Lake Fork Report
March 21, 2009
Lake Fork - Freshwater Fishing Report
After an extended warming trend in early March brought in a big wave of spawners, a strong cold front with heavy rains muddied up and cooled Lake Fork, slowing the bite considerably last week. The water has steadily warmed again this week and that is drawing a number of fish into the shallows to start spawning again. Meanwhile on the south end of the lake and nearer deeper water, the vast majority of bass remain prespawn and lunker females are staging on points and creeks leading to spawning areas. With a steady forecast for the next week and the New Moon as well, we'll see another big wave of fish to move up shortly.
I expect the spawn to continue into early May, as it does most every year on Fork. By the end of April, many fish will already be in post spawn and early summertime patterns. As those females feed up after the spawn, the result is our most consistent fishing of the year for numbers of quality fish in the 3 to 7 lb range, with a shot at a 10+. That means topwaters early or all day on cloudy days. After that, it is deep water structure fishing the rest of the day on possibly the best structure fishing lake in the country. So if your plans don't allow you to take advantage of the spawn this year on Fork, don't despair, you can still enjoy what most locals consider the best fishing of the year on Fork—May through July.
As a side note, I added my March article to my website. It's the first part of an in-depth 2 part series on fishing a jig in the springtime for lunkers. You can check this and all of my other bass fishing articles out at www.lakeforkguidetrips.com/fishingarticles.htm .
Lake Conditions: The lake level is currently holding steady at 402.73' (about 3" below full pool). Much of the upper lake is stained to muddy but starting to clear, while the south has good visibility in most areas. There are still large areas of milfoil and hydrilla but the grass coverage seems to be getting thinner. I expect these areas to green up and start expanding as the water warms. Water temps are on the rise, with temps in the mid- to upper-60s in protected pockets, while the main lake was running from 58 to 62 on Friday.
Location Pattern: For prespawn and staging fish, key on points and along edges of flats or creek channels. Areas with submerged vegetation for cover will typically have the most fish. Main lake grass beds near the mouths of these coves are holding some fish, as are main and secondary points inside the coves. During warming trends, follow bass back into the creeks and check the edges of grass flats and creek channels. After the fronts, drop back to deeper water adjacent to where the fish were before the front and you'll quickly relocate them. For spawning fish, look for protected bays in the north end of the lake or at the very backs of major creeks. As the water continues to warm and we move towards April, bass will start spawning nearer the mouths of creeks and in deeper creeks. The main lake flats are typically the last areas to spawn, often as late as early May.
Presentation Pattern: For prespawn bass, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and chatterbaits are still catching big fish, especially on overcast and windy days. With lots of stained and muddy water, bright color schemes that include a lot of orange, chartreuse, or red have worked best. For throwing shallow and medium running cranks, I've finally discovered a set up that delivers all the features I want. The new fiberglass 705CB/GLASS model from Dobyns Rods is the lightest fiberglass rod I've ever used and it'll chunk crankbaits a mile, with an action that is slow enough to let bass engulf the bait and then keep the trebles hooked up during the fight. To maintain sensitivity, I pair this rod with the new 11% stretch PowerSilk mono in 28 lb test from Lake Fork Trophy Lures. The line has the diameter of about 17 or 20 lb test and has virtually no memory, so it casts a mile, and the low stretch allows me plenty of feel to feather my cranks along the top of the grass. This awesome set up delivers the best of all worlds—it allows me to easily fish all day with its light weight, enables me to land most everything that bites my treble hook lures, all while maintaining a good feel of the bait.
For a big bass, go with a ½ oz chatterbait with a watermelon/red/pearl 4.5" Live Magic Shad trailer and swim it in the same areas you throw a trap or spinnerbait. On calm days, you'll typically do better by switching to a suspending jerkbait or pitching a jig and a Texas rig. Go with gold or clown colored jerkbaits on cloudy days, while silver color schemes work better on sunny days. Work these baits with a few twitches and long pauses. For a real prespawn monster, pitching heavy cover along the first breakline and creek channels is the way to go. I go with a 3/8 oz Mega Weight black and blue or green pumpkin jig with a Lake Fork Craw trailer in the blue bruiser or watermelon candy colors. For the Texas rig, I'll pitch a Lake Fork Flipper, Top Dog Lizard, or Hyper Freak in black neon, green pumpkin or watermelon/red with a 1/8 to 3/8 oz bullet weight and slowly work it around cover. I throw these on 65 lb braided line and a heavy action 736C model Dobyns Rod to horse those brutes out before they tangle me up. For bass that have moved onto spawning flats, weightless Texas rigged or wacky rigged soft plastic jerkbaits like Magic Shads, Live Magic Shads, and Hyper Whack'n Worms become your best option. Shades of green pumpkin and watermelon are normally top colors, with watermelon/red baits with the tail dipped in chartreuse being the top producer lately.
For spawning bass, white or watermelon Top Dog lizards, Flippers and Craw Tubes work great. White baits allow you to clearly see your bait on the bed, while more natural shades of green are often needed to catch the more finicky bass. Many spawning areas have water that is too muddy to see bedding fish, so pitching Texas rigs and weightless soft plastics to any wood cover and holes in the grass will catch the spawners that you can't see. Work your bait very slowly and keep it in place on the bottom for a long time or you'll pass up all but the most aggressive fish.
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: