Lake Fork Report & Pics—January 27, 2011
I've been fishing most days for the past week and a half on Fork and the bite has been quite good for numbers and average size. Outside of a very slow day on Saturday, we've had consistent success with jigs, suspending jerkbaits and lipless crankbaits. Because of the cold couple of weeks in the middle of January, concentrations of bass have fallen back a little deeper to creek channels, ledges, and points. It takes a while to find these groups but the fishing is very good once you do. Case in point, my customer and I had 8 fish in one spot yesterday plus 6 more in another. Neither area was longer than 15 yards, nor could be get bit anywhere else in those areas. We didn't catch that many at all the spots we fished and not everywhere produced, but almost everywhere that we caught a fish, we caught at least one or two more. That's the mixed blessing of cold fronts in the spring—the fish aren't nearly as active but they are grouped up. We fished both areas for over an hour so it's not like you catch them on every cast, but once you get bit in the spring you really need to work the area over thoroughly. With temps in the 60s for the next few days, I suspect the bass will be roaming the flats a lot more again like they were earlier in the month and we'll start doing better covering water.
The only disappointing part of the fishing lately has been the absence of a great big fish. While almost all of the fish we've caught have been nice slot fish from 3 to 7 pounds, we're overdue to start catching a few big ones. I've been concentrating on patterns for prespawn staging females, so a big bass is only a cast away on Fork. The best part about the fishing has been the complete lack of fishing pressure. The most trailers we have seen at Lake Fork Marina on a weekday were 3 (counting mine) and I've only seen a couple other guides out all week. If you want to beat the spring crowds at Fork and have a shot at a true lunker bass, now is a great time to come.
If you haven't caught it yet, I'll be a frequent participant and host of "The Big Bass Battle" on Versus. The show will also run on WFN (World Fishing Network), as well as on Time Warner cable in the Dallas area. The show features 4 anglers on the same lake fishing at the same time, all trying to catch the one largest bass that day. With bragging rights on the line, guys use their very best tactics to catch them and there should be a lot of good instructional material in the show in addition to big fish catches. I've recently filmed shows at Fork along with some other lakes in TX, MS, and LA. It has been a lot of fun to film and I hope everyone enjoys watching it.
Boat for Sale: My 2010 Ranger Z521 boat is for sale. It is a demo boat through my dealer and you'd be titled as the first owner. She's value priced to save you big bucks 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. Here's a video:
Lake Conditions: Fork's water is clearing and warming after some cold rain and snow earlier this month. The lake level is currently 399.56' (about 3' 6" below full pool) and a ton of stumps are now visible. The boat lanes are still safe to run in general, but definitely exercise caution when heading out of the clear-cut areas. Water temps are slowly climbing back up with temps reading 47 to 49 yesterday in the main lake and in the upper 40s to just over 50 in the creeks. The main lake is the normal greenish clear color, except on the north ends where it is more stained. Some of the creeks are stained, but those with grass are pretty clear. Speaking of the grass, it is very spotty on the northern half of the lake but the south end still has a lot of green grass and subsequently clearer water.
Location Pattern: Many big bass are schooled up in deep water right now and it's a great time for spoon fishermen. With the colder temps, offshore structure in 23' to 36' have some very large schools this time of year, so keep searching with your graph until you find them. You can find these deep fish into early Feb each year.
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 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 hold a lot of fish this time of year, as do main and secondary points inside the coves—provided there is deep water nearby. During warming trends, follow bass back into the creeks and onto the flats. After cold fronts, they'll typically drop back just a little bit to adjacent points 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. 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. 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.
After cooling trends like we've had recently, the bite slows and 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 Gunmetal Shad & Phantom Chartreuse Shad are my new favorites. Work these with long pauses over the grass and along the edges. For jigs, I go with the 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. I'm using Dobyns brand new 7'4" Extreme model DX745C for pitching my jigs and Texas rigs. It is well balanced making it easy to pitch all day and it is ultra sensitive which is important because the jig bites in this cold water are ultra faint. Occasionally you'll feel a slight thump but most of the time the fish just pick up the jig and hold it. If you put a little pressure on them they'll drop it immediately, so you need a rod that detects even the slightest bit of pressure. The heavy power rod has plenty of muscle to horse fish out of cover when paired with Lake Fork's new fluorocarbon coated FluoroBraid. 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.