Paul from Indiana released his 11 lb 6 oz trophy to make lots of lunker babies:
As did Barry with his 10 lb 5 oz jig fatty the next day:
13 year old Kyle tied his personal best with a 5 lb’er, then smashed it with a 6.6 and a 9.1
Jacob & Robert from MO put their jig expertise to good use:
I did some “field research” on the new Dobyns DX745 rod with an MPack jig on my day off:
After a very cold start to February, a prolonged warming trend has the big prespawn females moving towards their spawning grounds on Lake Fork. The fronts are moving the fish around and the bite changes daily but many fish are committed to the creeks and won’t be leaving until after spawning. For example, the sun beat down last weekend and water temps were getting as high as 65 in the pockets. Shad started showing up in the backs of the bays and my guide customer Paul from Indiana caught an 11 lb 6 oz bass from 3’ on a lipless crankbait on Monday. A cold front came through that night so Tuesday morning had air temps in the 30s and the water temps dropped as low as 49 degrees in some areas. After striking out that morning in the backs of creeks, we dropped back to the channels in the middle sections of creeks and started connecting with the big fish again. The bass had moved less than 100 yards in most places and were tight to the lip of the creek channels, including a super fat 10 lb 5 oz trophy for my customer Barry. Yesterday (Wednesday) saw a little warm front and the bass started creeping shallower again. We found them stacked on key channel spots in the morning with jigs in about 10’ (including 9 good slot fish from one tree) in 53-55 degree water. Later in the day, stumps in the back of the warmest pockets with 60-63 temps had very active fish in 2 to 5 feet. I suspect the thunderstorms and ensuing cold front today will knock them back a bit again but a few warm days later this week will send them right back up shallow.
The prespawn bite has been very good on Fork so far this season and the really big fish are just starting to show up. With the spawn beginning soon and running into May every year, it’s not too late to join the fun. After that, it’s topwaters for post spawners and then our best deep water structure bite of the year for big fish with deep cranks, Carolina rigs and football jigs from May into July.
If you haven’t caught it yet, I’m be a frequent participant and host of “The Big Bass Battle” on Versus. The show also runs on WFN (World Fishing Network), as well as on Time Warner cable in the Dallas area. More new episodes will air in a couple weeks, with trips to Fork, LA, and MS.
In addition, I was featured recently in the In-Fisherman’s story about fishing chatterbaits for big bass, one of the hottest rigs for spring on Lake Fork and on the tourney trail for the past few years. You can check it out on my media page: http://www.lakeforkguidetrips.com/fishingarticles.htm
Lake Conditions: Fork’s water temps continued to warm after the snowstorms earlier this month. The lake level is currently 399.72’ (about 3’ 3” below full pool) and a ton of stumps are now visible. The boat lanes are still safe to run in general, but definitely exercise caution when heading out of the clear-cut areas. Water temps were reading 51 to 55 yesterday in the main lake to 63 degrees in the warmest creeks. The main lake is the normal greenish clear color but many creeks and the upper end of the lake are pretty stained due to all of the wind. Apparently because of the low water and very cold water temps, there is currently very little grass cover on Fork. With a good rain today and so little vegetation, expect the water to be muddier than normal this spring.
Location Pattern: 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. Start your search in areas that have lots of spawning fish in 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. During warming trends, follow bass back into the creeks and onto the flats. After cold fronts, they’ll typically drop back just a little bit to adjacent points and creek channels.
As I say each spring, bear in mind 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. 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: Jigs, suspending jerkbaits, and lipless crankbaits have been my workhorses so far this spring. With the fish moving up from the points and creek channels onto the spawning flats, expect spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and soft jerkbaits to become much bigger players in the coming days.
Lipless crankbaits in ½ or ¾ oz, like the Lucky Craft LV500 and LVR D-7, will work about any day of the spring if you stick with them. Red and crawfish colors are most popular and they often work well, although oddball colors often produce better on any given day. ½ oz Redemption spinnerbaits with tandem or double willow blades with white or chartreuse and white skirts 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” Live Magic Shad on the back of a ½ oz Phenix Vibrator Jig and fish it in the same areas you’d throw a spinnerbait. As the water warms and they start to think about spawning, moving baits don’t work as well and soft plastic jerkbaits take over. Lake Fork Trophy Lures’ new Hyper Stick was far and away the most productive soft jerkbait on Fork last year with a dying shimmy that soft plastic stickbaits are famous for on the fall, plus the added attraction of a swimbait swimming motion when you move it. Rig it weightless on a 4/0 offset or wide gap hook and fish it with long pauses. I’ve paired it with a 7’3” Dobyns Savvy Series SS733C rod and 17 lb FluoroHybrid Pro line so I can make long casts to skittish shallow lunkers, yet still have enough feel and power to pull them out at great distances.
After cold fronts like we’ve had recently, the bite slows and I’ll switch to a suspending jerkbait or pitch a jig. Lucky Craft’s model 100SP Pointers in gold or chrome patterns are my traditional choices, although Gunmetal Shad & Phantom Chartreuse Shad are my new favorites. Work these with long pauses around grass or wood cover. For jigs, I go with the ½ oz black and blue MPack jig from Lake Fork Trophy Lures and pair it with a matching Fork Craw or Hyper Freak trailer in the blue bruiser color. I’m using Dobyns’ brand new 7’4” Extreme model DX745C for pitching my jigs and Texas rigs. It is well balanced making it easy to pitch all day and it is ultra sensitive which is important because the jig bites in this cold water are ultra faint. Occasionally you’ll feel a slight thump but most of the time the fish just pick up the jig and hold it. If you put a little pressure on them they’ll drop it immediately, so you need a rod that detects even the slightest bit of pressure. The heavy power rod has plenty of muscle to horse fish out of cover when paired with Lake Fork’s new fluorocarbon coated FluoroBraid. 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 or e-mail me through http://www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com
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