Lake Fork Report and Pics—July 20, 2012
I've been fishing Lake Fork most days since the 4th of July holiday and the deep structure summertime bite is very good on Lake Fork. Summertime is pretty consistent and you can expect both numbers and size this time of year. Tuesday was our slowest day in the past few weeks, so we stuck around a few minutes after quitting time to get to an even 20 fish in the boat. Most days the numbers have been considerably better and our best 5 is reliably running from 27 to 34 pounds. 2.5 to 6 pound fish have made up the bulk of our catch, with some big fish mixed in. Yesterday I fished with Todd and Brad from AR and we put 39 in the boat with our best 5 weighing 32 lbs and Todd setting his new personal best with an 8-05. It was a fun day, but we had to work for the fish and it honestly felt like a grind versus last week when the bass were a lot more aggressive with all of the storms passing through. Apparently the writers of "Bassmaster", who ranked Fork as the 27th best bass lake in the country, (behind lunker factories like Candlewood Lake in CT and Lake Winnebago in WI) need to come down and do a little more research.
Even on a lake like Fork that is full of big fish, the fishing isn't easy though unless you hit a spot during a feeding period. Outside of those short bursts, you have to trust your electronics and meticulously fish spots and grind them out. Keep your bait in front of the fish and you'll catch one periodically and be in position to light them up when they get active. The DownScan and Structure Scan from Lowrance allows you to see everything swimming on deep structure spots and once you locate the bass, it is just a matter of time until you make some of them eat.
There aren't a whole lot of changes to my report from June. It's a pretty basic arsenal for summertime structure fishing. Again, the key is using your graph to stay on the fish more so than a hot lure. Many baits will work in the right place, while none will work if there aren't any fish around.
As a side note, my July article covers my recommendations for the best knots for a variety of applications with today's high tech fishing lines: http://lakeforkguidetrips.com/fishingarticles/July2012.htm
Lake Conditions: Fork is down a bit this summer, but not much more than normal for the middle of summer and some recent rains have kept it in good shape. The lake level is currently 400.50' (2.5' below full pool). Water temps in the main lake are reading 85-89, with creeks running warmer. The main lake is the normal greenish stain of Lake Fork, although creeks are more brownish than normal because of the limited grass. I'm seeing the thermocline showing up around 28' on my graph most days.
Location Pattern: Early and late and when it is cloudy/windy/rainy, you can still find bass feeding on points and flats near or in the main lake. Many creeks have flooded shoreline vegetation and you'll find bass holding here too. Some big bass are still shallow but you can find schools of big fish offshore, so I spend most of my time off the banks on structure. Deep structure like points, humps, creek bends, and roadbeds in 12' to 20' are best on the cloudy days, while I look more in 20' to about 32' on brighter and calmer days. Bass suspend over many deep structure spots, but finding places where they are on the bottom usually results in better catches. Most of these schools are relating to a few pieces of isolated cover, so watch your depth finder closely or you'll bypass the mother lode.
Presentation Pattern: Topwaters like Lucky Craft G Splashes, Sammys, and Gunfish are still getting some active fish early and late, as well as schooling fish when they come up during the day. Shad or chrome colors work best. TX rigged Fork Worms will catch a few more in these places once the bass stop hitting the surface in the mornings.
On offshore structure like humps and points, deep diving cranks and Fork Flutter Spoons will catch suspended fish while Carolina and TX rigs will get the bottom dwellers. The key is to first locate fish on your graph, then let their position dictate your lure selection. Lots of bass suspend during the summer and super deep cranks like Lucky Craft's Flat CB D20 are very effective, with Sexy Chartreuse Shad and Chartreuse Light Blue being my favorite colors. Fork Flutter Spoons will trigger a lot of these same fish too as they slowly wobble down through the schools like a dying shad. Try both aggressive rips and small hops with the spoon to determine the mood of the bass. A 7'8" Dobyns Extreme DX784C rod with 20 lb FluoroHybrid Pro line handles the heavy spoons very well and keeps those leaping lunkers hooked up.
When bass group up on the bottom, they are easier to catch. Carolina and Texas rigs are my first choice. I'll try a variety of baits on both rigs and let the bass tell me how much or how little action they want. Hyper Worms, Fork Worms, Fork Creatures, Hyper Lizards, & Hyper Freaks have a lot of action and trigger big aggressive fish. If the bass are more finicky, straight tail baits like Hyper Finesse Worms, Hyper Sticks, and Twitch Worms are normally more productive. The most productive bait seems to change daily, so experiment until you find what they want. Many of the bites are light, so a super sensitive Dobyns Extreme DX744C handles the regular rigs, while the 7'4" Mag Heavy DX745C handles big worms and football jigs better. If the bass won't respond to those offerings, switch to a Hyper Finesse Worm on a drop shot with 12 lb fluoro and a Dobyns Extreme DX702SF spinning rod and you can still catch them, although the average bass size will run a bit smaller. In the darker water, June bug, plum and red bug have been good, while the various shades of watermelon and green pumpkin have worked best in the clearer water.
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. If you're in the Lake Fork area and need any boat service or want to check out the new line of Ranger boats, stop by www.DiamondSportsMarine.com on Hwy 154 on the East side of Fork, Ranger Boat's #1 dealer for 2011.
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.