February is rolling at Lake Fork! What an awesome time of year it is to come out and enjoy some big bass action before the spring masses arrive to chase down a lunker. The fish are hungry and at their heaviest weight of the year so it stands to reason that catching the fish of your dreams is highly attainable if you are out on the water putting your time in. Here are some helpful tips that I hope will help in the pursuit of those Lake Fork bass!
The lake is still in great shape for the beginning of the spring season. Water levels are still steady with the lake about 1 foot low but expect spring rains to begin raising Lake Fork to full pool over the next month or two. Water temperatures are beginning to creep back up into the low to mid 50 degree range after bottoming out in the 40's during the month of January where it was one of the coldest months in history for east Texas. There is still some grass growing in areas around the lake and could really burst out if we have water levels remain consistent. The overall clarity of the lake is good with stained water mostly in the backs of some of the creeks and other windblown areas.
The primary patterns for bass this month revolve around their pre-spawn activity. As the water warms the fish will begin migrating into the creeks from the depths into the shallower water. I always stress to anglers that are coming to Lake Fork this time of year that water temperature is everything! Its important to be observant about the water temperature as you move around on the lake. Having great electronics like my new Garmin 7612s really helps. It will give you an accurate reading of surface temperatures and help you eliminate less productive water. The bass are generally going to focus on the warmest water that they can find and the fish in those areas are going to be the most active. I like to look for areas that temperatures are increasing daily. A good place to look first is in the creeks and pockets that are protected from the north. These areas do not cool as fast during a front and often times warm up quicker, especially the ones furthest north on the lake. If I am in temperatures between 52-56 degrees, I consider that ideal for pre-spawn bass activity. If it gets any warmer than that you can expect them to start spawning.
Most of my fishing in February is centered on pre-spawn patterns until the bass become committed to the spawn though. I like to strategically target big female bass that are staging and feeding up before they actually move to the nests. I feel that these big bass are more vulnerable to being caught this way than they are when they get on the beds and every fisherman going down the bank is tossing at them. This pattern pays off big especially when you find the right area and a congregation of bass. The areas that I am targeting these pre-spawn bass in are points, creek channels, drains, and shallow structure. Most of these fish will be relating to some sort of cover whether it is grass, stumps, boat docks etc. The key to finding these big bass in these areas is the presence of bait within the area. It stands to reason that big pre-spawn female bass that are eating heavily to prepare to spawn are not going to be in an area where there isn’t anything to eat. Look for schools of shad on your sonar and you’ll be in action. Again, I rely heavily on my electronics to give me accurate readings and I have complete confidence in them to show me what I need to know about the water that I am in.
Once I find the area that I am looking for, I begin targeting the bass with several different techniques depending on the conditions. Around grass in 2-6 feet of water I am throwing a lot of reaction type baits like lipless crank baits in red or shad colors, suspending jerk baits in gold, silver, or clown colors and if you want to catch the giants you’ll want to throw big swim baits like the 3:16 Lures - Rising Son. This bait is an incredible big bass bait and its action is unmatched. You’ll also want to get your hands on the new 5” Rising Son available this season as it will be doing some serious damage. Rigging it on the proper rod is very important. I throw mine on an Abu Garcia Villain rod that is a 7’11” heavy action rod. I will also spool up an Abu Garcia Toro Beast reel with 20 lb Trilene 100% fluorocarbon line. This will allow you to make long casts with this heavier bait and still have enough backbone to set the hook on a big fish. In the areas that I am fishing timber I am either casting a square bill style crank bait like the Berkley Pit Bull or I am flipping wood with the Santone Lures Rattlin Jig. Best colors have been chartreuse, red, and white on the crank baits and 3/8-1/2 ounce in black/blue, black/blue/purple, or PB&J colors with a Berkley Chigger Craw as a trailer. The square bill is a great search/reaction bait in the timber and will help you locate fish quickly. Once you’ve found an area though, slow down and start flipping and pitching the jig and you can catch some big ones. If you are not able to get on a bite up shallow you may need to back off the bank some and fish the deeper areas where these fish are staging. Flipping a jig in 8-15 feet of water has been very productive as well.
The deep bite is not out of the question this month either. You can still find many fish out on the main lake in holding patterns that are just waiting for the water to warm up and begin their migration to the shallows. Most of these fish are holding in 22-32 feet of water and are often times suspended over structure. I like to target these suspended bass with a Hog Farmer Bait Company umbrella rig. I prefer the 5 wire/8 blade or 5 wire/4blade models for most applications. You can rig it with any of your favorite swimbaits. A 3”-5” size is most effective and white or just about any shad color will get the job done. I also use a 5 pack of Santone Riggin Heads which are a great jighead that has a very sturdy hook in it to hold a big fish. Casting this out over deep areas this time of year and counting it down to where you see the fish holding on your electronics doesn’t often bring many bites but the ones it does will be some of the biggest fish in the lake!
I hope this information helps you in pursuit of a trophy bass this year on Lake Fork. If you are thinking of coming out and would like to book a fishing trip with me this year, feel free to contact me anytime. I still have a few dates available but you’ll want to contact me fast to ensure the best available dates. I would enjoy the opportunity to take you or your group fishing and help you catch the fish of your dreams! You can contact me by email at email@example.com or you can call or text message me at 903-736-9888 Also, please visit my website to find out more information about Lake Fork bass fishing and my guide service at www.officiallakeforktrophybass.com If you are in the market for a new boat this year, it’s a great time to look into the all new Ranger 521 L as its Ranger Boat’s 50th anniversary and they are celebrating with the introduction of this new boat model. If you haven’t seen it yet you can stop by Diamond Sports Marine and Fred will be glad to show you around. Test rides are also available so feel free to contact me or call the dealership at 903-383-7829 and we will get you out on the water for a ride in one. I would like to thank all my sponsors that support me fishing the FLW Series and 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, and Fabtech Motorsports. I look forward to the 2018 season and the blessings in store for the year. I pray that each of you are blessed as well!
Proverbs 3:5-6 Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.
Tight Lines and God Bless,