Friday, March 9, 2018

Bass Fishing Texas Style, Part 1.

Our view at the Mustang Resort.
Arriving on Friday late morning, my friends Joe Stanfield and Matt Davis picked me up at Dallas/ Fort Worth Airport where we our destination was the Mustang Resort on beautiful Lake Fork Reservoir. Our first stop was at the Bass Pro Shop in Grapevine Texas to pick up a few supplies.  Actually I just like stopping and ended up getting some socks, pants, and some terminal tackle as we don't have one of these in Minnesota.  Unfortunately BPS did purchase Cabela's and I suspect that eventually that's what they'll all turn into as Cabela's only has Bass Pro branded boats, like Tracker and I suspect some Rangers as Johnny Morris owns them as well.  After getting checked out of BPS we began an hour's journey to the Lake Fork Area.  It was quite obvious that the area has had a lot of rain the last few weeks, Joe said around 11 inches.  There was water everywhere!  As we approached the Lake there was a Lake Fork Trophy Lures company on the corner, I got the guys to stop.  It was interesting as they made their own lures there at the factory as well, they had a nice showroom and store.  I always like to get the flavor of the area, this was the perfect place for sure!  Talking to the staff, we had learned that the water clarity wasn't very good although they had started catching fish.  Leaving LFTLures we headed down the road a few miles and checked into the Mustang Resort.  Apparently this time of year is the pre-spawn period and the fish were going to be shallows, and mostly males seeking to find their bedding areas.  Lake Fork was a great trophy bass lake for years however it get's pounded pretty hard these days.  In addition the drought of a few years ago put a big strain on the fish and had a negative effect on the bass population.  Apparently the lake is coming back, it didn't matter to me as I was going open water fishing. Everywhere we went it was pretty obvious that we were going fishing so I simply told them about last weeks trip ice fishing on Mille Lacs, we drive 5 miles out onto the lake, drill a hole through 40 inches of ice then sit there and jig for fish.   The response is almost always the same....You did What???  After we got checked in and settled, our next adventure was going to a local favorite, AJ's Fish House on Lake Fork for some fried catfish.  Luckily it was coated in corn meal and quite good.  It was a buffet, just perfect for my waist, but we left quite full and got back to the motel to see the view above.  Matt pulled out a bottle of Monkey Shoulder blended scotch and between the 3 of us, we put a good hurt on the bottle.  Perfect, sitting outside with your friends in a light jacket, looking at the lake and sipping some fine scotch, doesn't get an better than this!

Our guide, Joe in the middle and Matt up front.
6:30AM came pretty fast and with the wind blowing our guide decided to trailer over to a different
marina to launch, apparently we'd be closer to where we were going to fish.  Our guide for the day was Brian Spencer, he had a very nice Legend Black Diamond bass boat with a Mercury 250 HP ProXS, 2 power poles in the back, a Minn Kota 36 volt in the front and a Humminbird Helix 12 on both front and console.  It has been a long time since I was in a bonifide bass boat, the last time was about 27 years ago with Brian Erickson, a friend of my business partner.  I was worried that this boat was goint to be cramped with 4 of us in it but that wasn't the case and it handled us pretty well.  Apparently the guide commented on how dirty the water was from all the rain.  I agreed as the visibility was less than a foot.  Our lures of choice were black Senko's rigged Wacky style.  Basically this is a Gary Yamamoto brand 5 inch salt impregnated plastic worm and it is hooked in the middle of the worm.  In this case no significant weight is needed as the Senko's naturally sink at a acceptable rate.  I have fished Smallmouth bass on Mille Lacs using Senko's rigged wacky style and as goofy as it looks. it can be quite effective.  I never fish bass much so I don't keep up on the latest trends however I did learn something quite new for me, the trick now is to use a special tool to insert an O Ring in the middle of the Senko then use the O ring to simply secure a #1/0 VMC weedless octopus hook.  The final rig was a weight the guide inserted into one end of the Senko.  Apparently he cuts his own nails as I looked and you can buy these weights already done.  The black contrasted
Matt With an Average sized Large mouth bass
the off colored water very well.  We simply worked the shallow bays looking for active fish that were checking out the spawn areas.  This meant we were fishing in less than 4 feet and the fish were not very aggressive.  Our water temperature was close to 60 degrees however, which in my world is pretty warm but geez, everyone had a coat on but me! The fish were not very aggressive as one would simply cast the worm into the lake then sort of shake it with your wrist until you feel something pick it up.  Often the line would just start heading perpendicular to your position.  We had fairly good equipment which included a 7 foot MH, fast tip casting rod, equipped with a nice Shimano low profile casting reel loaded with 14 pound fluorocarbon line.  Admittedly did pretty well for not casting a level-wind for a few months, only 1 birds nest and that came out fairly easy.  My friend Matt caught the first fish and I suspect that between the 2 of us we got 10 bass for the day.  My buddy Joe didn't do so good, I think it was the Monkey Shoulder Scotch that had him relaxing while we fished.  Lake Fork is a reservoir that is primarily a water supply for the city of Dallas.  As stated earlier, this area of Texas has had a lot of rain and the lake was full.  The comparison was to the severe drought they had a few years ago that put a real hurt on the bass populations.  The guide stated that in the summer when the temperature hits 100 everyday, the lake loses about 2 inches a day via evaporation.  Of course if you add that to any draw downs to feed Dallas, it can get pretty low.  This ear should be a great spawning year as the prime areas have plenty of water over them.  As well the Texas Fish and Game stock Florida Strain Bass in the lake, which grow to enormous bass (as compare to her in Minnesota)  The US record for Large Mouth Bass is 22 pounds 4 ounces caught in Lake Murray, Georgia and is known as the Florida strain.  We were in a Marina and they had a 25 pound bass that was found floating dead in Lake Fork and had a replica made of it, Uffda is all I can say. We stopped fishing around 12:30 and headed to the Oakridge Marina for lunch, which was pretty good.   Because I cannot eat bread I had their broiled catfish, absolutely delicious!  It was not too far from where we were fishing so it didn't take that long.  Also it was filled with other fisherman so that was kind of fun.  We fished till about 4:00, paid the guide and headed out.  It was a great experience and it might just inspire me to spend a little more time bass fishing this year.

One thing that was interesting, Brian, our guide asked me about Mille Lacs Lake.  Apparently it's
reputation for smallmouth bass had made it all the way to Texas.  Promising him if he came up, I'd take him out.  As stated earlier, I did buy some lures at the Lake Fork Trophy Tackle, in particular a bladed bass jig often referred to as a chatter bait, something seen before but never paid much attention.  The ones in the store were fairly heavy, had a rubber skirt and a Lake Fork Live Magic Shad rigged into the jig.  My thought is that this lure could be hot for smallies on the river behind the house in August.  It is heavy enough to sink quite fast in the river and apparently one retrieves it like a spinner bait.  Because crayfish and minnows make up the majority of what they eat in the river, I bought the orange tinted ones, similar to the color crank baits I always have good luck with. the problem is that it will be 5 months before we get to try them...oh well.  Before leaving for Texas, we got all of our Team Walleye hats and hooded sweatshirts on order, so that's done.  Minnesota Fishing opener is 9 weeks away and the Canadian opener is the following weekend, 10 weeks away.  There is a lot to do before then as we still have quite a bit of snow on the ground.  Temperatures are going to be in the 50's next week so that should take care of that.  Next week I will write about our second day of fishing on my friend Joe's farm.  Up north we call them ponds, down there he calls them tanks.  Either way stay tuned!


Jeremy B said...

Chatterbaits work great for smallies around rock when the water is cold, or if they're up shallow. I'm sure they'd work in the river too.

Dave Anderson said...

Jeremy, That's what I am hoping for, time will tell!