Regular customer and friend US Army Lt Col Patrick caught some nice bass before heading to Afghanistan for his 5th deployment. Wishing him a productive tour and a safe return.
6‘4“ former linebacker Bernie from MN didn’t get a double digit on this year’s trip but managed to form tackle some nice bass on his annual trip to Fork:
Video of a few nice fish, including an 8, while breaking in my new boat last month:
Ranger Z521 Catches 8 lb bass during break in
A very warm and mild winter has made for pleasant fishing conditions but has the bass a bit more scattered out than when bitter cold snaps bunch them up in a few key places. The bite has been pretty typical for late winter/early prespawn, with long lulls interrupted by flurries of several bites in a small area. If you catch one fish be sure and work the area over thoroughly, as you can normally catch several nearby. Despite some warm weather, I’m still doing a lot better concentrating on points and creek channels than by covering a lot of water on the flats. As we head into March and get closer to the spawn, expect waves of bass to spread out across the flats and then spinnerbaits, shallow crankbaits and weightless soft plastics will excel. Until then, work over the staging spots for the prespawn females.
As a side note, new episodes of “Big Bass Battle” are airing on NBC Sports (formerly Versus, and now part of everyone’s basic cable) and WFN (World Fishing Network). I’m a frequent host and participant on the show and we have some good action for the coming season on lunker lakes like Fork and Falcon. It has been a lot of fun to film and I hope everyone enjoys watching it. Check your local listings for air times.
Lake Conditions: Regular rains are slowly bringing up Fork’s water levels and many boat ramps are in good shape now. The lake level is currently 397.37’ and rising (about 5’ 8” below full pool and up a couple feet from the fall). Water temps in the main lake was up to 57 and into the low 60s in creeks a couple weeks ago. After more seasonal weather you can expect to find water temps from 48 to 54 right now, pretty normal for this time of year. Water clarity is ranging from the classic Fork clear green water in some creeks to pretty muddy in others. In general, I like the clearer water on the cloudy and windy days, while I feel more comfortable in muddier water when it’s sunny and calm.
Location Pattern: There are still some big bass schooled up out in deep water right now if you want to get away from the shallow water crowds. 25’ to about 35’ is where you’ll find most of the schools right now. The schools are quite large and I’ll see tons of arches on my Lowrance from a hodgepodge of bass, white bass, crappie, and catfish on key spots.
If you’re like me though, 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. While about any flat will hold a few fish, start your search in areas that have lots of spawning fish in late February through 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. Main lake points and flats near the mouths of these coves hold a lot of fish this time of year, as do secondary points inside the coves—provided there is deep water nearby. 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: The lack of grass this year has narrowed my normally short list of prespawn lures even more Lipless cranks like the new Lucky Craft LV RTO in 150 (2.5”) and 250 (3”) sizes are normally one of my primary baits but I’m not fishing them nearly as much this season. ½ oz Redemption spinnerbaits with tandem or double willow blades with white or chartreuse and white skirts have worked better when slow rolled, 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 chatterbait and fish it in the same areas you’d throw a spinnerbait. I’ll rig both the spinnerbait and vibrating jig on a 7’ 3” Dobyns 734C rod so I can cast them a mile to cover water, yet still have enough power to bring big fish under control.
Suspending jerkbaits and pitching a jig or a Texas rig have been my mainstays this season. 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 on points and staging banks. A long rod with a forgiving tip helps land big fish that just slap at these baits, so I throw them on a Dobyns 704CB cranking rod. For jigs, I go with a ½ oz MPack jig from Lake Fork Trophy Lures and pair it with a matching Fork Craw or Hyper Freak trailer. Black and blue is my traditional favorite color, but with so many folks pitching jigs this year I’ve been doing better by sorting through a wide variety of color schemes this spring. Keep trying different colors until you hit on what is working that day. For the Texas rig, I’ll pitch a Lake Fork Flipper or Hyper Freak with a 1/4 oz Mega Weight, again experimenting with colors. Work your jig or Texas rig very slowly along creek channels, steeper banks and staging points with short drags and small hops.
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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