Lake Fork is in great shape right now, considering the amount of rainfall we've had. The lake level is back down to full-pool now, although it reached nearly two feet above that at its' highest point last week. Surprisingly, the water looks pretty good in most areas. The slightly stained water and flooded cover will provide much needed protection for our fish as the spawn continues.
We are ahead of schedule this year with water temperatures in the mid 60's, even on the South end of the lake. Some areas are getting above 70 degrees already! There are some fish on beds in nearly any creek or pocket on the lake, with more to come. There are even some post-spawn fish biting already.
So far, this week has been pretty good for big fish and numbers. I'm attempting to stay on bigger, prespawn fish as they move into spawning areas. Often, this means sacrificing quantity for quality, but some decent numbers can still be caught even when targeting big fish. The best bait so far has been a Smashtech Convict swimbait. It's a 7” weedless bait that can be presented in heavy cover without hanging up. It is responsible for most of the big fish pictured recently in my boat. The Convict is available at Oak Ridge Marina, or can be ordered on Smashtech's website. The key areas have been around the flooded brush and patches of grass. I'm focusing on areas close to spawning flats, these may be secondary or main lake points, shallow pond dams, or even straight stretches leading in.
At times, when the bite really slows down or there is no wind, I can hit shallow areas and cast a weightless soft plastic to pick up some numbers. I've been having best results with a rattlesnake or senko rigged wacky style on a weedless hook. The key is to find some areas with grass or flooded brush. Finding the right flooded cover takes some time, as most of the visible cover is very shallow. I'm doing better around the vegetation that is in 3 feet or more of water. Pockets on the main lake or in bigger creeks have been good. I think slowing way down has helped a lot. We catch most of these fish while the bait is sitting totally still for a few seconds.
Hopefully you'll find some of this information useful, whether you want to swing for the fences and get a big one, or play it safe and catch some numbers. The fish pictures below are from the past week. It's been great to see personal best records in the boat almost every day!