Tom Redington Lake Fork Report 2-9-08

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Despite the wind, cold and rain, I’ve been fishing almost every day on Fork for the past 4 weeks now. As the water cooled and warmed over the past two weeks, our fishing has been exceptional. By that I mean it was either exceptionally awesome or exceptionally tough! After a good bite in the first half of January, the extended cold period at the end of the month made fishing very slow and we had a number of 4 to 6 fish trips. Last weekend saw a big warm up and the fishing was awesome on Monday through Wednesday this week. Tuesday was one of my best numbers days ever for February, with the fish biting all day. Right before the second hailstorm of the day at dark, the action was continuous, with fish after fish and a lot of doubles for the last hour of daylight. Numbers slowed down on Wednesday after the front came through but the big fish were on. Bernie from MN caught a 10-00 and a 7-06 that morning, with our biggest 5 fish totaling over 35 lbs for the day. A couple more cold fronts on Thursday and Friday slowed the fishing for us once again, with only 8 and 11 fish caught the past 2 days. February is big bass time, so concentrate on warming trends and fish patiently in key staging areas. Even on the slowest days we caught some big bass, so fish thoroughly and you might be rewarded with the biggest bass of your life. My fishing patterns remain mostly unchanged from my last report and will remain that way until sometime in March when the spawning patterns start to dominate.

Lake Conditions: Fork is holding steady about 3” below full pool, currently reading 402.77’. The lake is full of aquatic vegetation, with a deep weedline anywhere from 8’ to about 15’. The main lake is clear in most areas, while the creeks are ranging from clear to muddy, depending on how much wind exposure they have. Water temps were reading from 50 to 53 degrees on Friday, down from the mid- to upper-50s earlier this week.

Location Pattern: From now through much of March, I concentrate on prespawn and staging fish on points and along edges of flats or creek channels. Areas with submerged vegetation (primarily hydrilla, milfoil or coontail) for cover will typically have the most active fish. While about any grassy area 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 grass beds near the mouths of these coves are holding a lot of fish now, as are main and secondary points inside the coves, provided there is deep water nearby. During warming trends, follow bass back into the creeks and check the edges of grass flats and creek channels.

Keep in mind, too, 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. In general, look for bass on the flats and farther back in creeks during warming trends; conversely, drop back to points and main lake grassbeds after cold fronts. 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.

For deep structure enthusiasts, points, roadbeds, humps, flats and ledges in 18’ to 45’ will produce some big fish during the winter months as well. Use your electronics to find the schools of bass and baitfish and work them over with spoons and dropshots. I’m primarily concentrating on the shallow bass, so my presentation pattern will focus on that.

Presentation Pattern: My wintertime arsenal is pretty simple for fishing along grasslines and creek channels. First and foremost are red, crawfish, or shad pattern lipless crankbaits in ½ or ¾ oz. Stick with the ½ for grass that is near the surface and go with the ¾ for grass that is deeper. Buzzing these over the top of the grass on a quick retrieve works best some days, but after cold fronts, letting the trap fall and ripping these out of the grass will trigger most of the bites. ¼ to ½ oz spinnerbaits with double willow blades in white, red, or chartreuse and white 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 the new 5.5” Live Magic Shad in the same areas you’d throw a spinnerbait during warming trends. Rig it on the new Lake Fork Trophy Lures 7/0 wide gap hook and swim it slowly back to the boat with a few pauses. When the bite slows or the conditions are sunny and calm, I’ll switch to a suspending jerkbait or pitch a jig and a Texas rig. Jerkbaits in gold or clown patterns are my primary colors. Work these with long pauses over the grass and along the edges. For jigs, I go with ½ oz black and blue jigs with a Fork Craw trailer in the blue bruiser color. For the Texas rig, I’ll pitch a Lake Fork Flipper in black neon or blue bruiser with a ¼ to 3/8 oz bullet weight. Work your jig or Texas rig very slowly along creek channels or through deep grass for your best 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. For those of you looking for a guide trip, I’m booked for February, but I do have March 5 and 31 available, as well as a number of good dates for the spawn in April. If I can be of assistance, please contact me at 214-683-9572 (days) or 972-635-6027 (evenings) or e-mail me through http://www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com , where your satisfaction is guaranteed.

Good Fishing,

Tom

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