Lake Fork Report & Pic—January 23, 2009
After a brutally cold start to 2010 at Lake Fork, we've had over a week of very mild weather, including a couple nights in the 60s and some warm sunny days in the 70s. Water temps have risen steadily and there are even a few fish in the very backs of the creeks. I've fished Fork the last 6 days in a row and although it has warmed dramatically, the bass are only slowly working their way back shallow. With the warm weather continuing this week, look for them to steadily show up shallow. Last week started off well and slowed as it went on for numbers, but the size of the fish has been very good and the females are already fat with a lot of eggs.
Depending on our weather, the earliest spawners are only 20 to 45 days away, so my favorite time of year (the prespawn) is getting going. Numbers run lower this time of year; however, the average size of your catch is at its highest for the year, usually in the 3.5 to 5 lb range, with a good shot at bass 7 lbs or greater. It's also the time of year when more 10s, 11s, 12s, 13s, and bigger are caught. Best of all, you'll have the lake mostly to yourself, especially on the cold and nasty days when the lunkers bite the best!
Boat for Sale: My 2009 Ranger Z520 boat is for sale. It is fully loaded, rigged with a 250 HP Mercury Pro XS motor with a 5 year warranty (good until 2014). It's value priced and will save you about $10,000 off the cost of a new boat. For more details and pics of the boat, please check my website (www.lakeforkguidetrips.com) or drop me a note. Following are videos of the boat, taken December 9th:
Walk around video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YpAEpJ-BBbs
Inside of boat video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkfqswKLqwc
Seats video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XWtP7mKVhy0
Storage boxes video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yxZIK8oqVc
Hull video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIozkGqMjBA
Lake Conditions: The lake is full right now and a bit more stained than normal, with temps rebounding this week. The lake level is currently at 403.15' (2" above full pool). The water clarity is clear on the south end, getting more stained as you head up the lake, and even muddy in some creeks. Water temps are reading 48 to 51 in the main lake, while the backs of some creeks have been as warm as 57 the past few days.
Location Pattern: Many big bass are schooled up in deep water right now and it's still a good time for structure fishermen. If you're like me though, from late-December through much of March, I concentrate on the early prespawn and staging fish on points and along edges of flats or creek channels. Areas with submerged vegetation (primarily hydrilla, milfoil, or coontail) for cover will typically have the most active fish. While about any grassy area will hold a few fish, start your search in areas that have lots of spawning fish in late February through March. It stands to reason that the coves that hold the most spawning fish in early spring will have the most prespawn fish in the winter. Main lake grass beds near the mouths of these coves are holding fish now, as are main and secondary points inside the coves—provided there is deep water nearby. During warming trends, follow bass back into the creeks and check the edges of grass flats and creek channels.
As I say each spring, bear in mind that the absolute water temperature is not nearly as important now as the recent water temperature trend. For instance, water temps that are showing 52 degrees can result in slow fishing if the temps were 58 a couple days ago. In contrast, fishing can be great if the temps warm up to 50 while they were 44 a few days before. In general, look for bass on the flats and farther back in creeks during warming trends; conversely, drop back to points and main lake grassbeds after cold fronts. Finally, the day of and the day after cold fronts can be absolutely miserable to fish, but these frontal days after a long warming trend are usually the most productive times to fish.
Presentation Pattern: A few simple lures produce big bass each winter from grasslines and creek channels. First and foremost are lipless crankbaits in ½ or ¾ oz, like the Lucky Craft LV500 and LVR D-7. Red and crawfish colors are most popular and they often work well, although oddball colors often produce better on any given day. Buzzing these over the top of the grass on a quick retrieve is normally best, but after cold fronts, letting the bait fall and ripping these out of the grass will trigger most of the bites. Lipless cranks are notorious for losing fish, so I've gone to the 8' Dobyns 804CB cranking rod. You can whip baits a country mile and it is so well balanced that it feels like having a little 6'6" rod in your hands. The 804CB has plenty of backbone to rip baits free from grass, yet a soft tip to let the bass eat the bait deeply and to keep them on. And a long rod moves a lot of line and keeps steady pressure on fish, resulting in more landed lunkers. If you're out at the lake, run by Lake Fork Tackle's pro shop in Emory and check it out for yourself. ½ oz Redemption spinnerbaits with tandem or double willow blades with white or chartreuse and white skirts will produce some really large bass in the same areas that the lipless cranks work, especially on windy and cloudy days. For a true giant, try swimming a 4.5" Live Magic Shad on the back of a ½ oz Phenix Vibrator Jig and fish it in the same areas you'd throw a spinnerbait. With the spinnerbait, mono like 28 lb PowerSilk line works best, while 30 to 50 lb braided line works better with the lipless cranks and vibrating jigs to help rip them through the grass.
When the bite slows or the conditions are sunny and calm, I'll switch to a suspending jerkbait or pitch a jig and a Texas rig. Lucky Craft's model 100SP Pointers in gold or chrome patterns are my traditional choices, although the new Gunmetal Shad & Phantom Chartreuse Shad are my new favorites. Work these with long pauses over the grass and along the edges. A long rod with a forgiving tip helps land big fish that just slap at these baits, so I throw them on a Dobyns 705CB cranking rod. Match it with 12 to 17 lb Fluorohybrid Pro, a new line that is as clear and sensitive as fluorocarbon, yet as smooth and easy handling as mono. For jigs, I go with the new ½ oz black and blue MPack jig from Lake Fork Trophy Lures and pair it with a matching Fork Craw or Hyper Freak trailer in the blue bruiser color. For the Texas rig, I'll pitch a Lake Fork Flipper or Hyper Freak in black neon or blue bruiser with a 3/8 oz Mega Weight. Work your jig or Texas rig very slowly along creek channels or through deep grass for a great shot at a lunker.
Cover lots of water until you get bit. Once you catch one, work the area over thoroughly with multiple passes, employing several different baits. Fish tend to stack up in key staging areas during the winter and these spots will replenish themselves with more fish during the prespawn as more and more big bass move shallow. Find some good staging spots and you'll have a milk run of honey holes now through March.
Here's hoping you catch the lunker of your dreams. If I can be of assistance, please contact me at 214-683-9572 or e-mail me through http://www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com , where your satisfaction is guaranteed.
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.