It’s February and the early spring fishing season is in full swing here at Lake Fork! Lots of big bass are starting to show up as they prepare to spawn. If you’re looking to get in on some of this trophy bass action, now is the time, before all the spring crowds start to hit the lake. Here are some tips that may help you in your search of that fish of a lifetime.
Water temperature is probably the single most important factor to locating active fish this month. You will want to concentrate on areas where the water is warmer or on a warming trend. Having an accurate temperature gauge is important. I rely on my Garmin Echomap Ultra units, mounted at the console and bow, to deliver and they don’t disappoint. Live Scope is amazing and unmatched compare to other new forward facing sonars! Most water temps are going to range in the low to mid 50’s this month but fishing in 56 degree water is more productive than 52 so keep an eye on your electronics for changes throughout the lake.
The best patterns for me in February are always in the shallow to mid-depth regions. I like to target main lake areas or secondary points at the mouth of any of the major creeks. A lot of fish stage out in these areas until the water temperatures rise in the spring and the backs of the creeks are conducive for spawning. I start off shallow in the 2-8 ft range and fish reaction baits like a red/orange lipless crank bait like a Berkley Warpig in 1/2 – 3/4 ounce sizes. If you can reel it past, rip it off the grass, bang it off a tree, etc.... These fish will react to it and bite it. Other great choices for reaction baits are a square billed crank bait like a Berkley Square Bull or I also use a lot of the new Berkley Slobberknocker vibrating jigs in 3/8- 1/2 ounce in green, white, or chart/white. Covering water and making lots of casts at cover along the bank will pay off. Remember to hit everything at different casting angles to ensure that you are covering the areas thoroughly. If you catch a few fish in a certain stretch of bank be sure and back track and make multiple passes through that area. There is always a key feature holding fish in these areas. Sometimes it’s a depth change like a ditch or drain, bottom change from rock, to sand, or vegetation that is causing the fish to hold there. If the fishing gets tough up shallow I like to back off a little deeper and throw a little heavier lipless bait like a 3⁄4 oz model. I also like fishing a Santone Rattlin Jig on the stumps for some real giants! They’ll smash a 1/2 – 3/4 ounce jig flipped around the stumps in pre-spawn staging areas. Best colors are black/blue, PB&J, and my custom JC’s Spicy Craw color. On days that the bite gets tougher you can break out one of these and save the day. I love the Berkley Stunna 112 and 112+. Getting on the trolling motor and watching the LiveScope while working this bait around stumps and grass with slow twitches will draw some big fish out to get it!
The deep fishing is slower for me this time of year and I concentrate most of my efforts in the shallows. I know the fish are still out there in the deep water this time of year but finding “active feeding” fish is a different story. I am generally catching smaller male bass deeper and big fish shallow in January. I always check deep spots though with my Garmin EchoMap Ultras
while I’m running from spot to spot though. You never know when you might pull up on an active school of big ones feeding. Most of the fish are holding in 22-28 feet right now. My favorite technique to use on these deep schools is a drop shot rig or a jig head with a grub and a tube jig. Even though these fish seem to be a lot more lethargic than the shallower fish they will still take off with your bait. Another great choice is to drop a jigging spoon down on them. Carolina rigged baits can be good as well with warmer weather. If you find a school or group of fish that is suspended in an area, don’t forget about the umbrella rig. This bait is deadly for big fish that are suspended. You can retrieve it at about any depth in the water column that the fish are holding. I use the 5 wire rigs with 1/8-3/16 oz jig heads. A 4” Berkley Power swimmer swim bait in about any shad color will work or you can play with some of your favorite swim bait combinations to see what the fish want.
Well, I hope this helps anyone that’s coming out this month to chase some big bass. If you would like to fish with me this year, I still have just a few spring dates available. My 2023 schedule filled fast though so contact me as soon as possible if you are just now beginning to plan your trip. I also have gift certificates available for those of you that are interested in purchasing a friend or loved one a guided trip on Lake Fork. You can contact me to make your reservation at 903-736-9888 or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org You can also visit my website for more information about Lake Fork and my guide service at www.officiallakeforktrophybass.com You can find me on Facebook and follow my official Lake Fork Trophy Bass Guide page at https://www.facebook.com/lakeforktrophybassguide
I really enjoyed my Bass Cat boat in 2022 and am about to rig my new 2023 boat for the season. I couldn’t be happier to be serving my customers on Lake Fork as part of the Bass Cat Team and am looking forward to providing more great trips this year out of my new boat! If you’re interested in checking out any of the Bass Cat models, be sure to reach out to R & R Marine in Pittsburg, Texas. They have the all-new Puma STS that everyone is raving about so go by and check it out! Steven Stroman and his crew have amazing sales and service as well as a complete tackle shop with just about anything you need. I would like to thank all my sponsors that are continuing to support me in 2023. I am looking forward to representing them again this year on the Bassmaster Opens Schedule as well as the Major League Fishing Big 5 circuit. I appreciate all their support as I serve all my great guide clients on throughout the year on Lake Fork as well! Sponsors: Toyota, AFTCO, Bass Cat Boats, Mercury, I Am Second, Omnia Fishing, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Garmin, Santone Lures, Costa Sunglasses, Power Pole, 3:16 Lure Company, Elite Tungsten, Johnson Communications, and Bass Boat Technologies.
Tight Lines & God Bless, James Caldemeyer