May Fishing on Murphy Area Lakes

By Aaron Kephart

As I write this, I am reflecting upon a magnificent guide trip from this morning, one in which we put over 30 hybrids and a bunch of spots in the boat in just a couple of hours. As good as the fishing is right now, I am already looking forward to next month. Although the spring fishing has been phenomenal on our Murphy area lakes, particularly in April, if I had to pick one month a year to fish our lakes it would be May, and I would like to take a brief moment to look at why, for each species.

Stripers and Hybrids– May is prime time for stripers and hybrids. These fish are gorging themselves on the spawning herring, and they know that now is the easiest time of year for them to get a meal. Water levels have stabilized, fish location has become somewhat predictable, and the weather is essentially devoid of nasty, extreme fronts. A variety of live bait tactics (planer boards, down lines, even light spinning tackle) will catch these fish, as will the occasional topwater or swimbait. The warming water also has their metabolism in overdrive, making them aggressive. Put simply, although we put them in the boat consistently 12 months out of the year, in my opinion May is THE month to pursue stripers. May is also traditionally the month we land the biggest Hiwassee stripers for whatever reason, so definitely give me a call if you are looking for some of these hard pulling fish.

Bass– The bass bite is also phenomenal in May. Generally speaking, the water levels stabilize, the fish are done with their spawning ritual, and they have to eat to replenish lost energy. The largemouth are biting, and you can generally catch as many spots as you feel like. In fact, they can even be somewhat of a nuisance simply because they eat up so many baits. If you are interested in simply catching big numbers of fish, a bass trip in May is one way to get it done.

Crappie and Walleye– May traditionally begins the start of a phenomenal night bite for crappie, particularly during warm springs and stable water levels. These are also very laid back, relaxing trips for a group or family that just wants to hang out and have some stress free fishing for a few hours, without having to get up super early. We also often get on a fair walleye bite certain years during the month of May. It all depends on how successful the stockings were from years past, but May is one of your best bets for a toothy, delicious walleye dinner.

On a side note, many of you have texted, called, and emailed me about progress on Apalachia. Even though the Apalachia ramp is still closed as of this writing, they are making considerable progress on the new ramp. I anticipate it being open in plenty of time for our summer smallmouth trips. Many of you out there have fished this lake with me for the summer smallmouth bite, and you can all attest to the fantastic fishing that lake holds. If you are interested in one of these trips, go ahead and call me so we can get you on the books before the schedule fills up. Also, please remember I am 100 percent catch and release on smallmouth.

While spring and summer dates often fill quickly and in advance, please don’t hesitate to give me a call if you are interested in a trip with me on one of our beautiful Murphy area lakes. I have been exceedingly blessed to have experienced the success I have in this business the last few years, and even though my boat may be booked, I have a couple of other competent, trustworthy, and professional guides running overflow trips for me now, and can run multiple boats if necessary. I also have a new boat dog, a Boykin spaniel puppy named Curly, and he loves fishing and new people. Come see Curly and me, and get on some of the finest, least crowded fishing in the South. I have fished these lakes my entire life, and I love sharing them with new folks. Thanks again, and have a great day!

Aaron Kephart is the Owner of Mountain Lakes Guide Service. To book a guided trip on one of the Murphy area mountain lakes, contact him by email at or visit and catch him on facebook@mountainlakesguideservice.