February is a big month at Lake Fork for big bass! The fish are moving heavily into their pre-spawn patterns and preparing themselves for their annual migration to the spawning grounds. If you are eager to catch a trophy bass before the spring crowds roll in, now is the time to get out on the water. Here are some bass fishing tips that will hopefully help you catch that trophy bass you’ve been chasing!
The lake has been steadily rising with some recent rain and is now just over 2 feet low. I’m sure we will get an annual dose of spring precipitation that will bring the lake up some more before the spawn begins. The water clarity is pretty stained in a lot of the areas on the mid-lake and north end. The clearest areas are found on the southern end of the lake. Water temperatures are in the lower 50’s as I write this report but you can expect to see them in the mid to upper 50’s as we progress through the month unless we get some major cold fronts again. I actually saw some 60-degree water in January and fish that were acting like they wanted to spawn. I have not seen this kind of activity this early for a number of years. These fish are ready to go!
The best areas to target these pre-spawn bass are main lake and secondary points at the mouth of the major creeks or creek channel edges, bends, drains, and ditches adjacent to spawning flats. These big fish will be primarily in a “staging” mode this month. The bass will target these areas to feed heavily and wait for the water temperatures to reach a constant 58-60 degrees before moving up on beds. Water temperature is definitely the single most important factor this time of year. The bass will be most active in the warmest water available, which is generally located on a north bank that is protected from frontal winds. Grass is also a key component to locating the fish right now. You can usually look for the coots and they will point you to the best available grass where bass will be congregating for food and warmth as the spring progresses. It’s going to be an exciting spring for big bass this year on Lake Fork with some of the new grass that we have in areas of the lake.
There are just a few basic patterns and baits that I implement to catch pre-spawn lunkers. My number one favorite is a lipless crank bait fished over shallow grass beds 1-6 feet of water. There are such a wide variety of these baits it can be overwhelming but I like to stick with reds, oranges, crawfish patterns, chrome/blue, or white shad colors in 1/2 or 3/4 oz sizes. I like to use a very sensitive rod like the new Abu Garcia Premier rod with a newly available 7:1 ratio Revo MGX reel spooled up with 17-20 lb Trilene 100% Fluorocarbon line with my lipless baits. I make long casts over the grass and rip the bait as it tips the top of the grass on the retrieve. Most strikes are reaction strikes and will come as the bait pops loose from the grass. The bass here have also been chewing chatter bait. White or white/chartreuse have been best matched with a Berkley Havoc Grass Pig as a trailer. My other favorite for a big fish in February is a jig. I will use a 3/8 - 1/2 oz Santone jig in black/blue, black/blue and purple, Texas craw my signature custom color JC’s Spicy Craw with a matching Berkley Chigger Craw or Havoc Pit Boss trailer to flip the timber lining the mouth of the creeks. A lot of these big females will be eating crawfish and there is no better imitation to fool big bass than the jig. This presentation is often best during a cold front situation or when you have located a group of fish in a certain area with moving baits. Often times slowing down and dissecting an area will reap big rewards as these fish are often in groups. With a lot of the timber tops still exposed there is plenty of timber visible for flipping to but if the water comes up another foot, this pattern will not be as easy. Another great bait, especially after a cold front or calm sunny days, is the old suspending jerk bait. I will pick this up when I absolutely cannot get bit on anything else. I will fish it over the same shallow water areas as I do the lipless baits with long pauses between jerks. These big bass will come up and eat it when they will not go after much else. The best colors for me are clown and black/gold. Last but not least, do not forget to keep a big swim bait handy. As the water warms and the month progresses many of these big bass will be vulnerable to the big swim baits like the 3:16 Lure Company Rising Son and Weedless Rising Son. These swim baits are hands down the best producing big fish swim bait available. Their action and profile draws some big strikes!
There are still some schools of deep fish to be found in 20-35 feet during the month of February. It is very important to have a great graph like my new Garmin 7612 unit to locate these deeper bass. Areas at the mouth of major creeks and spawning areas like points, roadbeds, and ridges are prime locations. Drop shot rigs, a-rigs, and jigging spoons are your best bet once you find them.
In Pursuit of a Trophy Bass?
I am excited about this spring and the bass fishing on Lake Fork! If you are headed here 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 Lake Fork. I still have a few dates available for winter and am already taking 2017 reservations as well. Most people don’t realize how quick my spring and early summer calendar fills up on Lake Fork so please be sure to start thinking about scheduling your spring dates soon if you would like to get on my schedule. My available dates are already becoming limited. 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.
Need a New Fishing Boat?
Also, 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 2017 Ranger Boats daily and you do not want to miss the opportunity to check out the new Z series bass boats as well as the economical new Ranger aluminum series. These boats have some amazing features that are definitely eye-catchers! Give Fred a call to set up your personal demo ride in a Ranger Boat.
I would like to thank all of my current 2017 sponsors for supporting my FLW Series tournament fishing and my guide service on Lake Fork: Toyota, Carhartt, Ranger Boats, Mercury Outboards, I Am Second, Leer, Garmin, Berkley, Abu Garcia, Santone Lures, Costa Sunglasses, Power Pole, Rigid Industries, Road Armor, Fabtech Motorsports, Royal Racks, and Elite Tungsten.
Romans 8:31 - What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
Tight Lines & God Bless,