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Why and How to Fish the Mayfly Hatch

provided by John E. Phillips 

Twenty-eight-year-old Jordan Lee, who now lives on Alabama’s Lewis Smith Lake, has been a professional bass fisherman for 6 years, currently ranks as the no.7 best bass fisherman in the world and won the 2014 Bassmaster College Series Championship while fishing on Auburn University’s bass fishing team. He’s won two Bassmaster Classics – 2017 and 2018 – and today fishes with Major League Fishing (MLF) having earned $1-1/2 million in tournament fishing. To learn more about Jordan Lee, visit

mayfly on the water

Another natural occurrence on many lakes in late May and early June is a mayfly hatch, especially in southern waters. Like the shad spawn, the mayfly hatch usually happens early in the morning on most rivers and lakes. It attracts bluegills, and the bluegills attract bass. Whenever I come across one of these hatches, I fish with a Berkley Bullet Pop topwater lure. More often than not, I’m able to load the boat with bass then. Anytime I see mayflies, I start looking for an area where they’re concentrated, which is usually where the hatch is taking place. When the mayflies come out of the water, the first place they try to go is to overhanging trees or lakeside bushes. After that, the bluegills will concentrate and feed on the mayflies, while the bass will begin to feed on the bluegills. 

Starting off, I’ll cast my Berkley Bullet Pop around the edges of the lakeside bushes and the overhanging trees, pop it six or seven times, reel it back in and cast it out again. Many times, the bass will be holding against the bank near an overhanging tree, so I’ll cast to the bank, work the lure away from it and fish around the overhanging tree. When I’m fishing with a popping bait, I prefer a short rod like a 6’8” Medium Action Abu Garcia Veracity Casting Rod with the popper on 20-pound-test Big Game Monofilament Fishing Line because that line floats and helps your popping bait work better. I also prefer high-speed reels like the 7.3:1 Abu Garcia Revo. 

I’ve moved from my home on Guntersville Lake to Alabama’s Lewis Smith Lake, which is a deep, clear-water lake. At the end of May, I'll be fishing numbers of topwater lures on Smith because that’s where the bass will be schooling and chasing shad. Lewis Smith Lake homes numbers of spotted bass that will move out and suspend over main lake points, looking up to feed on the shad spawn. So, those spots will attack topwater lures. I like a solid chrome topwater lure for fishing these types of lakes at this time of the year, especially if we have a sunny day. I also like the Berkley Cane Walker, which is a big, heavy topwater lure that I can cast a long way, while staying well away from the school. In clear water, having a heavy topwater lure like this one is very important. With this lure, I just about can cast all the line off my reel. I like to throw this lure on 30-pound-test braided line. I feel like I can sling that lure a mile or more. 

These are the tactics and techniques that work for me at the end of May in most places that I fish, and I believe they’ll work for you if you’ll try them.

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