Lake Fork Report
September 15, 2010
Lake Fork - Freshwater Fishing Report
It's tournament season on Lake Fork, with a big tournament or two every weekend for the coming month. The Big Bass Splash this weekend kicks things up a notch with the 3000+ anglers competing for $500,000 in cash and prizes. The good news for the tourney crowds is that the shad and tons of keeper sized fish are hitting the shallows of Fork right now. Bass are visibly chasing shad all around the lake, including in the backs of many creeks and we are catching a lot of fish on most of our trips. Although we are still catching a big fish now and then, it has been more of a quantity than quality deal for the past few weeks. There are still some fish in deep water holding in about 14 to 22', but the shallow fish are more consistent day-in and day-out.
Considering most of the attention on Fork right now is on tournament fishing, I'll deviate a bit from my normal report and include my article about tournament fishing on Lake Fork. Good luck to everyone this fall and I hope some of this info helps.
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: www.youtube.com/watch?v=OatBx6KpyJk
Lake Conditions: Fork's water level continues to drop. The lake level is currently 401.00' (2' below full pool) and a lot of stumps are now visible. Water temps are in the low-80s (I was reading 81-82 this morning) and water clarity is clear on the south end and stained up the lake. The hydrilla and milfoil are really starting to mat up in the shallows as the water drops.
Fork Tournament Fishing in the Fall
Fall is tournament season on Lake Fork, with thousands of anglers in several big bass tournaments, as well as a number of regional trail events. Due to the restrictive 16" to 24" slot limit on Fork that remains in effect for all tournaments, anglers' strategies are a little different on Fork than on most lakes. Since the vast majority of prizes for Fork tournaments are won by anglers with fish under 16", I'll focus on those patterns.
During the fall tournament season (Sep-early Nov), numbers of bass are available in both the shallow and deep sections of Fork. As the water cools, many bass move back into creeks and onto the flats near creek channels chasing shad. At the same time, shallow main lake grassbeds and timber hold lots of bass, too. After spending most of the summer fishing deep water structure, the shallow fisherman can consistently catch bass in the fall, so begin your fishing there.
Start your search for productive areas with moving baits, and then switch to soft plastics to catch numbers from those areas. Keeping in mind that you're looking for bass that are 16" and smaller, downsized lures typically work best. Topwaters are a great starting lure, and the smaller sizes of poppers and walking baits like Lucky Craft's Sammy, G-Splash, and Gunfish are very productive. The G-Splash is a popper that works best on calm days, while the walking and spitting Sammys and Gunfish work great when there is more chop. With the G-Splash, you can work it very slowly like a regular popper, or work it fast and it will spit while walking side-to-side. Depending on the mood of the fish, they'll prefer one retrieve over the other. Remember to cast these on a floating line like with low memory PowerSilk mono so you can cast these baits a long ways and still keep them on the surface. A long rod with a soft tip helps a lot too, with the Dobyns Champion 7' long 704CB being a good example. After the sun gets up and bass won't commit to surface baits, shallow crankbaits and lipless crankbaits work best. Bass are keying on small shad now, so chrome or shad colors of LVR Mini lipless crankbaits work all fall long. While the water stays warm, wider wobbling crankbaits like RC 0.5 or BDS 0 and BDS 1 square bill cranks move a lot of water and catch fish. Once water temps cool into the lower 60s, tighter wiggling cranks like the SKT Mini MR will garner more attention. And certainly don't forget spinnerbaits. A ¼ oz Redemption spinnerbait with two silver blades and a translucent white skirt fools many bass in the fall, especially on windy banks. Cover water with these baits until you get a couple of bites in an area and locate a school.
Once you've found a few fish in an area, soft plastics will normally produce more bass from the spot. The #1 option is a wacky worm. Rig a Hyper Finesse Worm on the weedless wacky weight system from Lake Fork Trophy Lures and cast it to the edge of grass, concentrating on points or along creek channels. If conditions are a little windier, the Hyper Finesse Worms and 4" Hyper Worms work great on a 1/8 oz jighead, fished shaky style. Fish these very slowly around areas where you've picked up fish with the moving baits and you'll be able to seine out more bass. When the bite is off and bass bury up in the grass a little more, or when they're holding in deeper water just off the edge of the grass, a finesse Carolina rig with 12 lb FluoroHybrid Pro on a 7'4" Dobyns Extreme DX743 rod, a ¼ oz sinker and a 12" leader can be dynamite. Rig a Fork Baby Creature, Baby Ring Fry, or the Hyper Finesse Worm on the hook and you'll be in business. Finally, a 3.5" Live Magic Shad rigged on a weighted 3/0 Ultimate Swimbait Hook will catch neutral bass that are suspended around the grass. I primarily like shades of green for these lures in clearer sections of the lake, with green pumpkin and watermelon shades being consistent producers. In murkier water, June bug does well on Fork.
For a shot at a 24"+ over the slot bass, normally the largest bass are caught very first thing in the morning before the fish become pressured. Try a 10" Fork Worm on a TX or Carolina rig, or a ½ oz MPack Jig with a matching Fork Craw or Pig Claw trailer early in the morning along the deep grass edge on main lake points.
Best of luck to those of you tourney fishing Fork this fall. If I can be of assistance, please contact me at 214-683-9572 or e-mail me through my website, www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com.
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