You get an idea of what a huge, sprawling impoundment Toledo Bend is when you consider that, for the most part, the spawn is a done deal on much of the lake shared by Louisiana and Texas.
But in May, don’t be surprised to see some bass beds on the extreme lower end, down by the dam, because traditionally that is the last area for bass to move up and do their thing.
The critical factor each year is water temperature, and it warms from the upper-half south during February, March and April.
The deep, clear water in the dam vicinity usually is the last to heat up to ideal spawning temperatures. It seems to always be a late spawn down there and, if you’re looking for a trophy-sized bass in May, you should target those creeks and coves in that area. Remember, the spawn doesn’t just happen and quit.
In early April, we were dealing with a high water period from some torrential rains last month.
Toledo Bend jumped to above 173 feet recently before the Sabine River Authority cracked all 11 gates at 5 feet. As of this writing, with 11 open at 2 feet, the pool level is 172.5.
To say it’s a full pool is an understatement.
I’ve been fishing flats near deep water. Bass have been getting their chops busted in the flooded bushes, but I’ve stayed away from the lines of boats and have been doing fair to good “offshore” on Carolina-rigged Flukes.
On the last day of March I took a couple involved in a family tournament, and they caught slightly more than two dozen keepers up to 5 pounds, including a couple of 4s and heavy 3s, and a lot of solid 2s. It was windy as all get out, but I’ve got to give credit to my new Minn Kota Ultrex because it kept me anchored to my spot.
Another wave of spawners moved up and in with the March full moon. Many bass also followed the shad to the shallows as the shad spawn turned on. While the shad spawn lessens over the weeks, I’ve seen it last all the way to June, so keep that in mind. Always look for signs of those shad.
And just as many bass will head for the shallows and underwater vegetation, the bream move in to spawn in April and May. And just like bass, they start in the upper-lake, then the central part of the lake and finally the lower part. This month should be a primetime, so break out the topwaters.
I can’t wait. The bream factor, above and beyond the shad, is going to be the next deal after the shad spawn. It’ll be high time to cast plastic frogs — I love my watermelon/red/pearl Ribbits — Zara Spooks and Chug Bugs. Shad-colored patterns will be effective.
While there might be some postspawn blues at times up and down the lake, May’s going to be a fun month overall to fish because bass will be chasing baitfish, mainly bream, from the bank to 7-foot depths.
May definitely will be the beginning of the topwater time of year. If there’s any grass or milfoil, that’s the place to fish primarily with those and other artificial lures, including C-Rigs with a green pumpkin, watermelon red or june bug Fluke, ½-ounce gold or shad-colored Chatterbaits and red Rat-L-Traps.
May also marks the beginning of some great crappie fishing success. It has been fair to good, but will be consistently good as the panfish move into the brushpiles, mostly in 25-foot depths, around the lake. They pile into those sunken structures by the gazillions and can’t pass up a minnow dropped down to them. They’re actually catching on brushpiles now.