Happy New Year from Lake Fork everyone! It’s the beginning of another great year here at the big bass capital of Texas. I’m excited about the great fishing season ahead and the numerous events coming to Lake Fork this year. It is going to be host to Major League Fishing as well as the return of the Bassmaster Elite Series. There will be lots of big bass caught and big crowds in attendance.
The lake is in great condition to begin the season. We haven’t had too much rain lately. It’s been relatively dry with the exception of a few isolated showers, but spring is coming. We are currently sitting at about 2 1/2 feet low. As we get more consistent rain this spring it shouldn’t take much to bring the lake up to pool. We also have some scattered grass beginning to grow throughout the lake which is great. Water temperatures have been typical for wintertime conditions at 50-55 degrees with sometimes dipping into the high 40’s during the colder days. The lake is fairly clear to 2 feet in most areas on the main lake with more stained water in the back of the main feeder creeks.
The bass fishing on Lake Fork in January is a lot better than most people would expect. The cold weather keeps most people away. You typically will not catch a lot of fish but the fish you do catch are big ones. So, if you don’t mind the cold and quality over quantity is your goal then you will want to get out for some early in the year fishing before it begins to warm up and the spring crowds start hitting the lake.
The shallow fishing has been my primary focus this time of year. I find the fishing is more consistent in these areas as I target fish that are already beginning to transition into their early pre-spawn activities. As the water begins to warm you will find more and more fish moving up. Best depths are from 2-6 feet of water. Main lake and secondary points leading into major spawning areas are good places to start. Water temperature is critical and finding the warmest areas of the lake will produce best. The presence of bait is also a key factor as well as the bass are feeding heavily on threadfin and gizzard shad. I like to start off by covering water with reaction baits like a red/orange lipless crank bait like a Berkley Warpig. If you can reel it past, rip it off the grass, bang it off a tree or other cover it's all the better. These fish will react to it and bite it! Other great choices for reaction baits are a ½ oz Santone Lures spinner bait with a single Colorado blade in chart/white or black/chart. I also use a ½ oz chatter bait a lot this time of year in 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 backtrack and make multiple passes through that area. There is always a key feature holding these fish in the 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 ¾ oz model. I will also break out the suspending jerk bait on the “All-New” Abu Garcia Veracity rod paired with a Revo high-speed reel so that I can cast it long distances. The jerk bait can really save the day especially when it’s cold and the sun is up high under calm wind conditions. I like to throw gold, chrome, or clown colors. I like to use a smaller line on these like 12 lb Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon if I can get away with it. Otherwise if I am in heavy cover, I opt for 15 lb. I will also pull out to the creek channel edges this time of year and flip timber. The depths I target are 8-16 ft. With the low water conditions, you can really read the water and tell exactly where the creeks run through the middle of the areas you are fishing. I will take a Santone Lures 3/8 oz or 1/2 oz Rattlin jig and pitch at every tree along the channel edges. Pay attention to the direction the wind is blowing, as the fish will position themselves a certain way on the timber according to wind direction and channel drops. I like to focus on areas where the creeks make a bend and especially if it makes a bend near a point or any other bottom structure. My favorite jig colors in January are black/blue, black /blue/purple, and JC’s Spicy Craw. I will trail my jig with a Berkley Power bait Chigger Craw or the Havoc Pit Boss in matching colors. The big female bass on Lake Fork can’t resist this jig combination and it catches some monsters each year!
Check the deep bite too as there are lots of fish still roaming around out in the depths. Although most of these fish are harder to intercept, I will look at the main lake structure on my Garmin electronics. It’s difficult to hide from the Garmin Livescope! I will look for schools around bait in 18-25 ft. Sometimes the bass are suspended but you can catch them on big flutter spoons or a small slab spoon. Tail kickers are also very productive as well as drop shots with a finesse worm. I like to use watermelon red, chart pepper, and red shad colors during the winter. I am also catching a number of fish on the Hog Farmer umbrella rig tipped with Santone Rig Heads and Berkley’s Jordan Lee series swimbaits. It’s not easy to cast so having the right equipment is important. Once you start catching fish on it, it’s a ton of fun!
In Pursuit of a Trophy Bass?
If you are headed to Lake Fork this month in pursuit of a trophy bass and are looking to book a guide, I would enjoy the opportunity to take you or your group fishing and show you a great time on the lake. I have a few winter dates still available and am taking a lot of spring reservations. Be sure to schedule with me soon if you would like to fish in 2020. I fill up very fast! 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 for the holidays! You can give me a call to make your reservation or send me an email.
I would like to thank all my sponsors that support me. I look forward to a new year of fishing professionally and my guide service on Lake Fork: Toyota, Carhartt, Ranger Boats, Mercury Outboards, I Am Second, Leer, Berkey, Abu Garcia, Garmin, Santone Lures, Costa, Power Pole, 3:16 Lure Company, Rigid Industries, Bass Forecast, Elite Tungsten, Bass Boat Technologies, and Fabtech Motorsports. While you are at the lake be sure to stop by Diamond Sports Marine located on highway 154 just north of the bridge. They are receiving the new 2020 Ranger Boats daily and the Z Commance Series boats are better than ever. Give Fred a call to set up your personal demo ride in a Ranger Boat.
Psalm 147:11 - the LORD delights in those who fear him, who put their hope in his unfailing love.
Tight Lines & God Bless,