Larto Lake, located south of Vidalia in Catahoula Parish, is an old Mississippi oxbow lake. I like to fish here because I can stay at the Honey Brake Lodge near Jonesville, one of the best duck-hunting spots in the nation. At this lake, you can combine a duck-hunting trip with a great bass or crappie-fishing trip in the winter.

This big, cypress-tree oxbow lake is typical for this region, where you'll find similar oxbow lakes outside the levee, like Lake St. John, Lake Concordia and Lake Providence.

May is a great time to fish these lakes because the bass start bunching up on the cypress trees this month, and they're hungry. Normally by the end of the month, you'll still have some male bass guarding fry, but the female bass have finished spawning and are feeding heavily to build up the weight they've lost during the spawn.

The water's still relatively cool, so the bass will be extremely active, and can be caught with actively moving baits. The topwater bite early is usually best, but you may be able to cast topwater lures all day, if you get cloud cover or rain.

Buzz baits at Larto

I prefer to fish a buzz bait at this time of year. I like to reach my fishing spot before the sun rises. I'll start with a black, 3/8-ounce Strike King Tour Grade buzz bait with either a silver or a gold blade early in the morning. I'll be fishing in shallow water inside and behind the cypress trees, behind the buck brush and up against the bank. The black buzz bait is easier for the bass to see early in the morning. As long as I can get a bite on the black buzz bait every 15 to 20 minutes, I'll keep fishing it. I won't lay down the buzz bait until the bass stop biting it. I might fish it all day some days in May.

You can fish the buzz bait with braided line, but because I'm fishing the same rod and reel I use for spinnerbait fishing, I'll be using 25-pound-test fluorocarbon line. I'll fish the buzz bait and the spinnerbait on a 6-foot, 10-inch Quantum Tour KVD rod and keep fluorocarbon line on the reel. I use a 6.3:1 gear-ratio Quantum Smoke PT reel.

Rage Toad for May bass fishing

My second bait of choice will be the Strike King Rage Toad, a hollow-body frog with rubber legs that floats and catches big bass. I can cast this lure anywhere I want and entice big bass to eat it. Many times during this month, the bass will be suspended. I'll twitch the frog really slowly to irritate the bigger bass because they don't like a frog over their heads or even close to them.

When I'm fishing the buzz bait, I may catch a 12-inch or a 12-pound bass. But when I'm fishing the Toad, I primarily catch larger-sized bass. I like a black-neon Toad early in the morning, and later in the day I prefer a frog-colored frog with a green-pumpkin back and a pearl belly.

I'll be fishing the Rage Toad on 65-pound-test braided line only. I set the hook hard on the bass when they take the Toad because I assume it's a big bass on the line. Because I'm fishing the Rage Toad in open water for suspended bass, instead of waiting until I feel the bass on the line, I usually set the hook as soon as the bait disappears off the surface of the water.

The bass that take the Toad aren't coming through any type of cover to eat that bait. They have a clean shot at the bait, so you can set the hook more quickly on these bass than if you're fishing the Toad over grass mats or lily pads. Sometimes you can watch the bass swim up to the Toad, open its mouth and inhale it. Many times you'll see an explosion on the water. Although I'm target fishing around buck brush, laydowns and cypress trees, the bass strike usually comes in open water after the Toad moves away from the cover.

Hack Attack Jig

My third choice will be a sexy-craw Hack Attack Jig with a double-header-red Rage Tail Craw as a trailer. I'll be flipping the jig to the cypress trees and using the jig to feel for the root systems around the trees. May is a great month to find large groups of 3- to 5-pound bass at Larto. For some reason, the female bass like to bunch up at this time of year.

If you're fishing large river systems, like the Tennessee River, in May, the bass move out and group up on river ledges. However, when you're fishing oxbow lakes, like Larto Lake, this month, there aren't any major river ledges where the bass can hold, so they tend to group up around cypress trees. You may have to fish 100 cypress trees to find a large group of bass, but once you locate the right group of trees, you may catch a nice-sized bass off each tree. I'm not surprised if I catch 20 bass this month with several of them weighing more than 5 pounds.

Besides all the bass there, I like to fish Larto because of its scenic beauty. It's one of the most-picturesque fishing and recreational lakes in the state. Also, the crappie fishing in this lake is amazing. You can bass fish in the mornings and crappie fish in the afternoons.

This month at Larto Lake, I'll bring home a limit of bass and a limit of sac-a-lait for a Friday night fish fry. I don't believe bass or crappie are sacred. They're both good to eat, and I like to eat them. So if I want to have a good time and catch a bunch of fish, Larto Lake is my pick for May.