Jordan Lake largemouths are on the move in May

Jonathan Phillips said big numbers of Jordan Lake bass won’t have moved to deeper water in May, but the ones that are out, ready to hit crankbaits, will be quality fish. (Photo by Jonathan Phillips)

Lots of options for bass anglers this month

One thing is certain for bass fishermen on North Carolina’s Jordan Lake this month: they have options. Whether fishing the shad spawn, bluegill spawn, water willow grass or the first bass moving into deep water, veteran angler Jonathan Phillips of Pittsboro, N.C., is excited about a month that has so much going on. 

“You’ll have a lot of bass that are done with their spawn, but they’re still going to be hanging around the shallows,” said Phillips. “The shad spawn will be happening at night, and for the first couple hours of the morning, the shad will be up on hard places like rock and riprap, boat ramps and even clay banks. The bass feeding on them are very vulnerable to fisherman, because they’re blowing shad out of the water and making a lot of commotion. I like to swim a white jig around them on 20-pound fluorocarbon, but a brown jig can be even better, because they can key in on something different. They also react well to a double-willow spinnerbait in white or white and chartreuse.” 

Look for bluegill beds

The bluegill spawn, another key, occurs in short pockets off the main channel and main creeks.  According to Phillips, bluegill beds are best found by getting on your trolling motor and using your eyes or sight-scanning sonar to check pockets in 1 to 3 feet of water. Once located, he throws a Brian’s Prop Bee topwater bait or a Bagley Bang-O-Lure, and he’ll swim a jig around the beds. Brown or green pumpkin are good colors, anything that mimics a bluegill.

As the sun comes up in the sky, Phillips switches to the willow grass that lines many of Jordan’s creeks, especially in the river section of the lake. Here, he swims a jig, throws a buzzbait, pitches soft plastics or a floating worm. Phillips says the key is to throw to high-percentage areas of the grass such as indentions, points, and areas that have wood. 

“In mid-May, the bigger fish will start to move offshore,” Phillips said. “You won’t catch the numbers you will in June, but it’s a better quality of fish. They’ll back out to 8 to 12, sometimes 14 or 15 feet of water in the creeks and the main lake where there are hard places like rock piles or stumps, also ledges. They react well to a crankbait. I like a Rapala DT-10 or a Strike King XD.  You’re trying to mimic a threadfin, so blue and chartreuse or a citrus color is a good choice.”

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About Dusty Wilson 263 Articles
Dusty Wilson of Raleigh, N.C., is a lifelong outdoorsman. He is the manager of Tarheel Nursery in Angier and can be followed on his blog at

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