The first three Bassmaster Elite Series tournaments of 2019 had us fishing for prespawn and spawning bass. I anticipated that I would be catching mainly postspawn bass at the next two events. That proved to be true at Lake Fork.
The postspawn is my favorite time to fish because I can do what I love to do. That means throwing a topwater bait in the shallows or burning a crankbait deep. Soft plastic baits dominated the first three Elite Series tournaments. I suspected that Lake Fork could be won on hard baits.
I knew it was going to take more than 100 pounds to win at Fork, so I looked for big schools of offshore bass during practice. They key to catching them was to cast only to bass that were actively feeding. If they weren’t grouped up tightly and positioned close to the bottom I’d go somewhere else and maybe come back later.
I caught all but a few of the bass I weighed in on crankbaits. My four limits of Lake Fork fatties totaled 95 pounds, 10 ounces, good enough for fourth place. Catching all those biguns was an absolute blast.
I’m super disappointed that the Fort Gibson tournament has been cancelled due to high water. Had that not happened, I believe my basic postspawn strategies would have paid off there, too. Basically, that means cover a lot of water with a topwater bait or a crankbait.
I would have attacked Gibson with my favorite topwater bait, Yo-Zuri’s 3DB Pencil, a 4-inch walking stickbait. If the water were stained, I probably would have thrown the Bone color all day. If the lake had been clear, I would have started with bone in the morning and switched to Prism Shad after the sun got up.
I fish the 3DB Pencil with a 7-foot, medium action Abu Garcia Fantasista Premier rod and 40-pound Yo-Zuri Superbraid. That braid comes off the spool so smoothly I can cast farther and with more accuracy. The line doesn’t stretch so I get a good hook set even when a bass nabs the bait a long way off.
I add an 18-inch leader of Yo-Zuri Top Knot 100% Fluorocarbon to the braid. I don’t really need the leader when I’m working the bait with a fast cadence. But if I have to walk the bait slowly, the leader prevents any bass that’s looking up from seeing the line. An Abu Garcia MGX reel with an 8.0:1 gear ratio helps me set the hook and keep’em coming.
At Gibson I would have worked the 3DB Pencil over rocky shorelines where shad probably would have been spawning. Shad always spawn on a harder shoreline. Gibson has plenty of rocky areas, riprap and flat points with rock outcroppings. The shad spawn on wood, too, but you have to run upriver at Gibson to find more wood targets.
I also would have fished deep at Gibson with crankbaits. Deep is relative. At Fork the bass could be 30 feet deep. At Gibson 10 to 14 feet is deep. I would have leaned on my Duel Hardcore Crankbait 3+ and 4+. The 3+ runs 10 to 12 feet, while the 4+ runs 12 to 14 feet. I cast them with a 7-foot, 11-inch, Abu Garcia Veritas rod. It’s a heavy action, but it has a parabolic bend for cranking. I pair the rod with an Abu Garcia STX Gen 4 reel with a 7.3:1 gear ratio and 12-pound fluorocarbon.
I would have run my crankbaits over long points at Gibson that have rock and maybe some brush. At Fork the bass were schooled up a little bit. At Gibson I suspect I would have had to pick off one here and one there. I probably would have caught several smaller bass between the quality bites. I’m saddened to miss that opportunity.