Tom Redington Lake Fork Fall Report

Fall is tournament season on Lake Fork, with thousands of anglers in several big bass tournaments, as well as a number of regional trail events. Due to the restrictive 16” to 24” slot limit on Fork that remains in effect for all tournaments, anglers’ strategies are a little different on Fork than on most lakes. Since the vast majority of prizes for Fork tournaments are won by anglers with fish under 16”, I’ll focus on those patterns.

During the fall tournament season (Sep-early Nov), numbers of bass are available in both the shallow and deep sections of Fork. As the water cools, many bass move back into creeks and onto the flats near creek channels chasing shad. At the same time, shallow main lake grassbeds and timber hold lots of bass, too. After spending most of the summer fishing deep water structure, the shallow fisherman can consistently catch bass in the fall, so begin your fishing there.

Start your search for productive areas with moving baits, and then switch to soft plastics to catch numbers from those areas. Keeping in mind that you’re looking for bass that are 16” and smaller, downsized lures typically work best. Topwaters are a great starting lure, and the smaller sizes of poppers and walking baits like Lucky Craft’s Sammy, G-Splash, and Gunfish are very productive. The G-Splash is a popper that works best on calm days, while the walking and spitting Sammys and Gunfish work great when there is more chop. With the G-Splash, you can work it very slowly like a regular popper, or work it fast and it will spit while walking side-to-side. Depending on the mood of the fish, they’ll prefer one retrieve over the other. Remember to cast these on a floating line like with low memory PowerSilk mono so you can cast these baits a long ways and still keep them on the surface. A long rod with a soft tip helps a lot too, with the Dobyns Champion 7’ long 704CB being a good example. After the sun gets up and bass won’t commit to surface baits, shallow crankbaits and lipless crankbaits work best. Bass are keying on small shad now, so chrome or shad colors of LVR Mini lipless crankbaits work all fall long. While the water stays warm, wider wobbling crankbaits like RC 0.5 or BDS 0 and BDS 1 square bill cranks move a lot of water and catch fish. Once water temps cool into the lower 60s, tighter wiggling cranks like the SKT Mini MR will garner more attention. And certainly don’t forget spinnerbaits. A ¼ oz Redemption spinnerbait with two silver blades and a translucent white skirt fools many bass in the fall, especially on windy banks. Cover water with these baits until you get a couple of bites in an area and locate a school.

Once you’ve found a few fish in an area, soft plastics will normally produce more bass from the spot. The #1 option is a wacky worm. Rig a Hyper Finesse Worm on the weedless wacky weight system from Lake Fork Trophy Lures and cast it to the edge of grass, concentrating on points or along creek channels. If conditions are a little windier, the Hyper Finesse Worms and 4” Hyper Worms work great on a 1/8 oz jighead, fished shaky style. Fish these very slowly around areas where you’ve picked up fish with the moving baits and you’ll be able to seine out more bass. When the bite is off and bass bury up in the grass a little more, or when they’re holding in deeper water just off the edge of the grass, a finesse Carolina rig with 12 lb FluoroHybrid Pro on a 7’4” Dobyns Extreme DX743 rod, a ¼ oz sinker and a 12” leader can be dynamite. Rig a Fork Baby Creature, Baby Ring Fry, or the Hyper Finesse Worm on the hook and you’ll be in business. Finally, a 3.5” Live Magic Shad rigged on a weighted 3/0 Ultimate Swimbait Hook will catch neutral bass that are suspended around the grass. I primarily like shades of green for these lures in clearer sections of the lake, with green pumpkin and watermelon shades being consistent producers. In murkier water, June bug does well on Fork.

For a shot at a 24”+ over the slot bass, normally the largest bass are caught very first thing in the morning before the fish become pressured. Try a 10” Fork Worm on a TX or Carolina rig, or a ½ oz MPack Jig with a matching Fork Craw or Pig Claw trailer early in the morning along the deep grass edge on main lake points.

Best of luck to those of you tourney fishing Fork this fall. If I can be of assistance, please contact me at 214-683-9572 or e-mail me through my website, http://www.LakeForkGuideTrips.com.

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