Thoughts on Lake Fork

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Basssmaster Judge

This week’s Guaranteed Rate Bassmaster Elite at Lake Fork is the kind of fishing we all dream about. This lake has true giants, and everyone’s going to catch fish.

The key, however, will be executing a disciplined game plan that keeps you in contention.

First, you can’t be satisfied with anything you find, because you need more. This is one of those tournaments where it’s going to take something special to win; you need more options, you need more fish, you really have to swing for the fence on Lake Fork.

You can’t have the attitude of “I’m just going to go get a limit; I’m just going to get a check.” If you want to win this tournament, you have to think big.

I set a goal in my mind of how much weight I want to catch. I want to break 100 pounds. I’ve never done that before and that would be awesome.

So, how do you prepare for that? I’m looking for big-fish spots, and I’m throwing big baits. I’m not throwing Carolina rigs, I’m throwing 8-inch swimbaits. Instead of throwing a shaky head, I’m throwing an oversized creature bait.

These are the things you need to do on a big-fish lake like this. You might not get as many bites, but your average grade of fish is going to be much better.

As for sight fishing, you really have to look long and hard to try and find some of those deeper fish. You can’t just run the bank like everybody else does and expect to win the tournament.

You have to get out there and look for those harder-to-find fish that are on beds or sneaky little out-of-the-way places that might get overlooked. Those are the kind of fish you have to look for, instead of just randomly going down the bank.

This is absolutely a situation where sacrificing quantity for quality is the way to go. You simply must think big on Lake Fork.

What’s amazing is that there are so many 3- and 4-pounders that you have to adjust your mindset. You’re catching good fish and you tell yourself, “Oh my gosh, I’m catching 20 pounds a day, that’s pretty good.” Well, it’s really not.

Landing 20 pounds here is like catching 12 pounds anywhere else. So you have to tell yourself that a 4-pounder really isn’t that important; it’s the 4 1/2- and 5-pound fish that are important. 

The quality of fish here on Lake Fork is so good that you just cannot accept a small bag. The Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has done an incredible job managing this lake — what a gem. 

The grade of fish here, the water quality, all things considered, this agency has managed this lake at a superlative level. Keeping this lake in such good shape for so long is impressive.

You look at so many lakes in the country, and they often have their cycles, but TPWD has consistently ensured that Lake Fork lives up to the reputation that drives us anglers to expect big things here.