Lake Fork Is On! Report & Pics, April 11, 2009
April 11, 2009
Lake Fork - Freshwater Fishing Report
Despite very windy conditions (often 25 to 40 mph) and cold fronts passing through every few days, a lot of big fish moved up during the past week. Best of all, you can fish for quantity or quality right now. While good numbers (20 to 40 fish/day) can usually be caught in the shallows by throwing soft plastics, most of these fish are male bass that are 5 lbs and less. My customers and I backed off and fished a little deeper (5' to 15') on points and grasslines and had a very good week for size. Although we didn't get a double digit fish, we managed to catch fish over 7 lbs on every trip this week except yesterday (Friday). We did catch one fish over 7 lbs on a bed, but all of the rest of our big fish came out deeper on spinnerbaits, crankbaits, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits, jigs, and Texas or Carolina rigs. Lots of fish are spawning on the north end of the lake, while the south end is just getting started, so there should be a few more weeks of good spring fishing.
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.
Lake Conditions: The lake level is currently holding at 402.82' (about 2" below full pool). Strong winds muddied large areas of the lake over the past couple of weeks. Much of the upper lake is stained, while the south end has good visibility in some areas. The milfoil has really greened up and is spreading in coverage quickly, while the hydrilla and lily pads are just starting to grow. Water temps rose and fell all week, with temps in the mid-60s in protected pockets, while the main lake was running from 59 to 63 on Friday.
Location Pattern: For prespawn and staging fish, key on points and along edges of flats or creek channels. Basically, look for the first drop off or cover adjacent to spawning flats. Areas with submerged vegetation for cover will typically have the most fish, although wood has produced some good fish lately too. 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, 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, lipless 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 some orange, chartreuse, or red have worked best. 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 1/2 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, we've been able to catch great numbers of fish on weightless or wacky rigged soft plastics. The Lake Fork Trophy Lures Zig Zag, rigged with a weedless wacky hook and a small nail weight in the nose, has been killer most days. I also like the 4.5" Live Magic Shad rigged on a 5/0 Ultimate Swimbait Hook for big fish in the shallows, fished with a short swim and long pauses. When it gets tough and the bite is slow, downsize and go with a 3.5" Live Magic Shad on a 3/0 Ultimate Swimbait Hook or wacky rig a Hyper Finesse Worm and you'll still be able to catch good numbers of fish, although the fish size will run a bit smaller on average. Shades of green pumpkin typically work better on cloudy days, while I normally switch to the watermelon colors if the sun comes out. I'm throwing all of these baits on the 7' 3" medium heavy power Dobyns 733C model rod. This long rod will launch light soft plastics a long ways to skittish shallow fish, but still has enough power to make a hook set at the end of a long cast and to fight them out of heavy cover. I normally fish these rigs on low stretch 17, 21 or 28 lb PowerSilk line (use lighter line in calmer, clearer water with less cover), but I've been experimenting with a new prototype line lately called Fluorohybrid Extreme. This line has all of the best properties of the standard Fluorohybrid line—low memory, high abrasion resistance, and small diameter—plus it has much lower stretch so it delivers a lot more feel. This line will be ideal for techniques that require a lot of sensitivity, like worms, jigs, and dropshots. Look for it to be available in a few weeks.
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. In addition, a Carolina rig on 21 lb PowerSilk with a 12" leader and a 3/16 to 5/16 oz weight is deadly when worked in 3' to 8' for beds that are too deep to see and for females waiting to move up. I put a Top Dog lizard, Magic Shad, or Zig Zag on the hook and it consistently catches big fish. 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.
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