March Madness is officially here at Lake fork! It’s definitely going to be one of the busiest months we’ve seen, from spring break anglers chasing big bass, to MLF pros showcasing their talents on the most fabled Texas lake for trophy bass fishing. It will be exciting to see the numbers of big fish weighed in around the lake at various tournament weigh-ins and marinas! I hope to see you guys out on the water this spring sharing some great fishing. Here’s some information that might help make your trip successful and catch the big bass of your dreams!
Lake Fork Water Levels
First off, the water levels on Lake Fork are bursting at the seams with all the rain we’ve had already this year. We’ve been at full pool for a few weeks and let a lot of water out at the dam just to keep from flooding. I expect that we will get more spring rains which is great for the bass to spawn but could cause the fishing to become a little less consistent. The water clarity is stained in the northern creeks and clear to almost 3 ft on some of the south end. Water temperatures have been fluctuating depending on the weather and spring can be a roller coaster for temps. Most of the water is in the mid 50’s and holding on the verge of reaching the consistent 58-60 degree mark necessary for the bass to begin to spawn.
Targeting Bass on Lake Fork
There are two patterns for targeting bass on Lake Fork this month. Pre-spawn and spawn. For pre-spawn bass I am concentrating on areas that are leading into creeks that have major spawning areas. The northern most creeks are great places to start in March as the water warms quicker and are protected from northern cold fronts. I look for water temperatures in the 53-58 degree range to be the most productive for pre-spawn bass. You can find them staging on the main lake and secondary points leading into the creeks and on the edges of the creeks. Some will be shallow in 2-8 feet of water and others in the 8-14 feet range. For the shallow bass I like to use a lipless crank bait like the 1/2 oz Berkley Warpig or Rat L trap in red or orange and gold primarily to search and cover water. Another great search bait is a chatter bait in the same size. I like a chartreuse/white, black/blue, or green pumpkin color tipped with your favorite trailer. Berkley has the new Powerbait Chigger Quad and Havoc Grass Pig. Fishing these baits around trees, over grass, and laydowns can be extremely effective for a big pre-spawn bass in March. Keep moving until you find the fish. Also, keep a close eye on your surface temperature reading. I rely on my new Garmin EchoMap Ultra graphs to give me an accurate water temperature reading. If you have not seen the new Garmin units, you’ll want to check them out! The technology that Garmin has in sonar, side imaging, mapping, and all new Panoptix LiveScope “Perspective” view is amazing. The bass right now are following the warmest water and are most active in that water so finding it this time of year is the key. It’s also important that there are baitfish present in these areas. If you find a combination of both you’ll really be in action. Once you find some fish and catch a few I recommend that you stay in the area and work it over thoroughly. Chances are there will be more. The flipping bite will not be as prevalent on the bigger timber as most of them are under water with the high lake level, but this fresh high water will provide some great opportunities to flip flooded bushes, grass, and other cover up shallow. I like a Santone Lures 3/8 or 1/2 oz flipping jig in black/blue, camo, black/blue/purple, or my own signature color “JC’s Spicy Craw” with a green pumpkin or black/blue Berkley Chigger Craw or Havoc Pit Chunk for a trailer. Some of the biggest fish caught this time of year are on a jig so if you are after a giant bass you will want to spend some significant time flipping and pitching it around. My other big favorite for catching giant springtime bass are the 3:16 Lures swimbaits. You’ll want to go by the new 3:16 Swimbait Store on Lake fork or stop in at Lake Fork Marina while you are at the lake to pick up some of these. The best colors to use are my signature Caldemeyer Custom color, Carp, Ayu, Hitch, Dirty Shad, and Chartreuse Shad. If a cold front comes in and the fishing slows you will have to slow down the presentation of your baits. Oftentimes, a suspending jerk bait or a shaky head fished very slowly in the place of these other baits can save the day. I like to use the old trusty Smithwick rogue and Berkley in clown or gold/orange this time of year. On the shaky head, I am using a 4 in Berkley Havoc Bottom Hopper or Berkley Powerbait Ribsnake on a Santone 3/16 oz Piglet shaky head.
When the water temperatures reach the point where the fish have begun spawning, I am changing over to a lot of weightless rigs and Texas rigged baits. I like to rig my new Abu Garcia Veracity rods and Revo Premier reels spooled up with 15-20 lb Trilene 100% fluorocarbon. On the business end of my line I like to use a 4/0 wide gap hook and soft stick bait like a Berkley General or soft jerk bait like the Berkley Jerk. The best colors are black/blue, green pumpkin, or watermelon red magic. I will fish these baits over the flats or the backs that bass are spawning on very slowly. If the wind will not allow you to fish these baits weightless another great way to catch spawning bass is with the good ole Texas rig. I usually use an Elite Tungsten weight in the 1/4 to 5/16 oz sizes with a 4/0 hook. I like to use the Berkley Bunker Hawg or Berkley Powerbait lizard in black/blue, green pumpkin, and watermelon candy. The bass will be spawning tight to cover in a lot of areas and using root systems to hold their eggs in. Sight fishing will also be in play so have you a pair of Costa sunglasses on with the best polarization available in eyewear so that you can see them!
Book a Guided Fishing Trip on Lake Fork
If you are headed to Lake Fork soon 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 dates still available. Be sure to schedule with me soon if you would like to fish anytime 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! You can contact me to make your reservation at 903-736-9888 or send me an email.
I would like to thank all my sponsors that support me. I am looking forward to representing them this year on the Bassmaster Opens circuit as well as serving all my great clients on Lake Fork! Sponsors: Toyota, Carhartt, Ranger Boats, Mercury Outboards, I Am Second, Leer, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Garmin, Santone Lures, Costa Sunglasses, Power Pole, 3:16 Lure Company, Elite Tungsten, and Bass Boat Technologies. 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 Comanche 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,