In Retrospect: My Thoughts as a Guide

Walking over the giant cracks where the muddy lake bottom dried in the scorching Texas sun was a hot challenge when I was a kid. The shallow sloping banks of North Texas lakes provided plenty of smelly black dirt full of fish skeletons, mossy bottles, and old turtle shells.

The shore birds skittered along the banks picking at minnows and arguing with each other. A baby red ear turtle pokes its head out of the muddy water looking for a sunny spot to bask. Only months prior, fishers were catching fish, duck hunters were sitting in duck blinds in the very same spot where now the shore was dry. 

Hot and dry is what was expected along with spear grass, briars, chiggers, and mosquitoes. 

Being kids, we didn’t complain or even give our world a second thought, when it was too hot to fish, we jumped in the water and usually stayed there until the dinner bell. Many times my mom stripped me to my skivvies and hosed me down before allowing me into the house. Summers were supposed to be hot, and they still are, winters were sometimes cold and once in a while brutal for a couple of weeks. This was before 24 hr. weather and the internet; we just took each day as it came. 

Lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of whining and complaining about the fishing (catching) from Lake Fork. From, “It’s Dead” to “They ruined it” and “It’s gone forever”; in other words, the fish aren’t biting and it’s never the fisher's fault. 

With the exception of a few breaks over the years, I have consistently fished on this beautiful lake and now reside and guide here full-time. I’ve been through the droughts, floods, ice, and all that this crazy Texas weather throws at us. When I started fishing on Lake Fork the trees were so thick, we couldn’t see the shoreline, the leaves still sprouted out for several years and every tree looked like it had a giant bass living under it. 

The changes during the past 30 years have been stunning, the loss of vegetation, a fish die-off, frozen water, major and minor droughts, felled trees, and a human population explosion, all the while continuing to provide a great experience for most visitors. 

To be sure, Lake Fork may not be the same trophy bass factory it once was, and many theories abound as to why. Pressure on the fish, the age of the lake, loss of habitat, too many fishers, and not enough fish; and that’s just a start. Lake Fork sees its share of high-traffic days during the spring when everybody is a guide and fish on nests are easy to find. 

But possibly expectations are the biggest enemy on this awesome lake, people call me all winter and spring wanting to book a flyfishing adventure that includes a 10 lb. bass, whoa I say, there are no guarantees about big fish; “I fished there in the ’90s and caught 6 and 8 lb. fish all day long” they tell me,’ yeah well I don’t have a time machine so you’ll have to fish for the 2020’s fish’. 

Plenty of huge bass are caught in Like Fork all year long but remember, when Lake Fork opened the state record for a black bass was 8.5 lbs. Lake Fork changed expectations for all future fishing in Texas and the country, big fish were the norm, and everyone wanted to get one.  

It should be expected that when a body of water recedes for an extended period, it will not come back the same. Flooded trees fall from exposure to the dry air, water plants such as duckweed and lily pads disappear at least temporarily, food sources normally at the water's edge have been forced away from the shoreline, and last year’s spawning areas are high and dry; all this means that the fish and the fishers change their habits and habitats at least for the foreseeable future.  

Much like many of my fellow fishers, I was so excited with the recent rise to “Full Pool” after a nearly 2-year low water event, I allowed my excitement to fool me into past expectations. Every time it rains, I’m ready for some of that pre-drought bite, but it hasn’t worked out that way. The bites are slow and for the most part, the fish are small. There is very little “green” structure, and man it’s hot. 

 In retrospect, I know from past experiences, that it will take our great lake at least a few years to regain a portion of its past glory. The managing authorities are working hard to revive the plant life and so far, mother nature is doing her part too. As always though, the wait will be worth it as each year things will improve, and each season will bring more growth as well as challenges. 

So, be patient my friends, Lake Fork is still awesome and it’s only going to get better from here.  

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Lake Fork Current Weather Alerts

There are no active watches, warnings or advisories.


Lake Fork Weather Forecast


Partly Sunny

Hi: 89

Wednesday Night


Lo: 68



Hi: 90

Thursday Night


Lo: 68



Hi: 92

Friday Night


Lo: 69


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 94

Saturday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 73

Lake Fork Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 6/12: 403.36 (+0.36)

Lake Fork

Fishing Report from TPWD (Jun. 5)

GOOD. Water Stained; 76 degrees; 0.86 feet above pool. Lake Fork is high with all the recent rains and gates are open. Bass are good on top waters frogs early in the morning over grass, and Yellow Magics along the edge of the grass Texas rigs and Carolina rigs good around bream beds 3-7 feet. Squarebill crankbaits are good around bream beds 2.5 model bream patterns. Flukes are good on the edge of grass in watermelon candy . Report by Marc Mitchell, Lake Fork Guide Service. Black bass are challenging with constant weather extremes, look for the clearest water you can find. Fish points and main lake cuts. Top waters are working in the shallow grass, streamers are working in the shallow banks 0fished slow. Bream are excellent in the shallows, wooly buggers and small poppers should bring a strike. Report by Guide Alex Guthrie, Fly Fish Fork Guide Service. The crappie fishing on Lake Fork was definitely moving into the steady summer pattern this week. We are still seeing great numbers of black crappie on lay downs and certain trees in 14-28 feet. You can also find black crappie on certain docks and bridges over the next few months. We have been seeing lots of small white crappie on brush piles but some bigger keepers showed up the last few days. These will continue to get better and better over the next few weeks. Focus on brush piles in 14-22 feet for the best fish. Some summer time trees are also holding white crappie and that will also get better over the next few weeks. Minnows are working well and small hand tied jigs in neutral colors are working just as well when you pitch and swim them over fish. Soft plastics will also get you a bite. The channel catfishing is excellent as it always is on Lake Fork. Bait you a hole near timber in 18-25 feet close to a creek channel. Use cattle cubes or sour grain to attract and hold those fish. Trees that have overnight roosting birds are a great place to make your hole. Use any prepared catfish bait of choice to load the boat o

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