Lake Murray Big Bass Tour Promises Topwater Excitement

Friday, April 19, 2019

Over the past several years, the Big Bass Tour has consistently visited South Carolina’s Lake Murray in September and October, with solid results and loads of 5- to 7-pound fish. This year we’re switching it up – heading to blueback herring country the first weekend in May, and 2018 FLW Angler of the Year Mark Rose expects the results to be even better.

Rose, now fishing the Bass Pro Tour, has experienced success casting for cash in just about every corner of the country, but visits to the Carolinas are always special, especially when bass are in transition periods around the spawning ritual.

“The spawn should be wrapping up,” he said. “Those fish want to look up. They’re feeding up in the water column. The only time they’re really on the bank is when they’re spawning or when they’re traveling in little wolf packs, so I’d look out – find any kind of little hump or point close to deep water.” There may still be some fry-guarders present, but those tend to be smaller males and he wouldn’t waste his time chasing them.

In recent years Murray has been known for its manmade offshore “cane piles,” and if Rose had time to practice he’d try to locate as many of them as possible, but those “enhanced” waypoints are not strictly necessary if the right structural elements are present.

“I would find as many of those offshore places as I could,” he explained. “You might hit fifteen places with no bites and then two in a row will have some big ones.”

His primary lure choice would be a Strike King KVD Sexy Dawg, a 4 ½ inch topwater lure, and his go-to color, particularly in the clearer water, would be “Nude.” As the name suggests, it’s a clear, unpainted topwater. If it’s exceptionally windy there, particularly in combination with overcast conditions, he’d upgrade to Strike King’s new KVD Mega Dawg, the 6-inch, 2 ounce big brother to the original. After seeing the Forrest Wood Cup won on a big pencil popper at Murray last year, he knows that the bigger fish can and will crush the larger package. The Junior version works just as well in tournament situations, but Rose said that the larger ones consistently evoke bites from bigger fish, so he’d leave the little one in the rod locker.

Rose would fish both of his preferred topwaters on his signature 7’3” Lew’s Team Custom Pro Ledge Hair Jig rod, paired with a Team Lew’s Hyper Mag Speed Spool reel (7.5:1 gear ratio). Spooled up with 15-pound test Seaguar Rippin’ Mono, that maximized his casting distance, allowing him to throw the aerodynamic lure a country mile and then “let it eat.”

If the bite got a little tough, he’d fish either a single or double soft plastic jerkbait like a Strike King Caffeine Shad or Z Too, once again working it at warp speed across those same points and humps.

Murray is a venue where we typically see a handful of 6- and 7-pounders, and it never takes less than 5 pounds to make the overall top 10. In fact, the weekend’s hourly winners typically include only a couple of fish under 5 pounds, and never less than 4. In fact, in 2015, no fish under 5 pounds won a single hour. That means that careful consideration of the Live Leaderboard is critical, because a fish that could earn top dog honors during one hour might be the sixth or seventh best the next. Five pounders are common, and that makes timing critical.