Lake Fork Fishing For Bigger Bass
After a prolonged stretch of really good fishing on Lake Fork, things slowed down recently, particularly for bigger fish. Despite an overnight 2' rise in the water after flooding rains, we could still catch good numbers of buck bass to 5 lbs. However, the bite for the females went away for me. I'm guessing that we're in between waves of spawners but that shouldn't last for long. With the full moon this weekend, the final major wave of big fish should move up to spawn in main lake pockets and flats.
Deep water structure fishing will begin soon and the topwater bite is just getting started, offering superb fishing well into the heat of the summer. As those females feed up after the spawn, the result is our most consistent fishing of the year for numbers of quality fish in the 3 to 7 lb range, with a shot at a 10+. And although the bass are wrapping up their spawn, the shad and bluegill are just cranking up. To learn my tips on how to capitalize on these other spawns, check out my May article, "The Other Spawns": http://www.lakeforkguidetrips.com/fishingarticles/may2009.htm
Lake Conditions: Flooding rains hit this weekend and Fork crested at 2' over full pool. The lake level is currently reading at 403.67' (about 8" above full pool) and dropping fast. By lowering the lake quickly, the resultant current drew a lot of muddy and stained water into normally clearer areas. There remains plenty of clear areas though, especially near the main lake and on the south end. Milfoil and hydrilla are both growing rapidly and expanding coverage, plus the lily pads are starting to burgeon as well. Water temps are at a comfortable 68 to 72 degrees in most areas of the main lake.
Location Pattern: I'm finding most of the bigger spawning fish nearer the mouths of coves and on main lake flats in 8' and less. While some bass are spawning in the newly flooded grass and cattails, many are spawning or staging along the inside grassline in about 3'. In addition, many bass are also holding amongst the rapidly growing lily pads. The slightly deeper structure like points, creek channels, and ledges in 8' to 14', adjacent to areas with numbers of shallow spawning bass, is where we've found most of the bigger females, both prespawn and postspawn.
Presentation Pattern: Topwaters, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, swimbaits, and crankbaits in shad and bluegill colors are catching fish early and all day on windy or cloudy days. Fork is famous for its topwater fishing this time of year and bass will come up all day for small poppers (like Yellow Magics or Pop-Rs). I'm throwing small poppers with 15 lb PowerSilk, about the equivalent of 10 lb mono. The floating, zero memory line lets me whip out casts even in windy conditions with these light baits. Because of its zero memory, both PowerSilk and Fluorohybrid are great on spinning reels as well. Vary your popper retrieve because some days they'll want a nonstop spit, while other days a couple pops with long pauses works better.
For bass that are on spawning flats, we've been able to catch steady numbers of fish on weightless or wacky rigged soft plastics. The Lake Fork Trophy Lures Zig Zag, rigged with a weedless wacky hook and a small nail weight in the nose, has been killer most days. When it gets tough and the bite is slow, downsize and go with a 3.5" Live Magic Shad on a 3/0 Ultimate Swimbait Hook or wacky rig a Hyper Finesse Worm and you'll still be able to catch good numbers of fish, although the fish size will run a bit smaller on average. Shades of green pumpkin typically work better on cloudy days, while I normally switch to the watermelon colors if the sun comes out. I normally fish these rigs on low stretch 17, 21 or 28 lb PowerSilk line (use lighter line in calmer, clearer water with less cover), but I've been experimenting with a new prototype line lately called Fluorohybrid Extreme. This line has all of the best properties of the standard Fluorohybrid line—low memory, high abrasion resistance, and small diameter—plus it has much lower stretch so it delivers a lot more feel. This line will be ideal for techniques that require a lot of sensitivity, like worms, jigs, and dropshots. Look for it to be available in a few weeks. For bigger fish, casting a jig to the inside and outside grasslines has been our most productive bait. You'll get less bites than with soft plastics, but they are almost all good ones. I've been using Mark Pack's new jig design in the 3/8 and ½ oz sizes in black/blue and several shades of green. It has an awesome hook, the first thing I look for in a good jig, and great looking skirts. Look for the new jig to be available in a few weeks as well. Simply pitch it to the edge of the grass and work it with slow hops and pay close attention, as bites are often very subtle.
For spawning bass, white or watermelon Baby Fork Craws, Flippers and Craw Tubes work great. White baits allow you to clearly see your bait on the bed, while more natural shades of green are often needed to catch the more finicky bass. Many spawning areas have water that is too muddy to see bedding fish, so pitching Texas rigs and weightless soft plastics to any wood cover and holes in the grass will catch the spawners that you can't see. In addition, a Carolina rig on 21 lb PowerSilk with a 12" leader and a 3/16 to 5/16 oz weight is deadly when worked in 3' to 8' for beds that are too deep to see and for females waiting to move up. Rig it up on a MH power extra fast tipped 7'3" Dobyns 735C and you'll be all set. I put a Top Dog lizard, Magic Shad, or Zig Zag on the hook and it consistently catches big fish. Work your bait very slowly and keep it in place on the bottom for a long time or you'll pass up all but the most aggressive fish.
Here's hoping you catch the lunker of your dreams. If I can be of assistance, please contact me at 214-683-9572 (days) or 972-635-6027 (evenings) or e-mail me through http://www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com , where your satisfaction is guaranteed.
Patrick with an 8 lb 8 oz Lake Fork Trophy Lures Jig & Craw combo lunker:
About The Author: Captain Tom Redington
Company: Lake Fork Bass Guide Service
Area Reporting: Lake Fork Texas
Bio: My mission is to help you learn the skills to catch lots of big fish on Lake Fork—skills that will also help you catch more and bigger fish on your home lake and any other lakes you fish. In addition, I will focus my efforts on your goals for our trip—whether you want to learn a new technique, find fish for an upcoming tournament, learn the current patterns for a week’s visit to Fork, or just have an enjoyable day with friends, family or a client.