One Bite... One Bass

Fly Fishing in the wintertime for Black Bass

It’s wintertime, the weather is freaky and so are the bass. Deep, lethargic, and not very interested in eating. Black bass cop a bad attitude when the surface water reaches the low 50’s. So, after all the reels are cleaned, the fly line is treated, new flies tied and boat washed, the urge to get on the water begins to set in in a bad way. Yes, its trophy bass time, when one bite in considered a good day and one fish in the boat is a victory. Believe it or not, this starts in mid-January for most bass fishers.

Winter bass fishing in Texas can be extraordinary and often extraordinarily frustrating, so it’s a good idea to be realistic with a good plan and lots of patience. This is the time of year where a fisherman’s commitment is truly tested, especially fly fishermen.

Where to fish in winter is always important and understanding how to make the best guess includes what stage the fish are in.

Bass spend their lives in various stages of activity; pre-spawn (late winter), spawn(spring), post spawn (late spring-early summer), summer feeding patterns, and finally the fall/winter feed for pre-hibernation.

The one constant with wintertime is depth and speed, fish deep (at least 15’) and slow and when you think you’re fishing slow enough go slower, if you don’t see or feel structure it’s time to move.

Often, multiple fish species will suspend in deep pockets, creek bends, channels, and under old bridges.

Breaking down a reservoir into areas can be very helpful when you’re locating suspended fish. Treat each cove as a separate body of water. Have you ever caught the same fish over and over in the same area? Those fish live most of their lives in the same cove from birth to death. Check the most likely spots in each cove, if you have success, you can establish a pattern.

I will start by looking for 2 things, weather, and temperature. A warming trend (5 days) that includes sunny days will often bring deep fish shallower in search of food, prefrontal days can bring intense feeding regardless of depth, driven mostly by barometric pressure. The shallower fish will require you cover more area and keep moving.

My rig set-up will include an 8wt rod loaded with Type III Sink fly line with a 2.5-4 ips sink rate, and a 3’-5’ 20lb leader.  We’ll start by targeting treetops 12’-15’ below the surface, we’ll throw a weedless shad pattern stripped slowly through the trees. If you think you’re snagged, set the hook.

If we get lucky and have a few warm days, I’ll go to the northern reaches of the reservoir where the water is warmer and shallower, and search for bass feeding in the creek channels and cruising the shoreline. Again, I’ll focus on creek turns, pools, and ledges since the fish will most likely be using these as staging and traveling routes. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to switch over to a floating line and a longer leader. A lighter leader will be fine but remember that silence is golden during this time of year.

So don’t give up fishing in winter but remember 1 bite is a good day and 1 fish in the boat is a bonus and never ever forget what a blessing it is to be there in the 1st place. 

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Lake Fork Weather Forecast


Slight Chance Thunderstorms

Hi: 67

Friday Night

Rain Showers Likely

Lo: 54


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Saturday Night

Rain Showers

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Lake Fork

Fishing Report from TPWD (Apr. 17)

GOOD. Water Stained; 60 degrees; 0.20 feet above pool. Fork has been good with fish in just about every stage of the spawn. Lots of fish are shallow in 1-4 feet with Texas rigs, yum dingers, chatterbaits, flukes, and swim jigs. Offshore bass are good on humps and points in 5-7 feet of water with Carolina rigs with light weights, mid-running crankbaits, and shaky heads. Report by Marc Mitchell, Lake Fork Guide Service. Changing weather means changing bite. First phase bass spawners are now in a post spawn pattern and aggressive. Frog pattern topwaters are excellent in the grass and brush. Casting into the pockets and letting the frog sit for a few seconds is a good idea. Crappies are shallow, small fish patterns like wooly buggers are a good bet. Bream are beginning to make themselves known in the shallows, wooly buggers and small poppers should bring a strike. Report by Guide Alex Guthrie, Fly Fish Fork Guide Service. Crappie are great with some pre-spawn fish, some fish actively spawning and some post spawn. Fish can be found in a few feet of water to 30 feet of water. All crappie on Lake Fork do not go shallow to spawn and we catch fish in 18-20 feet that are spawning on timber. You can also find some fish on brush, lay downs, bridges and docks. It is a very versatile time to catch crappie with multiple patterns. Minnows will work great right now but any crappie baits will catch fish. Try small hand tied jigs and soft plastics. Catfishing is excellent right now on Lake Fork around timber in 12-20 feet. Still seeing loads of fish around roosting trees. Lots of birds in the shallow areas close to the bank in the early mornings chasing shad spawns. The catfish are also up there feeding on shad as well. Use any prepared catfish baits or cut shad on baited holes in the timber. Use a cork with anything a catfish will bite up shallow. Minnows and cut shad will work great on this shallow fish. Report by Jacky Wiggins, Jacky Wiggins Guide Service.

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