After the hot and dry summer, the recent cooling trend will speed along the fall patterns. Fall typically means fast action in the shallows for numbers of fish on moving baits like spinnerbaits and crankbaits and I always look forward to the change of pace. The warm and dry fall last year had the fish biting very well into mid-December and I’d expect more of the same this year based on our weather pattern. Autumn is also great for deep structure fishing other than a couple weeks around the turnover. If you’re looking to learn deep structure fishing skills—reading topo maps, setting up your graph correctly & decoding the images on your sonar to find schools, and learning deep water techniques like big spoons, football jigs, drop shots, Carolina rigs, swimbaits and deep crankbaits—the fall is a good time to head to Lake Fork.
As a side note, I’ve recently uploaded a few videos on taking care of your bass boat and will be adding more bass boat videos in the future. Check them out at http://www.youtube.com/user/DiamondSportsMarine
Lake Conditions: Lake Fork is now as low as I’ve seen it and still dropping. Currently it sits at 396.69’ (about 6’ 4” below full pool) and a ton of stumps are 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 dropped dramatically with the cooler nights, sitting in the low 80s in the main lake after reading in the upper 80s and even low 90s recently. The water color is a greenish clear on the south and somewhat stained in the creeks, especially up north. Very little hydrilla or milfoil remains on the lake so the bass are really keying on wood this year. Although the lower water and lack of grass make the lake fish differently than in years past, the reduced amount of hiding places has made for very good fishing overall this season.
Location Pattern: Main lake points and pockets have been holding most of the shallow fish. With the cooling temps, look for shad to push into the creeks and for the bass to follow them. Shad are the main key most days in the fall, so if you’re fishing an area and don’t see much bait, you probably need to keep on moving until you find it. Out deeper, I’ve been doing best with fish on the bottom in 20-28’ on humps, points, roadbeds, and creek channel bends. Many days the fish are suspending instead of relating to the bottom and they are schooling all around points, humps, and bridges throughout the day. Look for birds crashing the water to help find these spots for some exciting action.
Presentation Pattern: With bass keying on shad, most of my lure choices and colors will reflect that preference. Shades of white or chrome are always good choices in the fall on Fork. In the shallows, topwaters catch a lot of good fish early and late. Smaller topwaters closely imitate the size of the threadfin shad that Fork bass are keying on, so go with smaller sizes of poppers like Lucky Craft G-Splashes or Gun Fish when it is calm, or switch to the walking baits like Sammys if there is more chop on the water. After the sun gets up a bit, I normally switch to shallow running crankbaits like Lucky Craft LC 1.5 and BDS 3 square bills, ¼ oz spinnerbaits and rattle baits, or 3/8 oz chatterbaits with 3.5” Live Magic shads. To keep those money fish hooked up on crankbaits with treble hooks, I like fiberglass rods like the Dobyns 705CB Glass. The slower action of fiberglass allows bass to deeply take the lures and also keeps them hooked up well when fighting them in. Match it with sensitive fluorocarbon line and you’ll still have great feel, even with a fiberglass rod.
If the bass aren’t in a chasing mood, try a Texas rigged 8” Fork Worm in the same areas, pitching it to every stump and working it with a few hops before casting to the next tree. If the bass won’t respond to the TX rig, slow down even more with a wacky rigged Hyper Finesse Worm or a weightless TX rigged Magic Shad and Hyper Stick and the slow fall of the baits will get you bit. For these soft plastics, green pumpkin and junebug colors are working best on cloudy days, while watermelon/red and watermelon candy are better on sunny days. For a shot at a true lunker, try a 3/8 oz green pumpkin or blue bruiser colored MPack Jig with a matching Fork Craw or Hyper Freak trailer on timber around the creek channels running through the bigger creeks.
For the bass out deep, Fork Flutter Spoons and Lucky Craft deep diving crankbaits in shad or yellow bass patterns will catch some suspended fish. Fish relating to the bottom are a lot more dependable, so seek out these schools if you can locate them with your graph. Carolina rigged with Ring Frys or Baby Fork Creatures and drop shotting Hyper Finesse worms are working best for the bottom dwellers. I like using the 7’8” Dobyns Champion Extreme model DX784ML for Carolina rigs and the extra length allows me to take up extra line and get control of big fish at the end of long casts. When the bass come up schooling, they’ll eat just about any bait that looks like a shad. The trick is making a long accurate cast directly into the school. Soft plastic shad imitators like Magic Shads rigged on small jigheads work great for this. Big topwaters and lipless cranks cast a mile and can reach those schoolers when your buddy’s casts won’t quite reach them, so compact, heavy topwaters like a Sammy 115 and ¾ oz LV500 lipless rattlers are great choices too.
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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