Lake Fork Report
February 3, 2009
Lake Fork - Freshwater Fishing Report
Despite a week of bitter cold temps with sleet and ice, the fishing at Lake Fork has been good on most days. More big prespawn bass are showing up in the shallows all the time and 11+ lb fish are starting to come into marinas on a more regular basis. Prespawn is my favorite time of the year on Fork because the crowds are light and you have a shot at a true lunker on any cast. You really only needed a lipless crankbait rod and a jig rod this past week, although the bass will start chasing a larger variety of baits soon as the water warms back up.
Remember, spring is the season when a great pair of polarized sunglasses makes a huge difference. Sight fishermen need them to scope out bass on deep beds that other anglers can't see. Meanwhile, if you're trying to spot isolated grass clumps or laydowns where skittish lunkers lurk, premium sunglasses also help. I recently picked up a pair of Costa Del Mar Wave 580 glasses. Friends had told me for years that the 580s block light waves from the yellow and blue spectrums that our eyes have problems processing and really sharpen your focus. I figured it was a bunch of marketing hype, but once I tried them out, I couldn't believe how much of a difference they make. Simply slide on a pair and look at a distant billboard and you'll instantly notice how your focus is sharpened. Amazing! I personally like the Silver Mirror lens color: the mirror cuts down harsh light on bright days, while the amber lens color provides great contrast in all light conditions, even on cloudy days. You can check them out for yourself at www.costadelmar.com .
As a side note, I posted my February article on my website, entitled "Top 5 Spots for Finding Bass Quickly." It details my strategy for finding bass fast on unfamiliar waters. www.lakeforkguidetrips.com/fishingarticles/feb2009.htm
Lake Conditions: Heading into the prespawn, Fork is in great shape. The lake level is currently reading 402.11' (about 11" below full pool). Most of the lake is clear, with stained water on the north ends and in areas where the wind has been pounding. Thanks to mostly stable water levels this year, large amounts of hydrilla & milfoil are growing in the lake, making for awesome shallow water fishing all spring. Water temps bottomed out around 45 last week, then rebounded to near 50 with the latest warm up.
Location Pattern: Much of my location and presentation info remains unchanged from last time, and will probably stay that way through most of the prespawn. 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 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.
Presentation Pattern: The jig and lipless crankbait have excelled in the cold recently, but as the water warms, you'll want to expand your offerings. My prespawn 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, black, 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, silver, 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 or watermelon red 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.
More Fishing Reports: