Of all the months, May might be the best for bass fishing. No matter where you live, most of the bass population is likely shallow and ready to eat. In addition, it's a month when many different lures will work, according to accomplished bass pro Greg Hackney.
"May is one of those months when many things are going to work, and you can fish just about anything and catch bass," he said. "You've got fish in all stages, doing some of everything. Some are still up shallow, and some are starting to migrate to deeper water if they've already spawned, but they're not all doing the same thing."
Another consideration is where you live, as different climates can mean vastly different things in May. "It all depends on what part of the country you are in," he said. "In certain parts of the country, you can be out offshore with a deep diving crankbait; up north, they are still spawning. There's so much going on this month, and you also might have a shad spawn or bluegill spawn bite happening."
With all the variables out there, Hackney still relies on a core group of baits, no matter where he finds himself during May.
Together, a walking topwater like a Strike King Sexy Dawg or KVD Popper are two of Hackney's best baits for May. Since shad are a prominent part of a bass's diet this year, he says it's hard to go with a white or bone-colored bait for either lure style.
"May is the best month of the year for a popper, pretty much anywhere in the country," he said. "This is a time of year when there are always fish shallow, and a popper is something they will eat all day long. It's not just a morning or evening deal because the water temperature is perfect for bass to live shallow, and they will bite it. Whether fishing around docks or bushes or for bass guarding fry, a topwater is one of the best ways to fool a bass."
For his walking bait, Hackney likes to fish around shallow cover. They excel because he says bass are in a feeding mood and willing to explode on a baitfish imitator on the surface.
"May is one of the best months to catch a big bass on a topwater bait," he said. "I like to fish them around isolated laydowns, trees, and boat docks. The bass this time of year are usually not on the sitting bottom. Instead, they are generally suspended and lingering around after they spawn, which makes a perfect situation for a topwater bait."
After the bass spawn, other species follow, and that's why Hackney feels topwater baits are so good. "This time of year, a lot of the shad will start spawning," he said. "It's generally right after the bass spawn, and that's also when the bluegill usually start getting on their beds. So for both deals, a topwater bait is hard to beat. I'll fish the Sexy Dawg and KVD Popper and just run bream beds, and you can catch some big bass fish doing it every May."
Hackney also threw a frog into the mix as a top May lure. "Anytime you are fishing a lake where the bass are shallow, the frog is going to be a big deal," he said. "It's great for that whole spring period where some bass are still bedding, and some are done, but guarding fry."
Frogs are a great way to imitate a frog, but Hackney said they are also great for matching bluegill or even a shad. Just adjust your colors to match the forage you are trying to mimic.
A swimbait like a Strike King Rage Swimmer is one of Hackney's top lures, and he primarily uses it for fishing around bass that are feeding on spawning shad.
"If you get a shad-colored swimbait and rig one of those on an underspin, you will perfectly imitate a shad with that flash from the blade," he said. "It's a deadly way to catch them on a shad spawn bite."
The vibrating jig, whether a Z-Man ChatterBait or Strike King Thunder Cricket that Hackney prefers, has proven to be one of the most productive lures you can use throughout the year, and May is no different.
"These baits are so good around the shad spawn, and May is a time when you start to see bass focusing on shad as their primary forage," he said. "I'll use that, but mix in a spinnerbait or swim jig to imitate shad."
Hackney says that knowing what the bass are eating is another key to fishing this month. "I'll adjust my colors based on what they are after, white shades to imitate shad and green pumpkin colors when they are keyed in on bluegill."
It's hard to beat a wacky-rigged soft stickbait during the spring months, and Hackney will always have a Strike King Ocho ready to go.
"It's such a versatile rig because you can do so much with it," he said. "It's great for skipping boat docks, but it's also good for sight casting to cruising fish you see up shallow. It also does well if you are fishing it around bluegill beds, and I'll also use it as a follow-up bait if one comes up and misses my topwater bait. So there are many places where the Ocho will catch them."
May is an excellent month for fishing, and there are likely many things happening where you are fishing. However, not all bass are doing the same thing, and having an open mind and using proven lures will ensure you are ready for some excellent springtime fishing.