On Lake Murray, the month of May is when bass are typically finishing spawning and the shad spawn starts. However, this is not a typical year. The bass spawn happened quickly this year, and the shad are well into their spawning cycle. Most of the largemouth bass on Murray have finished spawning and have already started to move toward their summer patterns. Lake wide, bass will be actively feeding on shad and bluegill that are spawning.
On the upper reaches of the lake, from Dreher Island upriver where the water has more color, look for fish to be focusing more on the bluegill spawns and, in some areas, mayfly hatches. Techniques of choice are crankbaits that dive to the 2- to 4-foot range, such as an IMA square bill; Greenfish ½-ounce spinnerbait in Chartreuse and White; Greenfish ½-ounce jigs in Green Pumpkin; soft plastics flipping baits, such as the Reins Punchin’ Predator and Ring Claw Daddy, rigged on a 1/4-ounce or 5/16-ounce Reins TG Slip Sinker; Finesse worms in a Natural or Green Pumpkin color, or a merthiolate- or white-colored Trick worm fished weightless. Look for bass chasing topwaters, such as a buzzbait, frogs, prop bait, like the Ima Helips, or poppers, like the new IMA Finesse Popper 65. Use top-water, crankbait and spinnerbait techniques early in the morning on the shad spawn, switching to slower techniques in the same areas after the sun comes out, targeting areas with shade and where bluegill spawn, such as laydowns, docks and overhanging trees. Key on areas with a hard bottom, visible cover in the form of laydowns or docks, and that hold shade the longest throughout the day.
On the lower end of the lake, from Dreher Island to the dam, look for flatter primary and secondary points where the shad spawn will be taking place. Focus on walking topwaters, like the IMA Skimmer; wakebaits such as the IMA Bone Floating Flit; swimbaits like the Optimum Boom Boom Swimbait and Reins 4-inch Fat Rockvibe Shad; and soft jerkbaits, like the Optimum Victory Tail. Slow down with a jig, shaky head, dropshot or trick worm in a Watermelon or Green Pumpkin color, and the Optimum Victory Tail, rigged weightless, in a Chrome, Shad or Sexy Shad color, when fish seem more lethargic later in the day or at times with no wind. Flatter points with wind are always the most productive this time of year. Follow the wind from day to day, fishing points that have the most direct wind blowing on them.
The month of May is typically when bass are finishing up spawn and starting to feed on the herring spawn. This year, spawn has come early and the top-water bite is in full swing. This is a great month to pick up your favorite shallow water lure and just go fishing. Bass will be around shallow cover in the river and transitioning from secondary to primary points on the lower end of the lake. Be sure to focus on areas with bait and hard-bottom areas.
A great way to get out, enjoy the outdoors, and do a little fishing is to book a trip with one of the Lake Murray area guides. I am a certified Fisheries Biologist, am Coast Guard Approved, am a full-time largemouth bass guide, and have fished fulltime and competitively for the past 11 years across the country on both the BASS and FLW trails. I have a lifetime of fishing experience and am able to teach you multiple techniques of your choice, tournament preparation, and/or electronics education. I would love to share my knowledge with you on the water and enjoy a day of fishing.
Merchant Mariner Licensed