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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Bent Tree Motel - Emory TX

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Lake Fork Weather Forecast



Hi: 79

Sunday Night

Mostly Clear

Lo: 50


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 75

Monday Night

Chance Thunderstorms

Lo: 53


Mostly Cloudy

Hi: 68

Tuesday Night

Partly Cloudy

Lo: 47


Mostly Sunny

Hi: 70

Wednesday Night

Mostly Cloudy

Lo: 55

Lake Fork Water Level (last 30 days)

Water Level on 3/27: 401.49 (-1.51)

Lake Fork

Fishing Report from TPWD (Mar. 22)

GOOD. Water Stained; 55-62 degrees; 1.64 feet below pool. The cold front dropped the water temperature down 10 degrees in some areas slowing the bass bite. Use a slow bait presentation with Texas rigs, baby brush hogs or beaver type baits on the outside edge of the grass. Darker colored baits like V & M chopsticks in Texas smoke have been fair in 3-6 feet. Look for the bite to improve by the weekend as the water temperature warms and bass return to beds. Frogs and baits worked on top of the grass and in the pockets of grass should be great by the weekend. Report by Marc Mitchell, Lake Fork Pro. Cooler weather is affecting the movement of the black bass, as the water cools the females are not committing to the beds, but as the water warms activity will increase. Search warmer clearer water in the backs of coves and creeks for active fish. Crappie are beginning to move towards the banks, try small bead heads fished slowly 3-4 feet. Carp and gar are spawning in shallow water. Report by Guide Alex Guthrie, Fly Fish Fork Guide Service. The crappie fishing on Lake Fork is getting really hot. Seeing great numbers and lots of big fish each day. The fish are making huge moves shallow this week and will for the next month. Areas in 2-13 feet are finally beginning to see more fish that are spawning. The 14-32 feet staging areas are also still loaded with fish and reloading daily now. Seeing lots of fish roaming in open water but the best luck is still coming on fish on timber or brush. Small hand tied jigs in chartreuse or orange are getting crushed right now, and you can still catch fish well on soft plastics and minnows. Report by Jacky Wiggins, Jacky Wiggins’ Guide Service. The crappie are biting in the main creek channels about halfway back in the creek. With the cooler weather most of the crappie are laying on the bottom. Once the sun comes out fish suspend up in the water column around 15 feet. Success with Snacky lures FS200 matched with the eye hole jig or crappie

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