Be flexible for Lake Murray bass in May

Gettys Brannon said fishermen need to be able to fish multiple lures on Lake Murray in May. (Photo by Brian Cope)

Change lures often when conditions dictate

Throughout May, South Carolina’s Lake Murray is a hotspot for largemouth bass, especially on days with at least a slight wind. Anglers who like using multiple lures and techniques will love fishing this month. Largemouth change patterns throughout the day, giving anglers a chance to catch them using different tactics.

Gettys Brannon of Columbia, a former FLW College Fishing national champion — he won on Lake Murray in 2015 — loves the variety May brings to Lake Murray.

“A typical day of fishing in May is hard to define,” Brannon said. “But one thing is for sure: you want to come prepared for anything. You need to have a number of different lures tied on to different rods and have them on the deck. Swimbaits, jigs and everything in between can catch bass right now, depending on where the fish are, the time of day, and the wind direction.”

Early in the morning, Brannon said small coves are good starting points. If a little wind is pushing into the coves, baitfish will congregate along the shoreline’s banks and seawalls, becoming easy pickings for bass. Topwater lures and jerkbaits are good choices. If no wind is present, skipping jigs under docks in the same coves will produce bass.

Those docks come into play again as the sun gets up, warming the water’s surface and pushing bass into the shadows for shade and to ambush prey. Sticking with jigs is a good strategy. Once the day really heats up, Brannon said the bass will head to deep, open water. That’s when he turns to Carolina rigs, working slopes and drop-offs. 

Stay flexible and you can catch Lake Murray bass all day this month

Brannon said anglers need to keep two things in mind. First, you’ll have to “weed through” stripers, especially early in the morning. It’s a fun problem to have. Anglers may catch a dozen stripers before landing a largemouth. Second, you’ll encounter your share of short-strikers and lure-followers.

“Sometimes, you’ll feel your lure getting swiped at numerous times without hooking up,” Brannon said. “Some anglers think these are white perch. But it’s just as often a short-striking bass that isn’t willing to fully commit. This is when it’s handy to have other lures ready to cast. They’ll often bite a new lure aggressively when it’s presented quickly.”

The lure followers — bass that will follow your lure throughout the entire retrieve but never bite it — can be caught the same way.

“If you see a bass do that, you can catch it, but not with the lure it just followed. Cast something different to it immediately, and you’ve got a good chance of hooking up. If it simply follows that one too, try another,” he said.

As long as anglers don’t get in a rut with one lure or technique, they can catch bass on Lake Murray all day long this time of year, Brannon said.

About Brian Cope 2354 Articles
Brian Cope is the editor of Carolina Sportsman. He has won numerous awards for his writing, photography, and videography. He is a retired Air Force combat communications technician, and has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of South Carolina. You can reach him at

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