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!
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.