Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Lake Fork Expectations

Hey all! I would like to apologize for my absence lately!  I recently just returned from the great state of Texas. It's actually what this article is about...just to clarify I didn't catch a PB, I didn't see an armadillo, and I didn't have the best steak of my life...so don't expect any of that!

Biggest fish I caught at Lake Fork


So many trees!
Picture by: popeslanding.com
The reason for my visit to Texas was for the Yak4It Tournament of Champions, which I qualified for through the Kayak Bass League Championship.  It was an honor to attend this elite event, and I was very excited to visit Texas for the first time.  More importantly I was going to have the honor to fish one of the best bass lakes in the nation, Lake Fork.  No matter where you live in the nation, I guarantee you have heard of Lake Fork.  It has been at the top bass lakes for years.  It has produced multiple bass over 15lbs and continually produces double digits on a weekly basis.  While continually reading all of these stats about how great Lake Fork is, one can only start thinking of all the possibilities of 20+inch fish!  Needless to say, I was super excited and could not wait to get down there!  The plan was to leave Wednesday afternoon, get there by midnight, and have 4 whole days to fish.  Plenty of time time to find the big ones one would think right?...well not so easy...

Finally found some grass!
The first day of prefishing was like trying to find a needle in a haystack.  The lake consists of almost 28,000 acres of water with over 315 miles of shoreline, no small task for a kayak.  Additionally Lake Fork is FILLED with timber, since this lake was not cleared of standing timber before it was filled.  This creates a large lake with an obscene amount of structure, making it very difficult.  The first day I covered several miles of water only managing 3 bass.  The biggest of which was right around 17.25 inches and the other two around 12 inches.  This is not what I expected from the magnificent Lake Fork!  I needed to make a change and quick!  I decided to break it down into two elements, water depth and cover.  Since the lake was covered in standing timber and not enough time to find key areas I decided to find some form of vegetation.  This would more than likely give isolated targets for fish to hold to...at least so I thought.  Next is water depth, if I haven't mentioned Lake Fork is massive! Massive lake means massive waves.  Even though I had heard rumors of fish being caught deep, I knew i would not be able to hold position over there fish plus the several mile paddle one way was daunting to say the least. I decided I would be able to break down and fish more shallow water areas to a much greater extent than deep water, also I am much more comfortable and have a lot more confidence in shallow water.  Additionally, I knew if I could just get a limit both days I would be in good shape.  This helped me narrow down my fishing to shallow, weedy creek arms.  Another tricky factor is finding a certified boat that is accredited by Yak4It to launch that was close enough to allow efficient time management throughout the tournament.

Day two, I started prefishing my new area to see its potential.  After catching a few fish over 14 inches (limit size for this tournament) I continued my exploration for more areas, to no success.  after two days of prefishing I had built up two solid areas that was gonna have to supply me with 10 fish over 14 inches for the next two days.
There are plenty of dinks in Texas

As the next two days began to unfold, I did not catch a limit either day.  Although I did manage to catch 3 keepers each day, including two 18s and a 16.5 inch fish.  I was very thankful for these fish as it was a grind out there with many anglers unable to bring Amy fish inl.  I ended up with 95.25 inches for the two tournament days.  This tied me for 19th place out of 125 anglers.  I was very excited for this tournament and absolutely stunned by my finish.  All of this was made possible due to breaking down the water.  If I hadn't broke the water down into depth and structure type, I might have never been able to find fish.  Once I was able to target these specific areas it allowed me narrow down water and begin to get the full picture of the bass's patterning.  I did this by fishing to my strengths. I made the crucial decision to fish what I knew how to fish, rather than chasing dock talk. This is a must in a lot of tournaments, epescially on unfamiliar water. Dont't just do what others are doing. Blaze your own trail to find the bite that a lot of other anglers are overlooking. A lot of times tournaments are won like this and you end up having the area all to yourself, allowing you to pick apart areas and manage fish to your pleasing.

This thing raced past hobies!
While Lake Fork was not what I had envisioned I still had a magnificent time.  It was also great to see and fish a new state for the first time, working in fishing in ever state in the U.S.  Also minor achievement of the weekend...I did out-paddle a hobie PA12 to a spot...now that's some serious speed! Next time you are out try holding 4.5-5 mph for over a mile...the Jackson Kilroy LT does it like a dream!

I also would like to congratulate all the anglers who qualified and participated in the Tournament of Champions, regardless of how they did.  It was awesome to meet a ton of great people who all love to fish just as much as I do!  If you wanna see the full results click here.


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