Friday, December 7, 2012

week of December 3, 2012

Oh  my.  Bass fishing in December.  Yes the weather was supposed to be very nice for 3 days but it was really only for one day, Tuesday.  Temperatures in the mid 70's, light winds, plenty of sunshine, and hungry  fish made for a great last trip of the year.  A cold front came through about 10:30 am but the winds didn't get too nasty til around 2 pm.  I fished with Dale until 3 pm and we boated 30 bass up to 5 and a half pounds.  My biggest was about 4 pounds. It seemed like almost every place we hit had a few fish and that made for a fun day on the lake.  Every fish I caught came on a Carolina rig with a fluke. I even caught a clam shell.  Hah!  Unfortunately it was a slot clam so I had to throw it back.
After a short stop I went out again with Rhandy and we stayed until dark about 6 pm.  We boated another 5 fish before the wind and the dropping temperatures sent us in for beer.

After dinner I found an unwanted shower guest and flushed him out to sea to feed the fishes.  That's the first bug I have ever seen at Hook Line and Sinker, but I will sure be keeping my shoes on a chair from now on!
The sign at the Minnow Bucket said 51 degrees when we headed out at 7 am the next morning.  That plus a stiff breeze around 10-20 made it downright nippy.  The weather forecast had called for 5 mph winds and a high of 67 but I don't think it cracked 60 til well after noon.  I do NOT like cold weather but it did not seem to bother the fish too bad.  Dale had to hunt a little harder but we found another 17 fish and most were bigger than what we saw Tuesday.  They seemed to be hugging the bottom and would hit at the fluke but wouldn't bite it until you reeled up fast.  So I did!  My biggest was around 5 pounds off a road bed around 20 feet.  Fun catching, even if it was cold.
Once again I headed out with Rhandy about 3 pm and we tried chasing some schooling fish.  We caught a couple of dinks on rat L Traps but they never stayed up for long.  After that we headed over to SRA where we saw several nice bald eagles.  I saw a lot of them this trip both flying around and sitting in trees.  We caught a couple more nice fish, including one drive by bass that flipped near us and bit my Carolina Rig as I reeled through.  Fun stuff.  Also a gorgeous sunset that was worth more than a few pictures.

Plans to fish Thursday were derailed by Dale's cows and the cold weather so that will have to conclude my bass fishing for 2012.  Of course Dale was nice enough to call me later and tell me someone caught a 11.86 pound bass on Thursday near where we were fishing.  To get even I will eat pork for awhile and no beef!

Spring will be here soon and I'll be staying in my nice warm house til then.  In the meantime, grow you fishes, grow!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Week of November 18, 2012

A spate of beautiful fall weather and the arrival of my wife's relatives for Thanksgiving spurred me to Lake Fork once more for 2 and a half days with Dale and Rhandy.  I fished 2 full days and a morning with Dale and 2 half evenings with Rhandy.  The weather was a bit cool for me in the mornings, lows around 50, but things warmed quickly in the afternoon and I was back in short sleeves with a need for sunscreen.  Winds were very light and that helped a lot.  I think Tuesday topped out at about 75 degrees, which was just perfect. 

The biggest fish we saw this trip was around 4 pounds so no big fish stories.  We saw a few schooling fish, but never really got them to bite.  They never stayed up very long either.  I did hook one good fish with Rhandy but it got off, somehow, after I swung hard and thought I had him jammed.  It left one big scale on the hook and that was that.  Things were mostly average to slow with almost every fish under 2 pounds.  They were still fun to catch.  I even foul hooked a catfish in the tail with an excaliber.  That was interesting!  I think our totals for Monday were 12, 18 on Tuesday, and 8 Wednesday morning. 

We used just about every technique except buzz baits and spinner baits.   As usual, carolina rigs with flukes were the best producer.  We caught a few on crankbaits and rat-L-traps.  Spoons weren't happening, though we gave them a go several times. We even messed with shakey heads, wacky worms, and jigs, with nothing to show.

My favorite part of this trip was the beautiful weather, catching a fish every now and then, and enjoying the fall scenery at Lake Fork.  The trees are starting to turn and we saw a bobcat chasing ducks.  We also saw several bald eagles.  Plus the usual amazing sunrises and sunsets. I shall return, as soon as I can!

 Oh, and the Minnow Bucket is still closed, but the sign tells the tale!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

week of October 21, 2012

Wow, what an outstanding trip this was.  Not many cool photos to share, but one amazing fish story.  You may not believe any of it, but it is all true.  I was there.

I started out Sunday with a 4 hour evening trip with Rhandy Simmons.  We headed over to Bell Branch and started out with Carolina rigs.  I think we caught one, before switching to DD-22s and working our way back in the branch.  No bite, but we did see a beautiful bald eagle soaring around.  On the way out, I grabbed a silver and blue rat-L-trap, pitched it shallow and immediately hooked a dink bass.  Two more casts and two more dinks.  Then the side fell off the reel and the spool fell in the lake!  Rhandy had this little Shimano reel with a release button on the side and I had somehow punched it while holding the rod. Rhandy claimed operator error, I claim poor design.    Well, after retrieving the spool by pulling all the line off, we were back in business and caught a few more dinks.  All good fun but nothing worth taking a picture.  Afterwards we headed out on the main lake to secret spot #47 where we caught several small bass up to 3 pounds on a big Texas rigged worm.  We quit about 8 pm and headed in to drink much beer.

I was up early meeting Dale Stokes at the Minnow Bucket at 7 am.  The Minnow Bucket is currently closed as the previous "owner" has R-U-N-N-O-F-T (as they said in that movie, Oh Brother Where Art Thou).  Martin and family are waiting for legal stuff before they can get in and re-open, but it is dark for now.  Anyhoo, Dale and I set out for 8 hours of very tough fishing.  I think I had 3 bites all day and Dale had 9.  He landed 7 bass and I was skunked.  Of the fish Dale caught, several had problems.  One was blind in one eye, another had only half a mouth left, another had those big sores on its side.  I teased him about picking on crippled fish and said I was holding out for healthy ones.  Towards the end of the day, we caught a few little bar fish on tail kickers.  Dale was more worried about it than I was.  Sometimes you just get the stink on you and it was just my turn.  I said something to Dale about Lake Fork often rewarding you later for a tough day on the lake.  That proved to be prophetic.

I went back to the room about 3 pm for about an hour before meeting Rhandy for another 4 hour half evening trip.  We left about 4 pm and headed to Little Boy point where we tried some Carolina rigs with little luck. Once again I picked up that silver and blue rat-L-trap and quickly hooked a small bass.  Yay!  The stink was off!  Rhandy graphed around awhile and found tons of fish but we never could get them to bite.  He decided they might come up to school later but decided to head to S.R.A. point for 30 minutes or so before coming back.

At S.R.A. we hung around about 30 minutes and caught a few small fish at the sandy point near the old water intake.  Then I looked over at the main S.R.A. point and saw two gulls hitting the water grabbing shad.  I told Rhandy, "Hey, they're schooling over there," and off we went to chase them.  Now this is where it gets unbelievable.  This was at about 5:30 pm.  Those fish stayed up schooling for one and a half hours and we caught fish on almost every single cast.  It was insane!  Rhandy said he had not seen schooling like that on Fork in over 15 years.  They would go down on one side of the boat, then come back up on the other, or 50 yards away.  We just chased them down and kept catching.  The ratio was about 2/3 bass to 1/3 sand bass.  The bass were small.  Most were under 14 inches.  Some were 14-16 inches and a few were small slot fish, up to about 3 pounds.  The bass were beautiful dark black and green fish with huge guts from eating lots of shad.  I used that silver and blue rat-L-trap, Rhandy jumped around between topwaters and crankbaits with the best result coming on the same bait I had.  The water was so full of bait and fish that he foul hooked a shad with a topwater lure.  I got a picture of that!
The sand bass were huge.  Mostly between 2 and 3 pounds and they hit like freight trains.  It literally took us longer to get the fish off the treble hooks than it did to cast back out and hook another fish.  The action was that crazy.  The birds were swooping all around us squawking and hitting the water.  At one point I looked up and a seagull was carrying off Rhandy's rat-L-trap, flying around with his line hanging in the air.  Rhandy was cussing the bird and popping his rod trying to get it loose.  He didn't want to reel it in, and he didn't want to hurt the bird if it was hooked.  The bird starts to fly around the boat.  I have on about a 2 pound bass at maximum cast range and I'm reeling and laughing my ass off.  Rhandy finally gives it a big yank and the rat-L-trap and those 6 sharp hooks come flying at my head.  The bird gives out a squawk, I duck, still laughing my ass off, and reeling in my bass.  If I had that on video people still wouldn't believe it.  One of the funniest things I have ever seen on the water.

I have no idea how many fish we caught.  It was, easily, well over 100 fish.  At one point half way through I started counting doubles (times when both Rhandy and I had a fish on simultaneously).  I was up to 14 when I lost count.  So that's 28 fish right there.  We caught many many more that were never counted because the action was just too intense.  I think combined we probably had somewhere around 125-150 fish.  I wish I had gotten my camera out, hit video mode, and taped some of that.  It never crossed my mind because I was too busy chunking, winding, and getting hooks out of fish.  At 7 pm the action stopped like flipping a switch.  We never made it back to Little Boy!  Once again, much beer was consumed afterwards.

The next morning I headed out again with Dale.  We hit a bunch of great spots but fishing was still tough.  I opined that they are mostly feeding in the evenings, then laying around in a stupor all day.  That made as much sense as anything else.  I did catch a few bass but our numbers were still low.  I think we ended up with 8 for the day.  We did stop at S.R.A. point for a bit and saw two more beautiful bald eagles, but no fish.  Dale talked with another guide who stayed out longer than we did, with 2 customers, and they only caught 7.  Dale did his job.  We covered a lot of great water and tried a variety of techniques.  The fish just weren't playing.  For whatever reason, I think they are on an evening feed right now and during the day you are just screwed.

Tuesday evening Rhandy and I hoped for a repeat of the Monday night madness.  We went straight to S.R.A. and sat there waiting for the action.  This time we were prepared.  Rhandy brought his crappie clicker to count the fish.  I set my camera on movie mode.  We had several rods rigged with silver and blue rat-L-traps.  It just never materialized.  Oh, they did school a bit but they were spread out all the way from S.R.A. to a mile or so north down the bank.  They never stayed up very long when they did come up.  We tried chasing them, but never had much success.  On the main S.R.A. point we caught 11 bass, 4 on the pond dam south, and 20 huge sand bass further north along the shore.  The green fish were still small, up to about 3 pounds.  It was interesting that they were mixed schools on Monday, but seemed to be split on Tuesday evening.  We didn't catch any birds at all.  I got a bit of video of the sand bass schooling, but punching that record button meant Rhandy couldn't catch a cold.  Whenever I turned it off, he immediately caught a fish.  Too funny.
Look at how beat up this poor rat-L-trap was.
Wednesday I went out with Dale half a day in the morning.  We tried some Carolina rigs early, then switched to swim baits under the 515 and 154 bridges, hoping to snag a gorilla.  It never happened but we had fun trying.  

Thursday, October 18, 2012

week of October 15, 2012

Couldn't stand it so I was out at Fork again this week.  I spent two and a half days with Dale and one half evening with Rhandy.  The first two days the real problem was weather.  Tuesday was about 15 degrees colder than the weather doofuses had forecast, plus a stiff 15-20 mph breeze.  It was chillier than I was prepared for, but we did catch some fish.  I think we ended up with 12 for the day but I think Dale caught more than half of those.  My biggest was about 4 and a half pounds on a fluke with a Carolina rig.  We tried some spoons and crank baits, but never had any big success with them.

Wednesday the wind howled out of the south most of the day between 20 and 30 mph.  Lesser men would have stayed in, but Dale had a good plan and we actually caught more fish than Tuesday.  We put in over in Chaney Branch, on the south side of the lake, and hung around the southwest corner of the lake, which probably had the best wind break.  We still had to tie up to stumps most of the day, but we found some good spots and had some fun.  We even had some schooling fish come by early and we caught bass and sand bass at about a ratio of 1:3 on deep crank baits.  I even caught a drum on a fluke.  We didn't use much gas, but we ended up with 14 fish for the day with the biggest at about 4 pounds.

After about an hour off Rhandy came by and we also headed over to the SW corner of the lake to put in over at Wes's ramp in Leafy Branch.  The winds had died down a bit, so we headed over to one of Rhandy's favorite spots and he caught two fish on his first two casts.  The first one went around 6 pounds.  After that, they shut off big time.  We eventually motored over to another spot and I had a big fish break me off.  It was stripping off drag from the get go and broke me off right above the hook.  I'll get him later, and his little dog, too!  I caught a small one on the next cast, then again, nada.  About 6 pm the front came through and the wind picked up out of the north.  We tried a deep spot, and almost got thrown from the boat by 3 foot rollers.  That was a short stay.  So we headed back to Leafy Branch and threw crank baits back into the pocket
with no joy.  I finally called beer thirty about 30 minutes after dark and we drowned our troubles in Murphy's Stout.

Thursday was much cooler but the wind had slacked off at last.  Unfortunately, the fish had slacked off, too.  I think Dale had 2 bass for the morning and we both caught a few bar fish and sandies throwing spoons on a deep road bed.  Nice weather, no bite, 30 mph winds 14 fish.  Hmmm.  Too bad I like my comfort.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

week of October 1, 2012

Booked two and a half days with Dale Stokes this week and one and a half days with Rhandy Simmons.  I fished Monday, Wednesday, and a half day Thursday with Dale, then a full day Tuesday and an evening Wednesday with Rhandy. Overall, it seems the fall bite is not quite on just yet.  The fall lake turnover seems to be finishing up but is not yet done.  We seemed to find most of our fish in the 15 foot range in creek channels and at shelf breaks and humps.  I think the totals were 7 on Monday, 10 on Tuesday, 8 on Wednesday (in 12 hours of fishing), and 8 on Thursday morning (in just 4 hours of fishing).  Most of our fish came on flukes with Carolina rigs or crankbaits.  Rhandy caught the biggest fish I saw this trip at around 6 pounds.  My biggest was about 5 and a half pounds and came on a DD-22.   The bite seemed to pick up Thursday morning.  Of course!  I was leaving!

Rhandy has sold his "go-fast" boat and downsized to a newer and smaller boat that caught fish without all the gas guzzling.  It rides nice.
The bugs came out in swarms around dusk.  I took this photo over my head with a flash.  Sounded like a buzz saw running.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

week of july 23, 2012

It had been way too long since I had been able to set a hook, over 2 months. This week I was able to schedule three nights of night fishing with Rhandy Simmons.  The weather forecast was for it to be a little bit cooler, no 100's, and a bit of wind and that proved to be just perfect.  There was enough wind we never had to put on our bug spray.  Just perfect night fishing weather!

The first night the fish were tough.  I only tried to set the hook once in 5 hours of fishing.  It seemed like the only bites I was getting were tap taps of bream on the tail of my big worm.  I never could get a fish to hold onto it.  The one swing I took there was no one home.  Rhandy hooked two fish, one wrapped him up and broke off, the other spit a crank bait out on the way to the boat.  That's right, we were skunked on night one after fishing some mighty fine holes and trying a variety of different techniques.

The second night was the same, only different.  It will forever be known as THE ONE BITE NIGHT.  We fished two hours without a single bite.  Zip, zero, nada, nothing.  We switched from flukes to spoons in deep water, pitched some crank baits, and again chased around trying deep and shallow holes that we KNOW are good.  Around dark, we switched to big black and blue Yum worms and started working around a shallow mid-lake hump.  After no joy up shallow we pulled off a bit and tied up.  Exactly at 9 pm, I pitched out behind the boat and felt a very tiny tap.  I lifted the rod tip, felt a fish, and swung for the rafters.  The fish made two strong runs, stripping off drag.  I caught up quickly both times only to have the fish hang up on something.  I held still and Rhandy moved to drop the rope so we could go try to get the fish.  Just as he reached for it, the fish swam off whatever it was hung on and came up and wallowed at the end of my line.  In the dusky light I couldn't see it real well, but I shouted to Rhandy, "It's off, it's off, GET THE NET!"   There was timber all around us so I started reeling and pulling like crazy trying to keep the fish from running for another hang-up.  As it came to the boat it left a wake that looked like an incoming torpedo.  It came straight into Rhandy's waiting net without even a splash.

When Rhandy picked up the net he yelled "That fish is HUGE!  That's a bonus fish!"  Referring to the fact I pay my guides a bonus for any fish over 8 pounds.  I reached in the net and grabbed the fish and popped the hook out easily.  Rhandy grabbed his scale and as we waited for it to zero out, I guessed 10.5 lbs, Rhandy said "12 lbs, easy."  The scales evened out at 11 pounds 5 ounces, right about in the middle of our guesses.  A new personal best for me and my second double digit bass of 2012.  After a few quick photos we sent her on her way to someday give someone else a thrill.

After the excitement died down, I laughed and said "What if we don't get another bite all night long?  At least we got the right bite!"  Sure enough.  We fished til 11:30 pm and did not have another single bite.  So goes the legend of The One Bite Night!

Wednesday night we headed out about 7 pm again.  We noticed we were the only trailer at the Minnow Bucket lot, only one trailer over at Oak Ridge, and none on the public ramp at 154.  I guess the word is out about the slow nights.  In fact Rhandy had talked to another guide who said he had cancelled some night trips due to the slow nights.  We were undeterred!  We poked around some more deep water holes before heading back to our "one bite spot' from the night before.  I caught a couple of small fish, one on a fluke, one on a worm.  I hooked another big fish, which I never saw but which was also stripping drag.  However that one was successful at getting wrapped up and sawing me off.  Drat.  We had a few more bites that evening but never boated another fish.

So, the moral of the story is, on Lake Fork you can fish for 3 nights, only boat 3 fish, and still come home with a new personal best and a great story.  I can't wait to go back!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Week of May 14, 2012

One of my guides, Rhandy Simmons, called me up and invited me out for 2 and a half days of "fun fishing" this week.  That means no guide charge so how could I say no to that?  Not only that, but he had a nice cabin with a spare bedroom so I had a free room, too.  He said the only things I needed to bring was a lot of beer and BBQ and that was no problem for me to do.   Since our "fun fishing" was to start on Tuesday morning, I called Dale Stokes for a regular guide day on Monday so I could get in that extra day. He was happy to oblige.

Monday started out a bit weird with Dale.  There were very few boats on the water.  We hit it early, 6 AM, and headed straight to Dale's favorite main lake point.  We boated 9 fish before 8:30 am, nothing big, so we went on to the next main point, which still had seen no boats.  Now that is unusual.  After fishing there awhile with no luck, we went along to a third main point, again with zero previous boat traffic on the side we fished.  I can't remember ever seeing those 3 points unoccupied the first 3 hours after daylight.  Ever.  There was very little boat traffic all day long.  That is about as deserted as I have seen Lake Fork. 

After we finished up on the main lake, still with 9 fish, we hit a bunch of great spots with little action until about 1 pm.  The wind slicked off about 11 am and it got pretty toasty in the sunshine, even though it was only in the middle 80's.  Dale finally found us another sweet spot around 1 pm on a deeper hump and we boated 5 more fish, nothing of size.  We ended up with 17 for the day and a fun day out on the water in nice weather.

I met up with Rhandy early Tuesday morning and we were off to check out some spots he hadn't fished in awhile.  He considered this "vacation" so we hit a few "good spots" and spent time running and checking other holes for future reference.  We pretty much one and two'd them all over the lake with the most fish, 4, coming off one small secondary point.  It is a place near a main ramp we have driven past a hundred times but I had never fished it.  Nice to know it holds a few.   We were not keeping good count (beer may have contributed to that) but I think we ended up with 12 or 15 fish for the day.  Big fish were around 4 or 5 pounds.  There was just enough action to make it a fun day, even though it got a bit warm when the wind died off at mid-day again.

We stayed at Leafy Branch cabin and put in and out of Wes's private ramp.  He has a very nice comfy 2 bedroom cabin with full kitchen, all utensils, 2 TVs, and all the amenities.  One of the best parts is the front porch with rockers which looks out over Leafy Branch and out towards Dale Hump where you can watch the lake.  They were having some dead trees cut out the yard but it was still full of song birds chasing around.  We even had a hummingbird stop by.  Wes said it was the first of the season.  Much beer was swilled, much BBQ was consumed, and at least a few lies were heard.  Plans to re-emerge for evening fishing were overruled by too much beer and BBQ.

Wednesday we trucked around and put in at the Minnow Bucket to check out some spots up in the northeast branch near Running Creek.  Rhandy caught one about 6 lbs and one smaller one.  I did not have a single bite til 10:30 am but that bite was worth the wait.  I was sitting still with a carolina rig with a fluke on it.  All of a sudden, WHAM, a fish grabbed that fluke and drag started peeling off line.  I set the hook and had a nice fight with an almost 8 pound fish.  It weighed out at 7 pounds 15 ounces.  Awhile later I caught another that went around 6 pounds.



We had a few more at that same spot before the wind slicked off yet again and it started to get hot.  This time, Rhandy had a plan to try some crappie fishing under the 154 bridge to cool off.  We tried it, I caught ONE small 9 inch crappie, and that was it.  Plans to head up to the 515 bridge got nixed when a buddy of Rhandy's came by and said that was dead, too.  Oh well, time to get a siesta and this time really go out in the evening!

We emerged from air conditioned hibernation about 7 pm and Rhandy's girlfriend Brenda joined us on the expedition.  We found a nice deep water hole unattended so we set up shop and went to fishing.  We caught 3 small bass, one each, so everyone was happy.  Rhandy had hopes maybe the sandbass would go to schooling but they never did.  I guess it may be just a bit early for that wild action.  Brenda did catch another green fish, about 4 pounds, right at sunset.  We dropped her off at the bank and fished the underwater lights in Leafy Branch for awhile til the bugs got too annoying.  Rhandy caught a couple more small bass and I caught one sandbass.  That was enough to send us in for more BBQ and beer and a a night ending meat coma.

Thursday we headed out from Leafy Branch with plans to hit several old holes Rhandy had not fished in years.  It was not to be.  The lake was VERY busy with boats everywhere, probably folks pre-fishing for the Legends tourny at Fork this coming weekend.  Everywhere we planned to fish we found 3 or 4 boats.  We even went looking for deep schools of sandbass, figuring nobody would be bothering them.  We struck out on those, too.  They are always there when you do NOT want them, but can't be found when you DO want them.  That's fishing.  We ended up the half day with 2 small bass, even after fishing some great water.  However, it was definitely FUN FISHING!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Week of April 30, 2012

Got in a couple of days with Rhandy Simmons and 1 and a half days with Dale Stokes this past week.  The only time we really got on the fish was Monday morning about 7 am on a main lake point. The sandbass were schooling earlier and after they moved off we caught 10 bass, all around 3 pounds, in about an hour.  That was some fun fishing!  We also hooked a few big sandbass on flukes.  After that we hunt and pecked and one and two'd them the rest of the day for a total of 22 with nothing bigger than about 4 pounds.

Things were similar with Rhandy on Tuesday and Wednesday.  We hit a lot of great spots without so much as one bite and others with just a fish or two.  We even tried some deep water spots.  Everyone seems to be having a tough time figuring the fish out as they are not on their usual post spawn spring pattern.  It may be something to do with the lake rising over 5 feet earlier this year.  Who knows.  We caught 14 on Tuesday and another 16 on Wednesday, again nothing over about 4 pounds.  Rhandy did get broke off by what he thought was a nice fish but we never got to see it.

Thursday morning I put in a half day of crappie fishing with Dale and they were back in their usual spot under the 154 bridge.  We caught fish on every single piling we stopped at but the ratio of small fish to keepers was about 5:1.  We ended up with 24 nice crappie which Dale fileted for me while I hit the shower and checked out of my room.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

week of April 9th, 2012

Got in another 3 days this week and it was pretty spotty.  I fished Monday with Dale and did not have a single bite before 11:30 am.  We tried hard, went through the tackle box and techniques before we finally started catching some fish after noon.  Most of the fish we caught were dinks up shallow in 1-5 feet of water and most came on Texas rigged flukes.  We tried fishing a little deeper, in some GOOD spots, but no luck.  The biggest was only about 4 pounds so nothing worth a picture.  I think we ended up with a total of 11 and I probably had 4 of those.  We spent the day far north, even going into Running Creek for a bit. Did catch a sun dog (picture).

Tuesday Dale was booked so I went out bass fishing with Rhandy Simmons.  We started out in Alligator fishing shakey head worms and I caught 3 small bass and broke off another.  We switched over to Carolina rigs and moved around a lot and boated another 12 through the day.  We found a few fish in 18 feet of water and even hooked a couple of good ones.  Unfortunately, both my fish and Rhandy's shook their heads at the boat and spit the hook at us.  Mine was probably around 6 pounds, Rhandy's was at least 8, maybe 9 pounds.  I think our biggest fish of the day was around 4 pounds.  We did find a huge bed up in Alligator, but we never found the fish that went with it.  I'm sure the mattress was a Simmons Beautyrest.

Wednesday my buddy Randy Simms came out and we spent the day crappie fishing with Rhandy Simmons.  Crappie were as slow as I have ever seen them.  The 154 bridge was no sale, the 515 bridge was the same.  We found a few nice fish on timber between the two bridges but we only ended up with 16 keepers with 3 of us fishing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Week of March 26, 2012

I booked 2 and a half days with Dale Stokes this week and the weather was as good as it ever gets.  Lows in the 60's and highs in the low to mid 80's.  Winds were light except for Tuesday afternoon, when they were a bit blustery.  Nothing like what we have been through before, though.  The lake is now just 2 feet low.  It has come up over 5 and a half feet in the last month and is looking like the Lake Fork of old again.  It sure is nice to be able to run the boat lanes.

The main comment for this week was the fishing was SLOW!!  I caught 3 fish each day with only 5 to 7 bites a day.  Even the bites were a bit tentative, like they didn't really want to take the bait.  Tiny little taps with only a couple of bites where they really wanted it.  We saw a LOT of carp, crappie, and gar up shallow and I even hooked a 2 pound drum on a shakey head jig.  That was a first.  Might have been some crappie and carp pecking at my bait at times.

On Monday we had a few bites early and I caught one small bass dead sticking a fluke.  Then I had 4 straight hours with zero bites at all.  We fished wacky worms, shakey heads, flukes, all the usual suspects with no joy.  Finally I just decided to stick with a shakey head for the rest of the day and was quickly rewarded with a small tap about 1 pm.  I whanged on it and no fish.  Drat. 

We moved around a bit and I had another little tap at 2 pm.  This time I tightened up and lifted the rod tip to see if the fish was there.  Nope.  Felt the shakey head but no fish.  So it twitched it once and let it sit.  Another tap and a slight pull and I set the hook.  When I pulled back, the rod stopped dead at 10 o'clock and bent over double.  I saw this big mouth wallowing at the end of my line and knew I had a good fish.  She came to the boat no problem and when I saw it I thought it would go 8 or 9 pounds.  As Dale went to net it, the fish dove trying to go under the boat stripping off drag as it went.  I got my thumb on the spool and horsed it up and it made another dive for the prop and a stump near the back of the boat.  Again, I stopped the run and horsed her back towards Dale's net and she was in.  As I reached in the net to get the fish I saw the gut and knew I had a new personal best.  Dale's scale said 10.2 pounds and I don't doubt it.  My new personal best and my first double digit bass.  After a couple of quick pictures we sent her on her way and off she went to make more baby bass.  Woo hoo!  Now that's a nice reward for 4 hours with NO bites!
The next two days were anti-climactic after that fun.  We caught a few more small bass the next day and a half but they just were not biting very good at all.  Most of the other fish came dead sticking flukes with a few on shakey heads.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

March 12-15, 2012

After getting blown off the lake by high winds last week, I was happy to see this week's forecast was much improved.  Temperatures were forecast for the high 70's and winds in the 10-15 mph range.  Just about perfect weather.  I booked 3 and a half days with Dale Stokes and was convinced we would hang a gorilla or two.  Unfortunately, the weekend dumped almost 6 inches of cold 50 degree rain around Lake Fork and I think that had an effect.

The lake is up a bit more and is now just 4.5 feet low.  Just!  However that's a big improvement to the 7 feet plus it has been down lately.

We started out Monday fishing the main lake banks and I was convinced slow fishing a big jig was the way to go.  I didn't want to be bothered by little males and had dreams of hooking another 8 lb plus like I did a few weeks ago.  Nope.  After four straight hours of fishing that jig slow and steady, without even a single nibble, I just had to put it down.  Dale had switched to a shakey head and landed 3 fish and missed a couple of more before I made the change.  I still didn't get a bite til after noon and I think I ended up with a total of 3 small fish for the day.  Dale had 8.

Tuesday started out the same way, but I just stuck with the jig for an hour before giving up on it for the rest of the trip.  Things were even tougher on Tuesday as we tried different areas and different water depths looking for some active fish.  I totaled ONE, all day long, but it was about a 5 pound fish.  Dale had another 7 fish, none of them of size.

Wednesday we had a few more bites on a combination of shakey heads and wacky worms.  We stuck 4 fish that got off, don't know why, but it happened twice to me and twice to Dale.  Bites were so light that several fish were hooked swimming off with our worm.  Nothing of any size, again, but we had more bites and boated 11 fish.  We worked hard for those  fish!

Thursday morning was more of the same.  We pulled up on a new spot in Little Caney and I caught a little one on the second cast.  I had another bite on about the fourth cast, then nada. We hunted and pecked them for 4 hours with a grand total of 5.  Dale caught one decent female about 6 pounds, but that was it.  The rest were dinks.  Wackey worms, shakey heads, and dead sticking flukes was not the ticket.

35 fish over 3 and a half days is a tough slog for Fork.  However no one fell out of the boat, no one got a hook in the face, no props were bent (even when running into Little Caney!), the weather was very nice, and we each caught fish every day.  No skunks. 

Check out this interesting stump below.  Sticking up on two legs like it is walking.  When the water level comes back up you would never guess there is a fish umbrella there.  I can't wait to pitch a worm into that and try to get a fish out.