Thursday, October 9, 2014

Week of October 6, 2014

Fished 3 evenings with Rhandy and 3 days with Dale this week.  There were near record high temperatures in the 90s but a decent breeze made it fairly comfortable.

I met Rhandy Monday evening and we headed out to find some bass.  I got one decent bite on a Carolina rig but all our fish came on Rattletraps.  We started out on a grassy bank and caught 2 or 3 there and ended up on a main lake point where we caught another 7 or 8 bass and a ton of small sandbass.  A good start but nothing of any size.  I think the biggest bass we landed was less than 2 pounds.

Tuesday we started out at 7 am with Dale.  My buddy Christian joined us for the day's festivities and the morning and afternoon were pretty slow.  We moved around to a bunch of good spots but the fish were not in a cooperative mood, especially after the clouds burned off about 11 am.  Christian caught about a 2 pound sandbass on a Carolina rig but all the bass came on Excalibers.  They just didn't want a Carolina rig, which is strange for Fork.  Again, every fish was a dink.  I think we ended up with 5 bass and 2 jumped off.

We met up with Rhandy at 3 pm and headed back out after about a 10 minute break.  Rhandy had told me the previous day he was on some pretty good crappie on some brush piles.  We left it up to Christian whether he wanted to stay after bass or go for some crappie.  He chose crappie and he chose well.  We motored over to Rhandy's brush pile and in less than 2 hours we had 2 limits of crappie.  I think we had about 40 crappie at the first pile and finished up at a couple of others.  After that we headed back over to the main lake point to see if the bass and sandbass would move back in again.  Sure enough about 6:30 we had schooling action that started off with some great big sandbass.  As I started to chunk back a big one Rhandy suggested we just throw them in the live well since he was going to clean a bunch of crappie anyway.  I think we added 8-10 great big sandbass to the mess of crappie.  More good eating!  I don't think we really counted how many bass we caught as we caught many more little sandbass.  I'm guessing it was 10 or so, once again nothing of any size.  It was a lot of fun action, though, that continued to dark.

Christian had to head back to town but I met up with Dale on Wednesday morning.  We started off on a main lake point but this day started with tail kickers in deeper water.  Again we found a bunch of small sandbass and an occasional green fish.  I think Dale had one that went about 3 pounds but that was the big one for the day.  We motored around checking more good spots but I think our total was 6 bass for the day.  I recalled things worked a lot like this around this time last year and I think most of the feeding is going on in the evening.  Dale worked his butt off to put us on fish but they just were not playing.

We got back in about 3 pm and I stepped off of Dale's boat and onto Rhandy's for the evening fishing.  We headed right back to his main crappie hole and I caught crappie on 38 straight casts.  25 were keepers.  It took us less than 30 minutes to get a limit and Rhandy didn't even fish!  He just pulled them off my hook and measured while I threw back out for another fish.  That was fun.  After closing up the cooler we headed off for some bass.  The first spot we stopped was a bust so we motored around a little ways to another spot.  Rhandy caught 3 small bass on his first 3 casts.  I caught a few, too, and we ended up with 13 bass in that spot in about 40 minutes.  We also jumped off 3 and 2 better fish broke Rhandy off.  It was a hopping spot.  Then as suddenly as it started they were gone.  When they quit, they quit hard.  No worries, it was now time for some schooling action on the main lake point.  Or so we thought.  We caught one more bass and a few small sandies but the action was nothing like the previous 2 nights.  As we motored out we found them stacked up further out on the point in about 20 feet of water.  They just never made it in to shore.  It was too dark by then to wiggle treble hooks out of little sandbass so we just headed on in.  There was a really nice "sailor's delight" sunset.
Thursday morning I met Dale again at a little before 7 am and we decided to "go big or go home".  Dale has long been intrigued by the great big bass that make their home under the bridges, feeding off crappie and bar fish.  Anyone who has fished for crappie under the 515 or 154 bridges has had crappie stolen by great big bass or seen them chasing up a crappie on a hook.  We spent most of the day throwing great big swim baits around the bridge pilings hoping to get one of the big girls to bite.  Dale hooked one decent fish at a depth of about 2 feet while we were talking about maybe switching over to big flutter spoons.  We were chatting and BOOM, his rod bent over and he started fighting the fish with only about 3 feet of line out.  It was pretty funny.  I think it went around 7 pounds though Dale thought it might have been a bit less.  We didn't weigh it.  We also didn't switch to flutter spoons.
We kept working the bridge pilings and Dale had another good hit, but it missed.  We saw a few birds hitting the water at a nearby point and headed over to see if there was any schooling action.  I caught one small bass and couple of sandbass then that was over.  We headed back to the bridges til about 2 pm then went to another good spot and tried some Carolina rigs.  I had one good bite and Dale caught one about 3 pounds.  That was it for the day.
I headed back to my truck where Rhandy had filled my cooler with beautiful crappie filets and a few sandbass filets.  I shall be eating well for quite awhile and I will be back at amazing Lake Fork soon!  I just need to make some freezer room.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

week of July 28, 2014

Headed out this week for 3 evenings of night fishing with Rhandy Simmons this week and had the usual good time fishing, eating BBQ and drinking beer.  We started out Monday evening about 6 pm and stayed out til around 2 am.  We ended up with 13 on a combination of Carolina rigs with flukes, Texas rigged worms, and later with spinner baits.  Rhandy had the two biggest fish at around 5 and a half pounds each.
Tuesday we left a little earlier, around 5:30 pm, and headed back to the same spots that had been successful the night before.  The north wind was a little stiffer and we had to give up on one spot due to 30 mph winds knocking us around while we were tied up.  We ended up with 9 fish for the evening including a 6 pounder for Rhandy and a 7 pound 2 oz for me a little later in the evening on a Texas rigged worm.  After midnight we needed a jacket while running.  In JULY!  In Texas!!!  Who'd a thunk it?  It was a bit chilly.  Somewhere Al Gore is worried.
Wednesday was a whole different ballgame.  The wind shifted around and now was blowing 30 mph out of the southeast.  We hit the same spots, with the same techniques that had produced fish the last two days.  Nada.  Rhandy hooked 1 small bass but he wrapped up and he got off.  We saw him jumping near a stump but the line was wrapped up deep and Rhandy had to break off.  I had a total of 3 bites.  One was a stutter bite like a Bream but when I set the hook I only got the last half inch of my 10 inch worm back.  Probably a damned grinnel.  Too bad I missed that "rare treat".  The second bite I got was a good hit on a spinner bait, but no sale.  The last was about a 5 pound catfish, also on a spinner bait.  That was it in about 6 hours of fishing.  Most of the other spots Rhandy wanted to hit were not friendly due to the high winds.  It was even chillier Wednesday night and we had our jackets on by 10:30 pm.  On July 30th.  In Texas.   We eventually called it a night a couple of hours early and went in to heal our sorrows with much beer. 

I was starting to think my streak as the Lake Fork Rain God was finally over.  We only had  few drops on us Wednesday night.  However I was awakened about 4:30 Thursday morning with lots of thunder and a heavy downpour which continued until I checked out of the motel around 11 am.  I just need to figure out a way to get the locals to pay me to come fishing due to my "powers".

Sunday, June 22, 2014

week of June 16, 2014

Another 4 days on Lake Fork this week.  More boat troubles, more rain, more wind, and fewer fish than anyone wanted to see.  You pays your money and you takes your chances.  That said, I still had a good time and can't wait to go back for more.

I started out at sunrise with Dale on Monday and our 8 hours totaled 1 fish.  I think I had exactly 1 bite all day and it was not much of a bite.  We hit a bunch of great holes and tried a variety of techniques but we were just snake bit.  We variously blamed Obama and the Garmin survey boat but I think the blame lies squarely on those darned fish.
After a nice siesta I met up with Rhandy at 4:30 and off we went in search of more cooperative fish.  Rhandy had pre-fished a bit and found one point that worked well.  We caught 7 tiny bass and two about 3 pounds or so, one of which was a long skinny fish.  After the bites dried up on that point we moved around to several other spots but I never saw another bite, despite finding lots of pretty fish pictures on Rhandy's fancy graphs.  Rhandy caught one more small fish so we ended up with 10 for the evening.
Tuesday dawned with anticipation of a better day and Dale drove us up to the 515 east ramp to start our fishing up north.  We started out fishing frogs on lily pads up in Glade.  Dale caught one and I had a blow up but missed.
From there we moved around and ended up on one of Dale's favorite north lake points.  We caught a few before boat and equipment troubles interrupted our day, but I did manage to catch a couple including a nice 5 pounder.  Howling 20-30 mph winds were a real pain.
My siesta between Dale and Rhandy was interrupted by thunder and heavy rainfall outside.  Dang it!  This Lake Fork Rain God stuff is getting old!  Needless to say Rhandy and I did not get to go out Tuesday afternoon.  However we made due with some great BBQ, Rhandy's soon to be famous potato salad, and copious cans of beer.
Wednesday morning dawned with more hope and once again the fish mostly eluded us.
The wind layed down a bit, but we still managed to lose Dale's stump ring when some heavy gusts blew through.  We tried to retrieve it for awhile but eventually gave up and went back to fishing.  I bet by the next time I go back he'll either get it out or have a new one made.  We did catch a few fish and once again my best went around 5 pounds.  It was a tough slog, though, and we just couldn't get them to play our game.
My nap on Wednesday was uninterrupted by storms so I had good hope of getting out on the water with Rhandy at 4:30.  When I pulled up at his trailer I pointed to a shower off to the south and laughed about my "powers" once again.  Rhandy thought the squall was going to pass west of us so we loaded up and headed north to the point that had worked on Monday.  On our first cast, I looked back at the shower and saw lightning streak across the sky.  I immediately started reeling up and before I got my lure to the boat 2 more lightning bolts shot down.   Rhandy said "Nope we're going in".  I like it when we think alike on stuff like that.  If he hadn't called it I was about to.  Lightning is something I have no desire to mess with at all.  If you can see lightning or hear thunder, it is not safe.  Period.  We ran into his dock and tied up to see what was going to happen from the relative safety of shore. 
After a few minutes of checking radars Rhandy decided to put the boat on the trailer.  On his way down to the ramp Dale called to report he had seen the same thing we were.  Nice to have those extra eyes watching out for us.  Thanks Dale!  Rhandy put the boat back on the trailer and we sat around another hour or so, watching the radar and the storms on the horizon.  About 6 pm, we felt it was safe enough to give it another go and we launched again at the Minnow Bucket.  As we turned to head out, all we could see was dark sky to the south and the winds starting to whip up white caps near the dam.  Rhandy didn't like the way things looked so we called it a day and went in to eat much BBQ and drink much beer.  The fish will be there another day and because of smart guides, we will, too.  Good decision, Rhandy.

Thursday started a little different as we left the ramp about 8:30 am.  I had Dale start us a little later due to my buddy Scott's train arrival in Mineola for our east Texas BBQ trip.  We caught a few small fish but it was another tough day on the water.  We'll get 'em next time!
It is funny how spoiled we are fishing at Lake Fork.  I did catch two nice 5 pound fish and caught a few every single day.  Most bass fisherman never get the chance to catch two 5 pound bass on one trip.  We're just really spoiled and expect the 40 fish days and 8 pound fish to come every trip.  It is interesting to note that at the big Skeeter tournament the previous weekend over 2000 fisherman turned in just 28 fish over the slot in 3 days fishing.  That helps put things in perspective.  However at Lake Fork every single cast gives you the opportunity of catching the fish of a lifetime and there's not too many other lakes where that is possible.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

week of June 8, 2014

Spent 4 days at Lake Fork this week and managed to once again prove my title as the Lake Fork Rain God.  Monday I met Dale at 5 am and we watched lightning and heard thunder off to the west.  Things did not look good so we decided to postpone our start til the weather improved.  I went back to the motel and it rained off and on for over 4 hours.  I will fill that lake to the spillway yet!

Rhandy stopped by my room about 1 pm after it had finally cleared off.  He had just bought a new (used) boat and said we could head out about 2 pm.  Off we went and everything seemed to work fine with his new ride.  I think I only caught 1 fish, but we had a good time testing out his new equipment and checking out some good spots.  Unfortunately the rain returned and after a couple of starts and stops we decided to give it up for Monday.  It was just too wet and the fish were not cooperating.

Things started better with Dale at 5:15 Tuesday morning.  After a rare June cool front I needed a jacket and I kept it on all the way until 11 am.  Lower than normal temperatures and a stiff north wind kept it cool all day long.  We started off on deep water spots and boated 3 fish before switching to shallow water along windy points.  We found another 8 takers with the biggest being a 6.5 pounder Dale caught.  I had several in the 3-4 pound range and it was fun.

After a truly epic siesta, I met up with Rhandy at 4:30 pm and he had boat troubles right from the start.  Things went from bad to worse but we still ended up getting some fishing in and I even caught one!  Rhandy was very frustrated, but I'm sure he will get all the kinks out of that boat soon enough.  As frustrated as he was, he hooked a great big fish just before dark and it ran under the boat and got off.  He said it was the biggest fish he had hooked all year and maybe of his lifetime.  He never had control of the fish and it just went where it wanted.  Always good to get a reminder of what Fork is all about.  Especially when your boat is giving you fits. 

Wednesday I met up with Dale at 5:45 and we headed out with a cloudless sky and much warmer temperatures.  We hit a number of deep and shallow holes and found a total of 4 fish who agreed to play our game.  My biggest was about 5.5 lbs out of a deep water hole, early.  Note I still have my jacket on in June!  The last fish had swallowed a hook from an earlier breakoff and Dr. Dale performed the surgery to remove most of the leader line protruding through the poor fish's gills.  I ended up catching 2 on a shakey head in shallow water and 2 on a carolina rig in deeper water.
After many more boat repair adventures, Rhandy met me at 4:30 pm (following another good siesta).  Things worked smoother than Tuesday but there were still a few glitches.  His fancy new electronics works great at fish finding, but not so great at fish biting.  I had 3 decent bass around 4 pounds, all from the same deepwater hole.  We hit several more good spots but only caught a catfish.  Even when we found a screen covered up with fish we couldn't entice them to bite.
Thursday started ominous with more worries about weather.  After much discussion, Dale decided to risk it and hope we could get in half a day.  I caught 1 small fish but otherwise we did not get bit.  After about an hour and a half the wind shifted, cranked up, and the dark clouds started rolling in.  We fled as whitecaps started rolling across the lake and won the race to the ramp as dozens of other boats had the same idea.  As we pulled up to the shore the first lightning bolt streaked across the sky and that was all she wrote for Thursday.  I drove through some pretty good rain coming back to town.  Again, doing my part to fill Lake Fork!
 Finally, I just had to snap a photo of the computer mouse at Hook Line and Sinker.  Cracked me up. 

Friday, April 25, 2014

week of April 20, 2014

I went out for 3 and a half days this week with Dale and Rhandy.  As usual, I did full days with Dale, 6:30 am to 2:30 pm then half a day with Rhandy 3 pm to 7 or 7:30 pm.  Dale was booked Thursday so Rhandy and I saved that for a half day crappie trip.

On the way out Sunday night I drove through heavy rain and storms, proving once again that I am the Lake Fork Rain God!  I will fill that lake yet!

Dale and I headed out of Oak Ridge on Monday at 6:30 am and we were the first boat off the ramp there.  We had a slow day pitching wacky worms, dead sticking flukes, and other techniques around a number of quality spots at the south end of the lake.  We ended up with 5 fish for the day with Dale catching the one good one at about 7 pounds.  We didn't have many more bites than that 5 that we caught.  It was just slow.  I think I caught 2 of the 5 and both those were in the morning.
Things didn't improve a lot with Rhandy in the afternoon as we tried some more proven spots with Carolina rigs.  I did have one great bite where a fish just hammered my fluke, but somehow I missed him.   Dark clouds and oncoming rain ended our day at 7 pm and a heavy shower arrived after we had gotten inside for our BBQ and beer.  I am the Lake Fork Rain God!!!

Tuesday dawned with hope of better results and Dale and I headed off to new spots and switched to fishing lizards with a split shot in shallow water.  We had a few more bites and missed more fish than we did on Monday, but still only ended up with 6 fish for the day.  I had another whomper bite that broke me off when the fish tried to pull the rod out of my hand.  I sure wish I had gotten a look at that fish.  We saw lots of wildlife including a coon, banded water snakes, and a cotton mouth.
Rhandy and I headed back to our Monday spot and found some rat finks already fishing there.  We fished a tree line nearby and Rhandy caught a couple of small ones.  The finks were catching on our spot, so we eventually headed elsewhere.  The wind slicked off and it got really warm there for the rest of the afternoon.  Rhandy ended up with 5 fish for the afternoon but I never got a single bite.  Drat!  Not from a lack of trying, and we were on some very good spots.  Both Rhandy and Dale were very frustrated by this point, but it never really bothers me as much as it bothers them.  I have caught lots of nice fish with each of them and and I know that's just how it goes sometimes.  I keep telling them not to fret about it, but they do anyway.

Wednesday Dale told me we were going to switch up tactics and try to find a big fish.  We switched to big senkos and started out pitching at timber and the edge of some nice grass back in a pocket.  We caught a few small ones and missed a few.  One of them had some cool black spots, even on its tongue.  We kept at it through the day, switching to Carolina rigs for a bit, but only ended up with 7 for the day.  We did see a nice bald eagle along one bank.

Rhandy and I started out south of the 154 bridge but later moved to a spot we had fished the previous day with no success.  We never got a bite there Tuesday, but shortly after pulling up my fluke got hammered by a 6 pound bass that fought like he was a 10 pounder.  That was fun!  After that I think I caught 2 more there, both with savage bites.  The only thing different was there was a slight south wind.  It's all about being in the right place at the right time and we were on Wednesday.
Thursday morning Rhandy and I trucked over to Lake Cypress Springs to try again at crappie.  Rhandy had heard reports they were finally biting over there, but they were not on this day.  We spent a couple of hours under the bridge, hit some brush piles, tried some shallow water along retaining walls, and only ended up with 4 crappie.  Rhandy caught all of them, but I did catch one small Kentucky bass.  They are bound to turn on there any day now, just not when I'm there!  We went back to Rhandy's place where he cleaned up those 4 crappie for me with Bud's assistance.  I'll be back for more soon.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

week of March 31, 2014

Finally!  After a much colder than normal start to the year, things finally warmed up enough for me to get out on the water for my first trip of 2014.  I booked 2 days with Dale, afternoons and 1 full day with Rhandy, plus a half day on Thursday.  Dale had one of his big trips out late in the week so Hook Line and Sinker was full up on Wednesday and Thursday.  I moved down the street to the Trophy Lodge and was comfy there for all 4 nights.

Monday started out windy so Dale headed us across the lake to a pocket on the south end of the east arm.  We started on the outside edge of that pocket and stayed in there all day long.  Didn't do too bad, either.  We ended up with 9 fish between us, nothing big, but enough bites to make for a fun day.  I thought I had a good one when I snagged a turtle on the leg.  Not much of a fight but it sure felt heavy.  For a couple of years I had suggested we spend one day just tying up in a good spot and staying there all day long.  This was pretty close to that and I enjoyed it.  Certainly more fun than getting beat up fighting the waves while running all over the lake.  I actually caught a bass on my very first cast of the year.  Experience tells me that is almost as bad a sign as winning the first hand in a poker game.

We went in about 3 pm and I headed right back out again with Rhandy.  The winds had dropped a bit so we spent the rest of the day hitting main lake points and secondary points on the outside of pockets.  Again we ended up with 9 fish, nothing of size, but enough bites to make it fun.  I called beer-thirty a little before sunset at 7:30 pm when I caught my last fish.  Not bad to catch a bass on my first and last cast of the day.

Our big adventure of the afternoon was the weather.  Skies were darkening a bit as we went out so we decided to stick close to the ramp and see what happened.  The darkest clouds passed on by so we headed across the lake to fish points.  We had been there 45 minutes or an hour when we heard a boom of thunder directly overhead.  A small thunderhead had built up right on top of us.  We immediately started reeling up and when I laid the rod down I got a good static electric shock.  I had one more rod to move and when I sat that one down I got a second shock.  Not good!  Static electricity is a warning of a possible lightning strike, and SOON.  We got locked down and Rhandy floored it across the lake to the ramp where we sat til the small shower passed by.  He took a risk gunning it through the stumps, but it was the better risk to take versus a lightning strike.  That's something I hope I don't experience again. 

Tuesday the weather was much better with much lighter winds.  Dale took us around to a number of great spots but the fish just were not cooperating.  We ended up with 6 for the day, nothing of size.  Dale hooked one pretty good fish but it got off and we never saw it.  It had him doubled up pretty good.

Once again we went in about 3 and I headed back out again with Rhandy shortly thereafter.  Since the weather was no longer an issue, Rhandy turned north and we headed all the way up to Running Creek.  We found water temperatures up to 73 degrees up there and that usually makes for good fishing.  Rhandy started us out in the creek channels but we only got one bite.  That bite was a 2 pound crappie that ate Rhandy's worm.   Eventually we moved shallow and we could see and hear lots of bass spawning right on the bank. Nothing big, but there were lots of fins, tails, and splashing going on all along the bank.  I caught one on a Texas rigged fluke, even thought it wrapped me up on 4 different stumps on the way to the boat.  We hooked several more but they either got off or wrapped us up before we could land them.  We might have been better off fishing from the bank there.  There are just too many stumps up there.  We headed back at dusk.

Rhandy took us out a bit later on Wednesday, about 8 am, and we spent the whole day hitting different spots and trying different techniques trying to make the fish happy.  They were having none of it.  I caught one all day.  After 9 hours on the water I called beer-thirty and we went in to drink away our troubles.  They just were not playing our game.

Thursday we decided to head to Lake Cypress Springs for some crappie fishing.  Rhandy had been doing well in previous weeks, but our bad luck continued.  I caught 1 small Kentucky bass and a little crappie that jumped off at the boat.  Rhandy caught 2 big crappie on a brush pile, but those were the only bites we had.  We blamed Obama.   Rhandy made me 4 nice filets with the help of his supervisor, Bud.

Perhaps the best explanation I have heard for the tough fishing was that we were fishing February water in April.  The cold and late winter we have had has water temperatures running well behind where they should be this time of year.  With the exception of the very shallow water up in Running Creek, most of the water temps we were seeing on the main lake were still in the 50's.  Hopefully by the time I get back later this month things will have warmed up a bit.