Lake Russell is not noted for harboring really big largemouths and spotted bass, but May is probably the best month to catch big fish of both species that are showing up bigger and bigger each year, said guide Wendell Wilson of Elberton, Ga.

“You can expect to catch 6- and 7-pound largemouths in May, and it’s not too hard to get a spotted bass over 5 pounds in May. The lake record for spotted bass is 6 ¼ pounds, and we expect that to be topped any day now,” said Wilson, who has had largemouths up to 9 pounds and spots up to 5 ½ on guide trips.

Wilson (706-283-3336) said the annual blueback herring spawn provides the opportunity to land some of the lake’s bigger bass in May.

“The big bass are coming off the beds; they are hungry, and the herring are spawning in the early morning on shallow, flat points and around any kind of riprap or concrete structure,” he said.

Early mornings and late evenings are the top periods for targeting the feeding bass, Wilson said, but they can still be caught in the middle of the day by moving out off the points into deeper water.

“On a typical morning, you want to be there about 6 o’clock, right at daylight. If it is cloudy, the bite might last until noon. But if it is sunny and hot, the bite will be over way before then,” he said. “A big topwater lure like a Zara Spook works really well, and also a weightless Fluke. If the fish are out a little deeper, you will need to add a jighead to the Fluke.”

Wilson said he likes to work the Fluke the same way he retrieves a Zara spook.

“I like to jerk it twice, make it dart from side to side like walking the dog, then pause it and let it sink a little before moving it again,” he said. “The retrieve is jerk-jerk-pause, jerk-jerk-pause, over and over.”

Wilson said the herring spawn is concentrated in the lower end of the lake in May.

“They are mostly in the main channel and the lower reaches of Beaverdam Creek and Rocky River close to the main lake,” he said.

“The herring spawn varies from year to year, but generally it starts in the middle of April and runs through the end of May, usually ending about Memorial Day,” Wilson said. “We don’t know what it will be like this year because we’ve had such unusually warm water temperatures earlier than normal.

“The key for the herring spawn is when water temperatures range from 62 degrees to 70 degrees,” he said. “When it gets to 70 degrees, the spawn is over.”