Lake Fork Guide Tom Redington Fishing Report 3-18-12

A few representative fish from trips this week:

Earnie caught this big bass and a nearly 3 lb crappie earlier this month:
Waves of bass keep moving up to spawn at Fork and the fishing is very good all over the lake right now because another wave hit the banks in the past few days. A big group moved up a couple weeks ago and just about everyone on the lake was whacking them. A little front and 1 foot rise in the lake had the bass a bit funky earlier this week, but consistently warm days and nights really had them hitting by the end of this week. The fishing has been so fun that after my customers said uncle and quit for the day the past two trips, I stayed out until dark by myself and took advantage of the biting bass.
I’d estimate maybe 30% or 40% of the fish have spawned already but there is a bunch yet to do their thing. With prespawn, spawning, and postspawn fish all available, fishermen have a lot of patterns to choose from. The cornucopia of options allows you to find some fish biting in just about any conditions Mother Nature throws at you. If you’re not getting bit, keep changing up tactics and locales until you find them.
With such a warm spring, I expect the spawn to continue for about another month. After that, it’s topwaters for post spawners and our best deep water structure bite of the year for big fish with deep cranks, Carolina rigs and football jigs from May into July.
Lake Conditions: Regular rains are slowly bringing up Fork’s water levels and most boat ramps are in good shape. The lake level is currently 398.55’ and holding steady (about 4’ 6” below full pool and up nearly 4’ since the fall). Water temps in the main lake are in the low 60s and some shallow creeks are considerably warmer in the afternoons. The rising water and wind has Fork more stained than normal, especially on the northern half of the lake and in the backs of major creeks. 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: For prespawn and postspawn fish that are staging on their way in and back out, key on points and creek channels near spawning flats. With virtually no grass in the lake this year, bass are relating to the timber so make sure you are casting tight to the stumps. During warming trends, follow bass back into the creeks and check the edges of flats and creek channels. After the fronts, drop back to deeper water adjacent to where the fish were before the front and you’ll quickly relocate them. For spawning fish, look for protected bays in the north end of the lake or at the very backs of major creeks. As the water continues to warm and we move through April, bass will start spawning nearer the mouths of creeks and in deeper creeks. The main lake flats are typically the last areas to spawn, often as late as early-May.
Presentation Pattern: Just about every category of lure in the tackle box will be working by later this month. For prespawn and postspawn bass, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, jigs, and lipless crankbaits will catch bass, especially on overcast and windy days. A great search tool are lipless crankbaits like the new Lucky Craft LV RTO. Red and crawfish colors are most popular and they often work well, although oddball colors often produce better on any given day. ½ oz spinnerbaits with tandem or double willow blades with white or chartreuse and white skirts will produce some nice bass in the same areas that the lipless cranks work, as will shallow running crankbaits like Lucky Craft LC 2.5 or BDS4 square bills. Square bills are notorious for losing fish and missing bites, so I use the fiberglass 7’ Dobyns 705CB MF for my shallow cranks. The fiberglass rod lets bass take the bait a bit deeper and the soft tip also keeps them hooked up. For big bass, try swimming a 4.5” Live Magic Shad on the back of a ½ oz bladed jig and fish it in the same areas you’d throw a spinnerbait. White or white/chartreuse bladed jigs with Sun Perch or Albino Shad Live Magic Shads work well. And for a real prespawn monster, pitching heavy cover along the first breakline and creek channels with a jig or TX rig is the way to go. I go with a 3/8 oz MPack Jig in black and blue or green pumpkin with a Lake Fork Craw or Hyper Freak trailer in matching colors. For the Texas rig, I’ll pitch a Lake Fork Flipper or Craw Tube in black neon, Bama Bug or watermelon/red with a 1/8 to 3/8 oz bullet weight and slowly work it around cover.
For bass that have moved onto spawning flats, weightless Texas rigged or wacky rigged soft plastic jerkbaits like Magic Shads, Live Magic Shads, and the Hyper Stick become your best option. Shades of green pumpkin and watermelon are normally top colors, but don’t forget Magic Craw Swirl and Blue Bruiser with the muddy water this year. These shallow fish are often spooky, so long casts result in more fish. For weightless soft plastic jerkbaits, I like using the Dobyns Champion 733C. The 7’3” rod whips the baits out there, while it still has enough backbone to drive the hook through thick worms on long casts. A finesse Carolina rig with a ¼ oz sinker and a 12” leader is another great way to present those same soft plastic jerkbaits to slightly deeper fish in 4’ to 8’ and it also keeps you in contact with your bait in shallow water when the wind is howling. When everyone is up beating the bank to a froth, move out a little deeper with the light Carolina rig and you can catch fish from under where everyone else’s boats are sitting.
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 , where your satisfaction is guaranteed.
Good Fishing,
Tom
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