High water and rain hindering Fork’s home-field advantage

james_c_photo.jpeg

Alan McGuckin

Few anglers on the planet understand the behavior of Lake Fork’s big bass better than James Caldemeyer. The Iowa native moved to the region at age 19, and that’s when his dad introduced him to bass fishing on the famous 27,000-acre reservoir. For the past 15 years, he’s made a full-time living guiding clients to their fish of a lifetime.

Easily recognized by the large “I Am Second” graphics on his Toyota Tundra and Ranger Boat, the 45-year-old Caldemeyer says an already full Lake Fork will fish different than fans of Toyota Bassmaster Texas Fest have seen in past events here. 

“Fork is already filled to the brim because of all the rain we’ve had, and we’ve got a lot more heavy rain on the way the next couple days. That forces the Sabine River Authority to open the gates at the dam to release water, which causes current to flow through our reservoir. And unlike most any reservoir in the country, current seems to hinder the bite here, rather than help it,” he explains. 

Typically, this is the time of year when giants like the 13 pound, 7 ounce fiberglass replica you see Caldemeyer holding in the photo finish spawning, migrate deep, school up and fall for deep crankbaits, football jigs and Carolina Rigs. But that’s simply not the dominant pattern this week according to Caldemeyer.

“Not only do you still have bass in all three phases of the spawn this week, but you also have a shad spawn taking place. Combine the shad spawn with clouds and rain, and you can count on the big gizzard shad to stay shallow pretty much all day. And that’s what big bass love to eat here,” he says.

With Fork’s groceries staying shallow, Caldemeyer predicts topwater lures like Berkley’s Choppo, as well as big swimbaits, will be major players this week.

“If I had to pick one swimbait to throw this week it would be a 6.75-inch Rising Son from 3:16 Lure Company, it’s an awesome gizzard shad imitator,” he says passionately.

However, as much as Caldemeyer loves to throw a swimbait, he knows it can be an all or nothing lure, hence he says he’d definitely have a shallow squarebill crankbait tied on as a “limit getter” in the shallows.

“I really think this tournament is kind of anybody’s ballgame to win this week. You’ll see guys froggin’ and pitching Texas-rigged plastics, doing all sorts of things to find a consistent pattern, but the pattern we’ve seen in this event during previous years where a guy with lots of local knowledge wins on a couple mega-schools out deep is highly unlikely this week,” he concludes.

That said, he predicts it will still take a mighty impressive average of 26 pounds per day to win the prestigious four-day derby. 

Caldemeyer should know. Few folks on earth have a better feel for Fork’s giant bass than the guy who makes a living slinging swimbaits from the front deck of the “I Am Second” boat.

To learn more about James, or to book a trip with him, please visit www.OfficialLakeForkTrophyBass.com.