Lake Fork Report
December 20, 2008
Lake Fork - Freshwater Fishing Report
Happy Holidays to everyone. Thanks to all of my friends, family, and customers for a fabulous 2008 and I hope everyone has a year of great catches in 2009. After a couple of wonderful fishing trips to Mexico, I'm gearing up for another season on Lake Fork and for the start of the FLW Tour season too. Heading into the New Year, the early stages of prespawn are starting in some areas of the lake. Meanwhile, lunker bass continue to be caught from deep water as well. With big prespawn bass smoking jigs, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and lipless crankbaits now through March, this is my favorite time of the year on Fork. 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. Best of all, you'll have the lake mostly to yourself, especially on the cold and nasty days when the lunkers bite the best!
As a side note, my new November article on alternative rigs for the Live Magic Shad is now on my website: www.lakeforkguidetrips.com/fishingarticles/december2008.htm .
Lake Conditions: Heading into the prespawn, Fork is in great shape. The lake level is currently reading 402.22' (about 9" below full pool). Most of the lake is clear, with some stained water on the north ends. Thanks to mostly stable water levels this year, copious amounts of hydrilla, milfoil and coontail are growing in the lake, making for awesome shallow water fishing all spring. Water temps are dropping with the parade of cold fronts, reading in the low 50s in the main lake. We caught a number of big bass in much colder than normal conditions last spring, with water temps as low as 38, so don't let the temps discourage you from going.
Location Pattern: Many big bass are schooled up in deep water right now and it's a great time for spoon 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.
Keep in mind, too, 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.
For deep structure enthusiasts, points, roadbeds, humps, flats and ledges in 18' to 45' will produce some big fish during the winter months as well. Use your electronics to find the schools of bass and baitfish and work them over with spoons and dropshots. I'm primarily concentrating on the shallow bass, so my presentation pattern will focus on that.
Presentation Pattern: My wintertime arsenal is pretty simple for fishing along grasslines and creek channels. First and foremost are lipless crankbaits in ½ or ¾ oz. Stick with the ½ for grass that is near the surface and go with the ¾ for grass that is deeper. 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 trap fall and ripping these out of the grass will trigger most of the bites. ¼ to ½ oz spinnerbaits with double willow blades in white, red, or chartreuse and white 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" Lake Fork Live Magic Shad on the back of a ½ oz chatterbait and fish it in the same areas you'd throw a spinnerbait. 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. Jerkbaits in gold or clown patterns are my primary colors. Work these with long pauses over the grass and along the edges. For jigs, I go with ½ oz black and blue Mega Weight jigs with a Lake Fork Craw trailer in the blue bruiser color. For the Texas rig, I'll pitch a Lake Fork Flipper or the new Hyper Freak in black neon or blue bruiser with a ¼ to 3/8 oz bullet 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 (days) or 972-635-6027 (evenings) or e-mail me through www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com , where your satisfaction is guaranteed.
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