Look for solid bites on down-rods
Fishing guide Terry Caulder of Catch 22 Striper Guide Service (803-600-8078) said May is a good month to chase stripers on Lake Murray. He said this month, he typically begins fishing with down rods.
Up until this month, Caulder has spent a lot of time pulling planer boards in open water. But the warming weather and other factors have the fish moving toward shallower water.
“I like to get on the water about 30 minutes before light, and I look for groups of fish with my electronics. Factors such as where they are located in the water column will help determine whether I want to stop and fish those spots or not,” he said.
Caulder said like most months, May is a good one for numbers of fish. He said trophy-sized fish are making a comeback, but this month, anglers will catch a lot of “teenagers,” fish that weigh between 13 and 19 pounds. And stripers this size provide plenty of drag-pulling fight.
“The best bite is typically going to take place in the first few hours of the morning. On some days here and there, it doesn’t pan out that way. But for the most part, that early morning bite is the best bite,” said Caulder.
Watch the moon
Exceptions of that rule tend to occur around the full moon.
“I absolutely pay attention to the moon phase,” he said. “The day before the full moon, and two days after the full moon are typically great days for stripers on Murray.”
During those full moon days, the bite won’t start until later in the day. That’s because the fish spend a lot of time chasing bait and eating during the night, thanks to the ample amount of light provided by the full moon. So on these days, Caulder said anglers can expect to start later, and stay on the water later into the day.
His bait of choice this month is live bait, and his preferred depths can change throughout May.
“It’s either going to be live herring or live shad,” he said. “And the depths I’m fishing are going to be determined by the water temperature. May is a big transition month for stripers here, and the first two weeks of the month are often quite a bit different, at least as far as best depths to fish, than the last two weeks.”
Caulder said if he could give anglers one piece of advice for maximizing their catch this month, it would simply be to put the time in on the water.
“You just have to go as often as you can. If you’re not catching them, stay on the move until you find fish that are in a feeding mood. It can be a humbling sport and a humbling lake. One day you might think you’ve got them figured out, then you go back the next day and do the same thing, but the fish don’t cooperate as easily. That’s just all a part of it. Keep at it, go as often as you can, and that’s really the secret to catching numbers of fish. Just put the time in,” he said.
For anglers looking for a little bit of a different experience, Caulder said fishing at night, especially during the full moon phase, can be productive.
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