By Terry Scroggins

 

This is an interesting time of year because we’re in a transitional period, with some of the bass wrapping up the postspawn period and the rest already moving to offshore summer spots. The key to staying productive is looking for what I call the high-percentage areas.

In late May, the shad spawn is the first thing I think about. Nature has it timed out pretty well with these baitfish spawning right after the bass spawn. This creates an easy food source for those postspawn bass that are looking to feed up before moving offshore.

The shad spawn is an early-morning, low-light deal that only lasts for two to three hours, so you gotta get on it right at daybreak. The key is to get around hard structure like riprap, boat docks, sea walls – they’ll even spawn on hydrilla.

You have a lot of lure choices when fishing during the shad spawn. I like to throw a ½-ounce white or chartreuse Booyah spinnerbait with double willowleaf blades because the shad will actually give away their location by following the spinnerbait and nip at the blades. They’re attracted to the shine on the blades and they snap at it so much that sometimes you can actually feel them, or at least feel the blade stop spinning for a minute. When that happens you know you’re in the right area.
big show
After about 10 a.m., however, the shad spawn is over for the day unless you have cloudy conditions. That’s when I’m going to abandon the shallows and look offshore.

By now there are at least some bass on offshore structure pretty much everywhere in the country. You might also find them somewhere between the shallow water and the offshore structure – maybe on secondary points. Generally speaking, when the fish move offshore they get to the deepest point that they’re going to hold all summer. After several weeks they pull up a little shallower, but that first move is always the deepest.

When I look for fish offshore, I like those sudden drops that may be 12 feet on the top falling quickly to 15. I like these really drastic changes, at the ends of the ledges, turns and corners and anything that has hard structure on it. Rocks, shell, logs – any irregularities on the ledge will attract fish.

When you’re fishing these ledges, you’re going to catch your biggest fish cranking with something like a Bomber Fat Free Shad (BD7). You want a bait that runs deep enough to stay in contact with the bottom pretty much the entire time.

Whatever the target is down there, you want to smash that crankbait into it – that’s what makes them react to it.

When fish are in a feeding mood, that crankbait is one of the best baits you can throw at them, but once they slow down on that bait, follow up with a ½- to ¾-ounce Booyah Pigskin football jig with a YUM Craw Papi or a Texas-rigged 10-inch YUM Ribbontail worm. Those are both good choices because they’re both big-fish baits.

Now, if the bite gets tough, you can also drop down to a lighter presentation with a YUM Sharpshooter worm on a dropshot to generate bites. This will get you a lot of bites, but it’s not going to get you the bigger fish that the crankbait, the football head and the big worm will. You can still catch big fish on a dropshot, but it’s more of a numbers bait.

With any of these plastics, I keep my colors simple: If the water is clear and you can see 2 feet or more, I like brown and green pumpkin; if the water clarity is dark – 1-1/2-foot of visibility – I go with black and blue.

This is one of my favorite times to fish, mostly because I can go out there and catch ‘em the way I want, and I can catch plenty of them, too. Get on a good shad-spawn bite or hit it when they’ve just set up on the ledges en masse, and you can whack a bunch.