James Henderson Lake Fork Report 3-20-2010

LAKE FORK REPORT 03/20/10

LAKE CONDITIONS:
Lake is currently above full pool and rising with temps in the low 50‘s rising up to mid 60‘s on sunny warm days. The lake is mostly dingy in the backs of the main arms clearing to stained near the dam. I have been finding new Hydrilla growth in some areas and the Gator Grass is also starting to leaf out along the banks in warmer areas. As of this report I have seen no new growth of Water Hyacinth but there are large areas of dead and decaying Hyacinth vegetation.

Fishing is inconsistent due to frontal passages and night time air temps dropping into the 30’s. The night time temps will be the key to stable patterns developing as we move into the spring. Recent trips have had numbers between 10 and 25 and reports of many fish in the double digit range being caught. There are currently fish in several phases: late winter, pre-spawn and spawn. I have already caught several good females off beds, and there are presently males in great numbers shallow.

LOCATIONS:
With the frequent drops in temperature and frontal conditions, its important to key on funnel areas to increase odds of catching fish. Look for travel routes leading to major spawn flats: tree lines, fence rows, ditches, creeks, points leading out of creeks, are all prime travel routes for fish to migrate in and out of the spawning grounds. Areas where these can converge are sweet spots for staging and migrating fish. Creek channels being the primary travel route with ditches converging, or feeder creeks adjoining, points that taper out to deeper water and or channels are all areas worth working thoroughly. Fish that are commited to the shallows will pull back to the nearest breakline (outside weed edge, or nearby drop off). Post frontal fish will also hold tight to cover(trees, weed clumps, deeper dock pilings), and their strike zone will be small. Frequently this time of year when we think the fish are not biting in the morning, they have just relocated due to cold temps at night. On days with warmer weather or later in the day when the water warms, you can concentrate on the flats themselves. As long as night time temps don’t plunge, the fish will stay in the shallows or very nearby.

LURES/BAITS:
Primary baits for me have been lipless rattle baits, Senko type baits, spinner baits, wacky rigs, jerk baits. Lures that are producing the best for bedding fish are tubes, lizards and creature baits. Another technique that’s producing numbers for the tournament fishermen is the drop shot around vertical structure and deeper locations near bedding fish.

PATTERNS AND PRESENTATIONS:
My bigger fish have been coming on the lipless rattle baits in red and on shad or chrome colors. I prefer to use the chrome/gold color on sunny days and in clearer water, and the red/crawfish colors in dingy water or cloudy days. Work the rattle baits by ticking the tops of grass; in open areas pop and twitch the bait to trigger strikes. It can be a pain to work in the heavy grass beds, but worthwhile in a big way.
The Senko type bait is working well either weightless Texas rigged or wacky. Some days you have to dead stick it, and other days they want it moving faster, so play with the retrieve untill you find what is working best. Best colors have been natural hues of green.
Spinner baits in white or white/chartreuse, 1/4oz to 3/8oz size, are also producing worked around cover. Try varying the depth of presentation, working the bait anywhere from just below the surface to where it can barely be seen.
The wacky rig, although not usually known as a big fish bait if fished correctly can produce as good as any presentation this time of year. I normally rig with a straight tail worm or soft stick bait in natural hues. Fish will usually hit it on the fall so work it slowly, lifting your rod tip to raise it and allow it to fall slowly with occasional twitches.
Stick baits or hard jerk baits are starting to come on strong and will get better as the spawn progresses. I prefer a gold with black back floating jerk bait at this time of year. I like to cast it out and let it set just a few seconds. Then just twitch my rod tip to make it wobble and flit around on the surface. This is excellent for drawing strikes around bedding bass and they will annihilate it at times. After twitching it on the surface then start to work it down with a series of sharp twitches and snaps of your rod tip. The strikes will almost always occur as your raising your rod while the bait is sitting still in the water column. Be sure you have premium hooks on because a lot fish will swipe at the lure and good hooks will ensure you catch fish that slap at the bait. Your rod for this presentation needs to have a slow action, a quality glass, or composite cranking stick will allow you to impart the most action to the bait and still land fish that are hooked in the side or outside the mouth.

SUMMARY:
As you can see a lot of techniques are producing right now, some better than others. The number one determining factor is the stage the fish are in that you are targeting. You can catch lots of pre-spawn still, with plenty of fish moving into full spawn mode. Pick the technique to fit the situation and you will catch fish. It won’t be long(a week or two maybe) before the majority of fish will be in full blown spawn. With the weather as its been, we are looking at having a large spawn centered around this next full moon. Most years we have spawning scattered starting in February increasing numbers into April and stragglers as late as June. This year it will be more concentrated and this coming full moon should see very intense spawning activity.

PICS:

If I can be of any help to anyone or if you have a question, just give me a call. I do have a few days at the end of this month open and several days next month if anyone is interested.

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