Happy New Year everyone! It’s hard to believe that another year has passed already and it's 2017. The 2016 fishing year on Lake Fork was spectacular and I expect this year to be just as good or better. We saw a lot of big fish caught and the lake has had back-to-back spawns that have been tremendous. I expect we will see another great spawn with the lake in amazing shape and water levels up again. This continued growth of the fish population is going to result in better and better fishing each year. Over the next several years the fishing will be outstanding!
Lake Fork Water Conditions
Lake Fork is in great shape right now despite low water conditions. We are currently sitting at 400.12 which is right at 3 feet low. If we have normal precipitation amounts this spring though, we could find ourselves with an overflow of water. The water conditions are great with fairly clear water 2-3 ft in most areas except the backs of some of the creeks and windblown areas. The water temperatures have been in the 50-55 degree range, which is normal for this time of year. Occasionally if we get a serious cold front, you could see the water temps dip into the 40’s but none so far. I’m excited to see a lot of the grass that is rebounding and continue to hold on through winter. I think if the temperatures will remain mild, we will see a lot of new grass in a lot of different areas this spring. Fresh and healthy hydrilla is always fun to fish in!
Bass Fishing Tips & Techniques
The best pattern for me in January is 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 hold 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. If you can reel it past, rip it off the grass, bang it off a tree, et 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 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 ¾ oz model. I will also break out the suspending jerk bait on an Abu Garcia Villain rod with the all new MGX 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, orange, clown, and Pro blue. 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, JC’s Spicy Craw, or Fouzman. I will trail my jig with a Berkley Power bait Chigger Chunk or the Havoc Pit Chunk in matching colors. The big female bass on Lake Fork can’t resist this jig combination!
Look for the deep bite out there too as there are lots of fish still roaming around out in the depths. I will look at the main lake structure on my Garmin 7612 electronics. I also have the new Panoptics and they can’t hide from these state of the art electronics. I will look forward to 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 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?
I am excited about this New Year and the bass fishing on Lake Fork! If you are headed to Lake Fork 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 will also be taking some trips to our local power plant lakes (Monticello and Welsh) for those that want to get in on some of the great winter action there. 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. You can contact me to make your reservation at 903-736-9888 or send me an email. You can find me on Facebook and follow my official Lake Fork Guide page.
In the Market for a New 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 and they 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.
Luke 11:28 – “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it."
Tight Lines & God Bless,