Top Water Action

I’m often asked, when is the best time of the year to flyfish in Texas. Personally, I prefer to fish when the fish are biting anytime, but the top water bite reigns supreme for almost all fly fishers everywhere. Not only are the fish aggressive this time of year, but they are also often larger as well. Add in the fact that this is usually when the weather is warmer and more hospitable, well who doesn’t love that? It’s sort of like the perfect recipe for the perfect pie, or the perfect scotch with the right cigar.

Here's a few tips from my experience.

Windy banks are a great place to start on your search for aggressive bass. As the wind blows the bait fish towards the shoreline, the schools of bass will follow and begin a feeding frenzy. It’s often frustrating to watch the water surface blowing up as feeding fish chase shad and not be able to get them to bite your fly so I have developed a few techniques over the years that help.

  1. Match the hatch. Feeding fish are focused on what’s moving in front of them and not so much seeking a different bait. Try to match the size and action of the bait fish.
  2. Fish ahead of the school. Bass herd and harass schools of bait fish to separate and confuse them. Cast your fly to the periphery of the school and offer a single bait instead of trying to blend in with the school.
  3. My favorite technique is to throw a “One Eyed Slider” (check out and simulate a crippled bait fish on the surface. Bass are always looking for an easy meal. I developed this killer pattern to entice feeding and lethargic bass. Allowing it to simply float above their heads is almost irresistible and they will attack it aggressively.
  4. Fish around aquatic vegetation. A well-placed frog imitation is almost a guaranteed winner around weeds and brush. Try early and late when the frogs are naturally active. In our Lake the frogs have a white belly so I try to use a similar looking fly. Learn what the frogs in your lake look like since they will be colored to their surroundings.
  5. Bass are lazy. Deer hair crippled fish imitations are deadly this time of year, make sure you have some flashy tinsels in the pattern to attract a look from the bass. This will often invoke a reaction bite. Short line strips that give this fly erratic movement with frequent pauses will create an easy target for a hungry fish.
  6. Don’t forget the night. One of my all-time favorite techniques this time of year is fly fishing with top waters at night. If you haven’t tried this, you’re missing out on some super exciting fishing. It’s sort of like fishing blind folded, sounds crazy but it’s super fun and often the bigger fish patrol the shallows at dusk looking for frogs.

Finally, be stealthy. Shallow fish can see you and hear you much easier and although they’re in an aggressive mode they are much easier to spook. Position your water craft as far away from your target zone as possible and try not to scream too loud when big boy blasts your bait.

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Lake Fork

Fishing Report from TPWD (Jan. 25)

FAIR. Water Stained; 56-59 degrees; 5.47 feet below pool. Bass are more active on warmer days in the backs pockets and secondary points going into the pockets. Target the warmest pockets with chatterbaits and spinnerbaits in 2-4 feet of water. Fish are traveling in the creek towards the back on warmer days and moving outwards on cooler days . Those along the creek are best on red squarebill crankbaits in a 1.5-2.5 inch around the edges and big wood 3-6 feet of water. Texas rigs with creature type baits flipped at the big wood on creeks and ditches are good in black and blue colors and June bug in 3-6 feet of water. Report by Marc Mitchell, Lake Fork Pro. Black bass are beginning the early stages of pre-spawn. Try slow moving suspending streamers and sculpin patterns in 5-7 feet of water. Crappie are deep. Report by Guide Alex Guthrie, Fly Fish Fork Guide Service. Crappie are really good around deep main lake timber in 38-56 feet along creek channels. Fish have been a little more scattered the past week, so it is necessary to cover more water to catch limits. Seeing big white crappie mixed in with lots of smaller black crappie. Minnows will work very well and small soft plastics and hand ties are working well. Best colors for my boat have been purple and chartreuse. Getting good reports of brush pile fish biting as in 20-30 feet. Report by Jacky Wiggins, Jacky Wiggins’ Guide Service.

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