blowdowns upriver along the deeper banks. On the main lake, bass will be able to be caught around docks and other structure and also around weed beds.

Crappie are still biting in shallow water and also under the bridge in Halawaka Creek. Crappie have already gone on bed and are in the coves and small pockets that have brush piles, submerged trees and other structure. The best method is to use a 1/16 to 1/8 crappie jig with a small cork. I have found that 18 to 24 inches from the cork to the jig is best right now. The best colors are white/chartreuse, green/red/chartreuse and yellow/chartreuse. Another very good method is to fish with minnows in these same areas. Still only have your hook about 18 to 24 inches from the cork. On the main lake, crappie are also around the docks with brush piles and structure. As we get into May, expect the crappie to move off the bank and be around structure around docks and under the bridges.

Striped bass can still be caught, and if you are willing to chance going to the shoals at the north end of the lake, you can catch some good stripers, and the bite there is fantastic right now. On the main lake and in the major creeks, the stripers and hybrids are still off the flats in deeper water and move up onto the flats to feed and into the small coves near deep water feeding. When they move up to feed, then you have a chance to catch some really good fish. Best baits still are Rat-L-Traps, jerkbaits, topwater and other baits that imitate shad.

Sunfish have moved back into the shallow water, and you can catch these fish on the bed using crickets, red wigglers or small jigs. Catfish are also beginning to bite pretty good too.

Enjoy the nice spring weather and some of the best fishing of the year on Lake Harding.