May Day Plan For Seminole Bass
Fishing for big bass has been better this year than in any of the past three years, says Jackie Alderman of the Bainbridge Bass Club. Here's how he catches them in May.
Jackie Alderman and I had been fishing on Lake Seminole for all of about two minutes when the first fish hit. We had pulled up to a sandbar in five or six feet of water within sight of the Jim Woodruff Dam and had begun to throw a Carolina-rigged Junebug lizard. On his second cast, Jackie set the hook on a stout 3-lb. largemouth as the lizard dragged through a patch of submerged hydrilla. The fish hadn’t really hit the worm, but Jackie’s line had just loaded up with the weight of the fish.
“We just may do okay today,” he said as he unhooked the fish.
I was on Lake Seminole on Wednesday, April 16 for a preview of the topwater bass fishing in May. Jackie, who is the vice-president of the 36-member Bainbridge Bass Club, had agreed to take me out for a firsthand look.
“We are going to catch bass,” he had said when I met him in Bainbridge. But the three pounder wasn’t what he had in mind.
Bass fishing for big fish has been better this spring than in any of the past three years, according to Jackie. “Last year I didn’t catch a fish over three pounds from Seminole all year,” he said. “This year, in the past six trips I’ve caught one six pounds or better.”
On the previous Saturday Jackie fished with his 14-year-old son Stephen and they placed fifth in the Faceville Volunteer Fire Department bass tournament with six fish that weighed 15.70 pounds. They caught their fish in the same area we were fishing and in the same way Jackie expects to continue to catch fish throughout May – jerk baits early in the morning and Carolina-rigged lizards once the sun comes up. During the bass tournament the father-and-son team caught four fish on shallow banks on jerk baits and then culled from five or six bass caught on Carolina rigs on the same sandbar we were fishing.
“Seminole isn’t like it was back in the early ’90s but it’s been better this year,” said Jackie as we continued to cast lizards to dark patches of weeds we could see lining the sandbar.
A half hour after boating the three pounder Jackie’s line again loaded up as the lizard dragged through a weed bed and he set the hook.
“Let me tell you that’s a good fish,” he said as his rod bowed over. “I’ll never get this one to the boat. He didn’t hit it hard either, I just felt a tug. Lordy! Look at that fish.”
The big bass had come up and was wallowing on the surface, mouth open, trying to sling the hook. The hook held, however, and in a minute Jackie was able to reach in and lip the bass into the boat. The big-bellied largemouth pulled the De-Liar scales firmly down to eight pounds even. Jackie had caught two bass that weighed a total of 11 pounds in the first 30 minutes.
“Can you come down here for my next tournament?” he asked.
Five minutes later I was sitting taking notes when Jackie set the hook on another bass – this time a 2 1/2 pounder.
“You have got to come to my next tournament,” he said. “Last year those three fish would have won most tournaments on the lake. But this year it’s taken 20 pounds and up to win. It seems to be getting better. The flood in ’94 rearranged the grassbeds and sandbars and changed the fishing. Last year you could go to places where you used to catch fish before the flood and they wouldn’t be there. This year they are beginning to come back to the old areas.”
The pattern Jackie and I were fishing actually begins in April and lasts only until the end of May when the hydrilla will mat the surface and seal off the area we were fishing.
“This is one of the last areas on the lake where the fish spawn,” said Jackie as he sat down to re-tie after the third bass. “Starting in April the bass will be out on these sandy patches spawning. That eight-pounder looks like it still has eggs. This year the weather has been so rough that this part of the lake, which is exposed to the wind coming down the open water up the Chattahoochee River arm, hasn’t seen a lot of fishing pressure. In fact, there hasn’t been a lot of fishing pressure on the lake this year and that may be helping the fishing. It used to be that the boat ramp parking lots were all filled this time of year, but they aren’t any more.”
For the topwater bite in May, the first lure Jackie will have tied on is a chrome and silver Rattlin’ Rogue. Early in the morning as he works the bank he brings the jerk bait back over any submerged grass or stump he can find. “Because of all the shoreline grass, the area around the dam is one of the few areas on Seminole where you can work the bank,” he said.
His second rod for topwater fishing would likely have a Slug-Go or Super Fluke or similar bait slipped on a 4/0 long-shank Eagle Claw hook. Jackie doesn’t use a swivel on the floating worms. “The swivel makes it sink too fast,” he said.
On a cloudy day the fish may stay on the banks all day, but usually when the sun hits the water the jerk bait fishing is over and Jackie moves out to drag lizards through the still-submerged grass patches on the sandbars.
“These sandbars come up to about three feet deep and they drop into six or eight feet of water. I think they are better than some others because we aren’t too far from the river channel.”
While we fished near the dam, Jackie said that there are similar sandbars around the island out from Fairchild Landing, in front of Sealy Landing, and in Spring Creek between the creek and the Flint River. We didn’t have any trouble finding the submerged sand, the pale strips of sand showed up well in the darker green weeds below the surface.
“This kind of fishing will end by June, depending on how fast the hydrilla comes up on the surface,” he said.
Once the grass mats up, the fishing turns to the summertime Seminole pattern of working the edges of the walls of grass.
In the meantime, Jackie will be working two lures: a Rattlin’ Rogue followed by a Carolina-rigged Zoom junebug lizard.
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