This fall has been very mild and a lot of fun on Lake Fork. Last year’s autumn was rainy and cold, with muddy water and overall the slowest fall and winter bite that I can recall. Fall 2010, on the other hand, has generally been mild, dry, and warm; and the fish have responded. After an active shallow bite in the first half of the fall, Fork finished up turnover in October and the deep bite has been quite consistent. I’m still catching most of my offshore fish in the shallower range, about 17 to 25 feet, whereas I normally catch a lot of fish in 28’ to 38’ zone by this time of year, so expect the good fall bite to carry on for a while. Furthermore, with the warm water temps and low water levels, winter and spring fishing should be excellent this year for wintering and early staging females in the creeks.
With the holidays just around the corner, I do have gift certificates available for those looking for a present for their angling buddies. 2010 has been another super year on Fork, and the prospects for 2011 look even better with the low lake level and warm temps. Moreover, forecasters are calling for a warmer and drier than normal winter and spring, setting up perfectly for good spring fishing. Prespawn starts in late-December, so it won’t be long until my favorite lunker time of the year is here, January through March. If you’re looking for a fish of a lifetime, prespawn is the time to head to Fork.
My fishing report is below. If you want more information on fall fishing, check out the articles on my website: http://www.lakeforkguidetrips.com/...htm[/#800080][/font][font "Times New Roman"] . Included is the In-Fisherman story from the October issue with me talking about fall fishing, an article with my flutter spoon techniques in Bass West, plus the dozens of articles I’ve written, including the Nov 2010 article about the basics of deep water fishing.
Boat for Sale: My 2010 Ranger Z521 boat is for sale. It is a demo boat through my dealer and you’d be titled as the first owner. She’s value priced to save you big bucks off the cost of a new boat. For more details and pics of the boat, please check my website (www.lakeforkguidetrips.com) or drop me a note. Here’s a video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OatBx6KpyJk
Lake Conditions: Fork’s water level continues to slowly drop, as it has all autumn. The lake level is currently 400.04’ (just less than 3’ below full pool) and a lot of stumps are now visible. The boat lanes are still safe to run in general, but definitely exercise caution when heading out of the clear-cut areas. Water temps have been bouncing up and down with the regular passage of fronts, but in general the main lake has been holding in the mid-60s. The main lake has returned to the normal greenish clear color, except on the north ends where it is more stained. Some of the creeks are stained, but those with grass are pretty clear.
Location Pattern: There are still lots of fish to be caught up shallow. Grass on the main lake or around points in the creeks has been consistently good, while I haven’t done as well in the very backs of creeks lately. With all of the exposed timber, creek channel edges, fencerows, and treelines are all productive areas as well. For the past couple of weeks, the deep bite has been my most consistent bite during the middle of the days. The schools have been big and easy to find with your graph. Some of the schools are very large, with huge numbers of yellow bass, white bass, and catfish mixed in the with largemouth; while other schools have been entirely largemouth. It is a safe assumption this time of year that if you find the white bass and yellow bass, the largemouth will be there with them. Usually it is just a matter of figuring out some that the bass will eat and the smaller fish will leave alone, but sometimes you just have to weed through all the smaller fish to get to the black bass. Shallower main lake structures still seem to be best for the offshore bite, with areas topping out in 17’ to 25’ being the most productive.
Presentation Pattern: During fall, bass key on shad and most of my lure choices and colors will reflect that preference. Shades of white or chrome are always good choices in the fall on Fork. In the shallows, the topwater action has slowed for me, especially on cool mornings. I have had better luck, especially in the afternoons, in areas with loosely matted grass using topwaters like buzzbaits and Fork Frogs. Shallow running crankbaits like Lucky Craft’s RC 1.5 or BDS3 square bills, spinnerbaits and rattle baits, and 3/8 oz chatterbaits with 3.5” Live Magic shads have been productive, especially on the windy and cloudy days. As I mentioned before, bass are grouping on grass points, main lake grass, and treelines, so try these lures out in those areas and experiment until you find the hot lure that day. As you might expect, the best bait and color changes dramatically from day-to-day. It’s the time of year when dozens of different baits will work, so having several jack-of-all-trade rods on the deck is more helpful than a few specialized Carolina rig or cranking rods. Rods like the Dobyns Champion 733C and 734C (7’3” rods in medium to medium heavy powers) are equally adept at throwing topwaters and spinnerbaits to weightless soft plastics and jigs. Pair them with easy casting 15 lb PowerSilk mono and you’ll have some rigs that will be up to all but the most demanding bass fishing tasks this fall.
If the bass aren’t in a chasing mood, switch to a Carolina rigged Baby Ring Fry or Baby Fork Creature with a ¼ oz weight and a 12” leader and work along the grass edges for quality fish. If the bass won’t respond to the C-rig, slow down even more with a wacky rigged Hyper Finesse Worm and the slow fall of these worms will get lots of action from the smaller fish and an occasional good one. For these soft plastics, green pumpkin and junebug colors are working best on cloudy days, while watermelon/red and watermelon candy are better on sunny days. These techniques will also catch additional fish in areas where I’ve already caught some fish on crankbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwaters. For a shot at a true lunker, a 3/8 oz green pumpkin or blue bruiser colored MPack Jig with a matching Fork Craw or Hyper Freak trailer or a 10” Fork Worm Texas rigged will produce big bass when pitched to the deep weed edge, especially on points and around creek channels.
For the bass out deep, Fork Flutter Spoons and tail spinners are catching a lot of suspended fish. The more wind and cloud cover, the greater the likelihood that the bass will be suspended. Here again, the 3 and 4 power Dobyns rods do these chores well, with the 733C working great with tail spinners and smaller spoons, while the 734C is better when you break out 1 oz jigging spoons or throw the big 5” and 6” Fork Flutter Spoons. Fish relating to the bottom are a lot more dependable, so seek out these schools if you can locate them. Carolina rigged Baby Ring Frys and Twitch Worms and drop shotting Hyper Finesse worms work best. Once you get around a good school, catching these fish is usually just a matter of staying on them. The real key is finding the good schools with your graph.
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[/#800080][/font][font "Times New Roman"] , where your satisfaction is guaranteed.