2019 has been a super year for me and my clients. I started my season in early spring with several successful trips to Lake Welsh. We caught fish both on beds and on topwater most every (if not every) trip. Then, I had a great spring on Lake Fork. I was booked solid for two months. We were blessed to catch two 10-pound bass (congrats Dr. Joe and Roy) and many bass in the 7 to 9 pound range.Then, in June, I had two different clients (congrats Clayton and Jason) catch the same 10.25# bass in a 6 day period. And in July, a client boated the biggest fish of my 30 year career. Technically, it wasn't the heaviest (this was number 8 for 12+ bass). But she weighed 12 pounds in July and she had a sunken belly. My guess is that she would have been 14 to 15 pounds in March. She was very long, very wide and very deep. Definitely an unforgettable fish (congrats Anne!).
Once the water got hot and the bite slowed down, I quit promoting trips and put my focus on the house I neglected for 17 years and into learning a new programming language and working on a new business venture. In September, I only had 2 short trips - both were clients prefishing for Sealy (the biggest bass tournament of the year). One of them caught an over-slot fish and got 2nd place for the hour (congrats Gary!) during the tournament. Not bad!
Then in October, when the Berkey tournament was getting close, I realized I hadn't done any bass trips since before Sealy (after a guide won a boat, Berkley put in a 30-day guide rule). I was eligible to fish the Berkley for the first time in about 10 years. I was on the fence as to even fish it. I had better things to do with my time and my money. But I took advantage of the opportunity and I was blessed to win first-place on two different hours with a field of 1200 fishermen.
On the first day, I fished hard and still didn't have a fish in the boat at 11AM. But I adjusted my game and ended up weighing in a 2.96# fish that I caught on a drop-shot during the 1:30PM hour. In most cases, a 2.96# that's under 16" would win a boat in this tournament. Fish Fishburne announced it as the winning "under slot" fish (even though there was still another day) and they sent me to the polygraph room. Soon after I got out, someone weighed a 2.98# for the 2:30PM hour and won that hour and went on to win the 19ft Skeeter Boat. I was happy to get the first place for the hour. And at the end of day one, I was still in second place for the tournament. So the boat was mine if nobody got a 24 inch fish on day 2.
Day 2 started off a little better. I caught a 15 3/4 inch fish on a Texas rigged 7" power worm before the sun came up. I figured it was a money fish, but I knew it wasn't as big as yesterday's 2.96#. I listened to the radio and someone weighed in an over slot fish (less than 6 pounds) in the first hour. I decided not to weigh in early in the hopes that I could get one to top 2.98#. I had 3 decent fish in the box at 11AM and had a 4th in my hand. As I opened the box to decide which one to cull, my biggest one jumped out of the box and all the way across the back deck, just one flop away from freedom. Fortunately, I was able to trap it and get it back in the box. At this point I had decided to weigh my fish at 12:30PM, 1:30pm, and 2:30PM. But I also figured my two smaller fish (2 pounds each) were only good if the other guys were struggling. As I was almost ready to head to weigh-in, I caught a 7 pounder on a topwater. It was a slot fish, so it wasn't legal. But it was heavier than anything weighed in at that point. So, I saw a possibility of catching an over-slot fish to win the bigger boat. I decided to skip the 12:30PM weigh-in and gamble for a big fish. I did manage to catch another good topwater fish in the 5-6 pound range shortly after that. Then, the skies cleared and the topwater bite was over. I loaded up and made it to the 1:30PM weigh-in and was pleasantly surprised to find that the fish that jumped out of the livewell weighed 2.71# and was good for another first-place hour. What a fun day!
With such a poor number of big fish (only 2 fish weighed that were over 24 inches with 1200 fishermen in a two-day event), I've been working on my house and my programming - and haven't been promoting Fall bass trips on Fork. I went out for a couple of hours before this last freeze to check some of my best spots where I can usually catch a bass about every 10 minutes in Fall. There was baitfish everywhere, but not much (other than birds) feeding on them. I graphed several fish. But they weren't nearly as aggressive as they usually are in Fall with water temps around 62 degrees. The weather was nice and the timing was great (just before a big freeze), yet the bite was so slow that there were virtually no bass boats on the lake.
My guess is that the bass fishing will continue to be slow on Lake Fork until the water temps get back up to 60 degrees in March. With the bass bite being so slow on Fork, I prefer to promote crappie, yellow bass, and white bass trips and primarily focus on taking kids and amateurs. I prefer to use spoons and minnows for these trips. I will bait the hooks and run the cameras while my clients catch most of the fish. We usually end up with 7 or 8 different species of fish in a 1/2 day trip - and we often get a nice bass or two as a bonus. It makes a great video if you bring a kid. And I will clean the fish if you want to take some home. Starting Dec 1, we can keep 25 crappie/person with no size limit. So even the small ones are keepers. This should be a good pattern well into 2020.
If you want to catch bass, lets go to Welsh on a weekday when the traffic is lighter. We should be able to catch good numbers and a few good sized fish. And if we go early enough, we should be able to catch bass on topwater baits. What a blast!!
Last I heard, there was two stacks running and the lake was low. But fish are biting - and I believe it's been getting better every year for the past several years.
I know that's not what you expected from a fishing report. I wish I had better news about bass fishing on Fork. The baitfish are so abundant that even the little ones aren't that easy to catch. But on a positive note, with all the baitfish present, the bass are fat. Also, since its tough for everyone, there isn't a lot of competition out there. From now through mid Feb, it's mostly hunters and crappie fishermen. And this year, fishing pressure is lighter than ever. So, you may well have a better chance than ever to sneak up on one of those Lake Fork Mega Giants and find her with a full belly. It may be tough, but Fork is still the best big bass lake anywhere! And spring will be here soon!
That's about it for a report. Now, I want to talk about my videos (my latest obsession). I have 30 to 40 guide trips from last spring where we had trips worthy of making a cool video. This year, my process got a lot more complicated because I'm using more cameras and I'm doing 4k footage. I've been procrastinating making the videos for a number of reasons, but primarily because I knew I could make them better with more research and training. After putting together a few of them, I decided it would be best to release them when people would actually want to watch them. When I fished with the In-Fisherman, we would fish in the spring and the videos would be aired starting in early January. I plan to do something similar. I'm open to suggestions as to what days/times would be best. At this point, I plan to put out 30+ videos between Jan 1 and the end of March. I plan to release them to Youtube, Facebook, and Instagram. Please subscribe in advance. My handle for all 3 social media platforms is @lakeforkfishingguide
If you would like to book a trip, you can see my schedule and book your trip online at http://www.bassfishing.org/go
Or just call me at 214-FiveFourNine-4644
Good fishing and good luck.