Don’t abandon the shallows just yet at Toledo Bend

John Dean III caught this 3-pound bass on a Neko-rigged Senko recently while fishing at Toledo Bend with his father, John Dean.

One of the biggest misconceptions of late spring on Toledo Bend is that because the bass might have spawned over half or more of the lake, it’s time to avoid the shallows where those fish were spawning.

That’s not correct.

From my experience and that of so many others here for several decades, it’s time to work those shallows even harder in May. Sure, bass may have just left their spawning areas, but guess what? Bream are moving into those same shallows to spawn as the water warms even more. And bass follow them to eat considering the rigors of their own spawn.

You know what that means? It’s plastic frog and topwater time! It’s hard to beat those artificial lures when the bream are on their beds and the bass are right on their heels.

Many spawners still will provide plenty of highlights for bass anglers in the lower end of the lake, say from the Indian Mounds area to the dam. It’s a safe assumption all the bass down there haven’t hit the beds yet. Bass on that end historically spawn later than those in the upper part of the lake because the deep, clear waters down there that are the last to heat up.

It’s still spring

Many people have the mindset that spring and spring patterns are over in May. I still say Carolina-rigged soft plastics and Neko-rigged soft plastics, as well as Flukes, finesse worms, trick worms and wacky worms, will trigger a majority of the bites this month. And, of course, it’s big time frog time and I always reach for a Stanley Top Toad.

And there’s something else. There’s another soft plastic that quietly is making more of a splash — caused by a fighting bass, big or small. It produced a 4-pound class bass and others the last week of March in my Skeeter.

I channeled my inner Guido Hibdon and his close friend Shaw Grigsby and broke out a tube jig. It was one of many I still have from my days on pro bass tournament trails. Hibdon, who died in March 2018, and Grigsby were tube jig masters and I learned a lot when paired once with the latter for a tournament in Florida.

Grigsby won tournaments on a tube jig with a special secret he kept to himself. He shared the reason he didn’t get snagged with a tube jig was because of a special hook, an Eagle Claw Shaw Grigsby HP Hook. It alllowed him to make the tube jig weedless by skin hooking it thanks to a tiny stainless steel wire on the eyelet that clamps on the tube jig. If you find you have fewer hookups than you should with that hook, switch the tiny wire clamp to your favorite EWG.

Tubes are deadly

As they proved countless times, tube jigs are deadly on bedding bass. I played with it recently and it conjured up good memories as well as bass.

The Toledo Bend level has remained low. At the beginning of last month, it was still around 170.50. Average water temperatures finally are on the rise with warmer nights to go along with some extra warm days.

As I wrote earlier, this is a time to stay shallow because of the bream spawn. I’ll do some of that, sure, but I’ll try to get away from the crowd and fish Carolina-rigged soft plastics around ridges and humps just offshore in the main lake. There are plenty of them outside major creeks.

I believe 90 percent of the bass caught in my boat this month will be on C-rigs, followed by Neko-rigged soft plastics and Stanley Top Toads.

Bladed jigs such as Delta Lures Thunder Jigs, plus Rat-L-Traps, will catch their share of bass in May. Traps aren’t done by any means.

I’ve been guiding on this lake most of my life and you’re welcome in my boat. May should offer good bass fishing. Give me a call at (936) 404-2688.

About John Dean 97 Articles
John Dean has been guiding on Toledo Bend most of his life. If you’d like to join him on a trip, give him a call at (936) 404-2688.