A few representative fish from the past week, including a couple for me on my scouting day (that's my brother's little 6 lb dink in my right hand, he hooked it while it was trying to take the lure from my fish).
Bass are in all stages of spawn right now on Lake Fork—prespawn, spawning, and postspawn. I’d estimate about 50% of the fish have spawned so far and we will have fish on beds into early May as usual. Because of the variety of patterns, Fork is fishing wide open right now and you can fish your strengths. Either pick a style of fishing that you’re good at and find a part of the lake where the fish are doing that, or pick a part of the lake you know well and figure out what spawning stage the bass are in there and work them over. The prespawn fish are heavier but a bit more here today, gone tomorrow. The spawning fish are moody but make for fantastic fishing if you find them moving up, either by sight fishing or fishing soft plastics. The postspawn fish feed the most aggressively and are predominately females right now because the males are still guarding beds in most cases.
We’ve had so much wind lately that I’ve concentrated mostly on the postspawn patterns on my guide trips. The wind allows for big baits with heavy gear and you can run the patterns from spot to spot and catch a lot of fish. Most of these fish are skinny, beat up females that now weigh 3 to 6 lbs, with some 8s thrown in the mix. Because there is very limited grass on Fork this year, bass are transitioning to points and structure very quickly and grouping up already. When another major wave of spawners hit the bank, it’ll be time to move back up shallow to take advantage of the easy pickings.
Look for the spawn to continue for about another month. 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 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.
Lake Conditions: Storms and fronts have the lake level, clarity, and temps bouncing around a bit. The lake level is currently 399.71’ (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 61 to 67 yesterday in the main lake, after being up to 71 on Saturday. 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. There remains very little grass on Fork but I’m starting to see more and more milfoil popping up and a bit of hydrilla coming back too.
Location Pattern: For prespawn and staging fish, key on points and along edges of flats or creek channels. With very little grass on the lake this year, bass are relating to the timber. During warming trends, follow bass back into the creeks and check the edges of 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 through 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: No real changes here, although just about every category of lure in the tackle box will be working by later this month. For prespawn and postspawn bass, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs, and lipless crankbaits will catch bass, especially on overcast and windy days. First and foremost are lipless crankbaits in ½ or ¾ oz, like the Lucky Craft LV500 and LVR D-7. 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 nice bass in the same areas that the lipless cranks work, as will shallow running crankbaits like Lucky Craft RC 2.0 or BDS4 square bills. For big bass, 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. White or white/chartreuse vibrator jigs with Sun Perch or Albino Shad Live Magic Shads work well. And 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 MPack Jig in black and blue or green pumpkin with a Lake Fork Craw or Hyper Freak trailer in matching colors. For the Texas rig, I’ll pitch a Lake Fork Flipper or Hyper Freak in black neon, Bama Bug or watermelon/red with a 1/8 to 3/8 oz bullet weight and slowly work it around cover. The new Dobyns DX745C Extreme rod rigged with 40 lb HyperBraid has been landing the light biting bass from the thickest timber without fail.
For bass that have moved onto spawning flats, weightless Texas rigged or wacky rigged soft plastic jerkbaits like Magic Shads, Live Magic Shads, and the Hyper Stick become your best option. The Hyper Stick combines the shape of Senko-style stick worm baits with the segmented body action of the Live Magic Shad. The result is a worm with unique action from even the slightest rod movement. Shades of green pumpkin and watermelon are normally top colors, but don’t forget Magic Craw Swirl and Blue Bruiser with the muddy water this year. These fish are often spooky, so long casts are key. For weightless soft plastic jerkbaits, I like using the Dobyns Champion 733C with 20 lb FluoroHybrid Pro line. The 7’3” rod whips the baits out there, while it still has enough backbone to drive the hook through thick worms on long casts. The FluoroHybrid Pro line has the feel and invisibility of fluorocarbon, yet it casts well and ties strong knots like mono—it’s truly the best of both worlds.
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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