May: The Transitional Month

Well, I hope that you have enjoyed reeling in high numbers of large bass and crappie in the shallows this past month, because we are at the brink of one of the most transitional months of the year. It is during May that both bass and crappie start in shallow water and begin to migrate into to deeper water for the summer months.

Even though the weather and conditions are changing this time of year, surprisingly some of the tactics that you have used in prior months can still produce nice stringers of fish. Just as bass and crappie head into the shallows to spawn as the water warmed into the low 60s, they will start to exit those shallow spawning areas as the water reaches the low 70s.

When your temperature gauge is showing around the 70-degree mark, take a moment and think back to some areas that you may have had some success in when the water was in the low 50s. The route and cover that these fish utilized as they move into the spawning areas will also be utilized on their migration back to deeper water. Stumps and brush piles lining creek channel ledges in 8-10′ of water will hold a large concentration of fish just as that same cover did during the prespawn.

One of the toughest aspects of fishing this time of year is dealing with fish that are “shell shocked” from the spawn. Just as a mother of a newborn doesn’t feel like running a marathon after returning home from the hospital, fish often need some time to recover from the taxing time of making beds and laying eggs. If you are struggling to catch fish, don’t let yourself become frustrated. By moving to a different section of the lake, you may place yourself in an area that is holding fish that have had more time to recover from spawning and are ready to feed.

It may be necessary to burn some gas during this time to find the fish, but by trying different areas, you will be able to find the fish you’re seeking.

The one factor that successful fisherman always pay attention to is the water temperatures. This is by far the most critical factor in being able to pinpoint the areas of the lake to focus on and the baits that you should be using. By being aware of water temperatures, and paying close attention to what the fish are telling you by where, when and how they bite, you’re well on your way to discovering some annual patterns that will help you catch more fish season after season.

For more information on fishing techniques and local fishing reports, or booking a day of great fishing, check out briancarper.com or give me a call at (615) 278-6311. Best luck to you this month on the water. Be safe, and God Bless!


About the Author

Brian Carper is a local fishing guide working Percy Priest and Old Hickory lakes. For any questions on fishing, contact him at (615) 278-6311 or brian@briancarper.com.

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