LAKE FORK GUIDE ANDREW GRILLS

Trophy bass fishing on world famous Lake Fork

Category – FISHING REPORTS

Lake Fork bass fishing reports and pictures from Lake Fork guide Andrew Grills

December Lake Fork Report and Big Bass Pictures!

As you can see from the pictures below, we’ve had some big fish recently! November wasn’t quite the numbers month it had been in years past, but it turned out to be a great month for big bass. Each big fish we boated came from deep, offshore structure.

The water temperature right now is in the mid 50’s. Hopefully it continues to go down. The fishing is better for me when we have a normal winter. The water level is about 1.5′ below full pool. As of right now, the deeper fish are holding around 20′. However, we are at the time of year where I start to go a little more shallow.

It’s no secret that I love the winter months. Winter is all about quality over quantity. Being cold blooded, they do slow down in the winter. Although, big bass, especially the females, have to eat in order to maintain their body weight and support the developing eggs they’ll be laying in spring.

Big bass always like deep water access close by, but this seems to be more important in the colder months. Big fish will position in areas where the can move vertically to change depth and still relate to the bottom. A ledge is a perfect form of structure for a bass in the winter. If the sun is out and warms the surface a bass can easily rise in the water column to “soak up some rays”. However, if a cold front comes along, all the fish will need to do is drop down a few feet to a more stable temperature.

Creek channels, ditches, and drains are prime areas for the bigger fish in winter. I like the 8-12′ depth best, but will often target areas in shallow water if conditions call for it. The presence of aquatic vegetation is a big bonus. The grass will hold some warmth from the sun, produce oxygen, and provide as cover for protection.

I’m looking forward to the next couple months. Winter is nice and quiet around here. I enjoy having the lake to myself and the anticipation of that big bite! Remember, the Texas State Record Largemouth was caught on Lake Fork in January!

Check out these giant Lake Fork bass! There are no two pictures of the same fish.

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Fishing the Santone M-Series Jig on Lake Fork

The leaves are falling and so is the water temperature! That gets me excited, because the cool months are my favorite for big bass. The Santone M-Series jig is a top producer for me in cold water.

 

I’d like to share when, where, and how I fish the M-Series. These factors are extraordinarily important when jig fishing, especially on Lake Fork. The vast amount of standing timber can make it seem like searching for a needle in a haystack. There are also times to put the jig down and opt for a different approach. My goal is to help you narrow it down and simplify what many find to be a difficult technique to learn.

 

In my opinion, fish seem to bite jigs best during the colder months leading up to the prespawn period. A football jig is a major player here throughout the summer and fall. however we are focusing on a traditional pitching jig for now. I usually check the jig bite in late October, but it doesn’t seem to become a viable pattern until mid-November. The early jig season is usually very productive because the fish aren’t seeing jigs go by on a daily basis and don’t seem as conditioned to the technique.

 

I continue to fish a jig regularly throughout most of March, but when the water warms and fish are comfortable venturing from ledges towards spawning areas the effectiveness of the technique seems to wane. An increase in fishing pressure may have something to do with it or it could be a transition in their primary forage base. I have had customers catch some really big fish later in the spring on jigs, however the numbers of bites are much lower and there seems to be better ways to catch them.

 

As for determining where to fish a jig, I try to imagine the lake has zero standing timber and look for structure bass should be relating to in the winter and early spring. The stumps are just a bonus as cover. Fish use areas such as points, secondary points, and creek channels as they stage on their way to bedding areas. They then use the stumps as cover for safety and ambush of prey, but keep in mind they are there because of bottom contour, not cover.

 

I find that sharp breaks are most productive throughout the cold periods. Bass seem to want to be close to deeper water as cold fronts are passing through on a regular basis during the winter. You will find this on the edges of points and secondary points, but most importantly along the creek channels. Creek channels are highways for the bass and baitfish as they travel to their springtime haunts, and they provide deep water access as well. Ditches and drains are just as important to pay attention to. Any area with a low spot where water would run to the original channel prior to impoundment is likely to hold some fish.

 

Often, the hardest channels to read are the best. We can usually look at the standing timber and get a good idea where the creek channel is. The gap in heavily timbered areas, leaning stumps (as leaning stumps often lean over the creek), and the presence of live oak stumps can help you identify the original creek channel. Live oaks are often the biggest stumps in a given area and grow near a water source. Built in maps or map chips on your depth finder can sometimes point you in the right direction, however they are rarely accurate as to the exact location of the channel. I also pay attention to where the trot lines and jug lines are set if I am in an unfamiliar area, as they can sometimes help lead you to the channel. Learning how a particular channel runs takes time and patience, but it is worth the effort.

 

Being near the creek channel, drain, or ditch isn’t enough. I have found that boat positioning is a critical factor in success. I like to keep my boat in the deeper channel and cast to the top of the ledge and bring the jig back as it rolls over the tree roots descending down into the channel. If the low spot or channel is too narrow I will position the boat outside of the channel and cast across it, making sure to work down the outside bends. The outside bends often have the steepest ledge due to the original current flow prior to impoundment. I always get excited when fishing the outside of hard channel bends, as these seem to be prime big fish hangouts.

 

Creek channel fish can be in a wide range of depths. In any given creek, I believe there will be small wolf-packs of prespawn females staging in various areas along the way. Some may feel comfortable where the channel is 8′ deep and the top side of the ledge is 4-6′, and others may be in areas where the channel is as deep as 25′ closer to the mouth of the creek. The key is the ledge.

 

I feel that the presentation is a matter of confidence. Most anglers I have guided or fished with tend to fish a jig much faster and with more of a hopping motion than I do. I find that an extremely slow crawl works best for me. Even though I’m creeping the jig along, I still feel the bite is a reaction bite, in that most of my strikes come as the jig rolls over a root or branch. With the slow approach, it gives you the opportunity to sneak the jig up to the bass without it feeling or hearing it coming. Often, if I work through an area slowly garnering a few bites, I will go back through it with a more aggressive “stroking” type retrieve to see if I can pick up a few more reaction bites.

 

The M-Series is my favorite pitching style jig. The “arkie” style head design will hook fish right every time. Certain head designs naturally turn during the hookset. This results in poorly hooked fish. You don’t get too many bites jig fishing, so you don’t want to lose any. The M-Series solves that problem. Jigs are cheap, and I would make my own before I would use or promote a product I didn’t believe in.

 

Hopefully this information helps give you some confidence in jig fishing. Right now is a great time to catch a giant bass on a jig. As always, feel free to contact me if I can be of any assistance on your upcoming trip to Lake Fork.

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Lake Fork Report for October, with pictures

October is one of the best months of the year here on Lake Fork, and not too many folks realize that. Fishing is getting better and better, and it will continue to improve as the weather cools down. While we do catch an occasional big fish, October is more of a “numbers” month. I encourage customers with young children, or novice anglers, to come enjoy getting their line stretched this month!

The water temperature is still in the upper 70’s as I write this report, but hopefully that will drop sooner than later. The water level is holding steady near full pool, at just 0.54′ low. That’s hard to believe considering how dry the past few weeks have been here.

I wasn’t surprised that we had very little sign of a “fall turnover” on the lake. We had a lot of current with some heavy rains at the very beginning of September that probably really helped.

There are plenty of fish shallow, for those who like that style of fishing. Topwater early, then light Texas rigs, small swimbaits, and jigs are working for the shallow fishermen I know.

I’m finding a good number of fish deep, and lately they’ve been extremely deep. That is likely to change by the time this report is published. Every day has been different, but I’ve been catching some fish deeper than 30′. That’s a little deeper than usual here on Lake Fork. Look for fish out at the ends of points, on main lake humps, and pond dams. Road beds always get good in the fall as well.

If I can be of any assistance on your upcoming trip, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Good luck out there!

 

The following pictures are from my trips this past week!

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Back to Work on Lake Fork

It’s nice to be back home on Lake Fork. After spending a couple weeks on Falcon Lake guiding in August, and then taking some time to visit family in Tennessee, now it’s time to get back to guiding on Lake Fork. My new Skeeter FX21 should be ready any day now, so that’s going to be a treat for my customers and I.

Lake Fork is looking good right now. The lake is right a full pool, and the fishing is ok for September. The fishing generally gets better and better as the weather cools down.

October is a good month for fishing and I still have some open days available, so be sure to check with me if you’re thinking about a trip to Lake Fork.

Falcon Lake was not quite as good this year as it was last year. We still caught some giants, and had some pretty good numbers days too. It is possible to catch as many little bass as you want down there, but that’s of no concern to me. We were looking for bigger fish, and most days that worked out pretty well. We will keep and eye on the lake level over the next year to determine if we need to make another trip next August.

Here are some highlights from the short time we were down there…

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Lake Fork Report, July 14

The big ones just keep coming! There have been a few more tough days in the mix the past two weeks, but I’m still impressed with the quality of fish we are catching here on Lake Fork. This has been an above average summer as far as fishing goes, and the lake is in great shape.

Lake Fork is still holding steady at full-pool. That is highly unusual this time of year. This tends to make the fishing in the summer a little more difficult, but it is excellent for the overall health of the lake. My customers often comment on how healthy the lake looks. Water color is nice, the shorelines are green, and the bass are chunky. The water temperature is in the mid 80’s.

This must be the year of the Santone jig. I don’t recall a summer that I’ve caught more bass on football jigs. The fact that I love throwing a jig might be the reason we’re doing so good with it, but other guides have been having good success as well. This may also be a factor in the quality of fish we have been catching. The jig gets big bites. That’s why I love it.

Color doesn’t matter one bit. If it did, I wouldn’t be posting pictures of fish mouths with my favorite color Santone jigs lodged in their throats! If one color was important, I’d keep that fact to myself. Green, black, brown… they’re working.

Other techniques are producing well too. I’m also doing a good deal of cranking, and others are getting bit on carolina rigs, spoons, and (yuck) drop shots. 15-25 feet deep is the range. I know that is vague. While one specific depth is going to be best, you’ll find some a little deeper and some a little more shallow.

As always, please don’t hesitate to contact me if you’re planning a trip to Lake Fork. I’ll help any way I can. July is flying by. Next thing you know it’ll be hoodie time. Be sure to get your fall and winter dates reserved ahead of time.

Here are some recent good days on the water!

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And incase you missed it, we had a 42lb bag a couple weeks ago!

 

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Giant Bag on Lake Fork! 42lbs 7oz.

42lbs 7oz for our best five bass on Lake Fork! What an incredible day! I’ve had several great days where our top five breached 40lbs, but never in June. Fishing has been great for big fish lately, but this was an extra-special day.

You’ll see I caught a few good ones too. Don and Frank insisted I fish as well. Anytime a “sweet spot” was identified I turned around and casted the opposite direction. I only caught 4 out of the 25-30 fish for the day. Don broke his personal best twice!

Our weights were as follows (pounds/ounces): 9.4, 9.1, 8.9, 8.5, 7.4. We also had one that I caught that would’ve culled the 7.4, but probably would’ve only added a pound. We didn’t weigh that one, so I didn’t include it in the top five.

We caught almost every single fish on a Santone football jig. We caught them from 15′ deep down to 25′. If you’re coming to Lake Fork, or choosing on of the Lake Fork guides, I hope you’ll give me a call and let me help you on your upcoming trip.

Here are some of our fish from the big day.

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Lake Fork Report with Recent Pictures!

We’ve made some great memories here on Lake Fork over the past week! The fishing can be challenging right now, but most days our hard work has paid off. I’m not on numbers, but I am on quality. I always try to keep my customers in a position where they have a better chance at catching a trophy bass.

There have been some tough days mixed in. However, the good days are outnumbering the bad ones, and more often than not, a personal best for big bass is broken on our trip. I’ll take that, especially given how slow the fishing has been the past couple summers. This year it looks like Lake Fork is back to herself. These Florida strain bass love hot weather. Don’t think for a second that the heat shuts them down.

I’ve been catching most of my fish on a Santone football jig. I’m working offshore structure, and doing a lot of looking with my electronics. I’ve also got a little something special going that’s just for my customers for now. Of course, I’ve got all the classic summertime tools on the deck as well. Carolina rigs, deep divers, and spoons have been catching a few for me.

I’m finding them in various depths from day to day, but it’s pretty easy to figure out where they want to be. The tricky part is finding the active ones. It’s a timing deal for sure.

Lake Fork is slightly over full pool at the moment. That is great this far into the year. Things are looking good for the future. Just remember that most of the hazards are hiding below the surface right now. The water temperature is in the low 80’s.

I know there are a lot of Lake Fork guides to choose from, but if I can be of any assistance on your upcoming trip don’t hesitate to call or text me.

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Deep Cranking Lake Fork Style

Summertime in Texas… Yep, it can get pretty hot. It doesn’t get much hotter than a midday deep cranking session. It’s the most physically strenuous technique in bass fishing. It may feel more like work than fishing. However, all is forgotten the moment you feel the head shake and a big bass has engulfed your crankbait. 

The fact of the matter is a deep diving crankbait has the power to trigger bites from bass that ignore other presentations, and it delivers big bites. This is why a deep-diving crankbait is one of the first tools I reach for in the summer for big fish. 

It’s no mystery to me why deep cranking produces big sacks of fish consistently. Bigger bass are often duped by a “reaction presentation” of some sort. Whether it’s a lipless bait ripping through grass, a heavy jig falling in front of their nose, or a crankbait careening through their hangout, big bass are fooled when they make a hasty decision. 

In deep cranking, there is always a “sweet spot”. It may be a rock or laydown log, but there is something down there that triggers a reaction when the crankbait deflects off of it. Often, it takes the perfect cast, at the perfect angle, to unlock an area’s true potential. When that precise spot and angle are pinpointed the crankbait can do things I believe nothing else will.

When approaching summertime fishing, we are looking at typical deep structure such as points, humps, and roadbeds. I rely on my graphs to tell me whether the fish are present. Once that is established, I like to make a few casts with a crankbait to try and “fire up” the school. Getting that first bite can lead to triggering a frenzy of activity. I find that I get more bites paralleling the structure with the crankbait, as opposed to casting from deep to shallow or vice versa. 

I never throw a crankbait if I can’t reach the bottom with one, or make contact with some form of cover. For instance, we will occasionally see bass suspended in tree tops that are well beneath the surface. Even if I’m in 35 feet of water, if the top of that tree is in a crankable depth I will still try to hit the branches with my crankbait. Nearly every bite I can recall that I’ve had cranking has been while my lure is making contact with something. Therefore, if the fish are suspended and I can’t bang the crankbait against something near them, there are probably better lure choices.

When I do hit something with my crankbait, I like to hit it hard. I want to wake up whatever lives down there. That is why I use a 7.2:1 ratio, high-speed reel. I know that kind of goes against the old school logic of low geared, slow retrieve reels for deep cranking. Yes, using a lower speed ratio takes a little torque off of the forearm, but I feel like I get bigger bites with a fast retrieve. My typical retrieve is nearly as fast as I can turn the handle.

The perfect cranking reel for me is the Shimano Curado. I like it because it has a large spool capacity which is important for long casts. My favorite thing about the Curado is that it will cast a crankbait a mile. The biggest challenge in deep cranking is getting the lure out far enough to get it down to the desired depth. I pair the Curado with a G. Loomis Deep Flex Crankbait rod. I use the 7’5” heavy action. It’s a stout rod for cranking but has an incredible parabolic bend. This helps with casting as well as landing fish. I normally use 15lb fluorocarbon line, occasionally stepping down to 12lb test if I need to get a little deeper.

We have been fortunate over the past several years to have some important advancements in lure design available. Crankbaits are diving deeper than ever. There was a time hitting that 20′ depth was the Holy Grail of cranking. These days it’s not unusual to be digging bottom in 25′ or deeper with the right equipment. My deep crank of choice is the Duo Realis G87. There is a deep model (15A) and an extra deep model (20A). I honestly believe it’s a game changer when it comes to crankbaits. 

The G87 has a built in magnetic weight transfer system. I could go into detail about how it works, but I’ll just put it this way: I can cast it 30% further than any other crankbait on the market. It casts like a bullet, even into the wind. It gets down deeper with less effort as well. 

Next time you’ve marked a few fish, but can’t get them to bite the jig, carolina rig, or spoon, try knocking on their door with a crankbait. Sometimes I see my customers cringe when I break out the deep divers. Yes, it may seem too much like work to some, however it’s a valuable tool that definitely has a place in our pursuit of big bass.

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Lake Fork Guide Report for June (Pictures Included)

Lake Fork is in great shape right now as summer approaches. I feel like we had another good spawn this year. This makes the third year in a row where we’ve had noticeable success with our spawn, and we should see better numbers of fish in the upcoming years. 

Having good cover in the form of flooded vegetation or aquatic vegetation is critical for the survival of freshly hatched baby bass. Thankfully, we’ve had an abundant amount of it over the past three spring seasons. 

Lake Fork is right at full pool. That’s a great thing as we head into summer. The water is still in the low to mid 70’s due to some recent “below average” temperatures.

May was a pretty good month for fishing. Numbers were great on the good days, and we had a lot of big fish as well. I’m betting June will be another good month.

Right now we are transitioning from the more shallow patterns of spring, to traditional summertime fishing. While fish can still be caught shallow all summer, the majority of the quality bass will be deeper.

We are already finding bass on deep offshore structure, and many more will show up out there soon. The depth they are holding really just depends on the area of the lake, but at the time of this report most of the deeper fish seem to prefer a depth somewhere in the mid 20’s. I find them a little more shallow on the upper ends of the lake.

I have two favorite techniques for early summer here on Lake Fork: deep crank baits and football jigs. These just seem to work best for me for bigger fish. Sure, I can catch some on big worms or Carolina rigs if I have to, but I prefer the other methods for now.

For the jig, I use a Santone football head in 3/4 oz. and 1 oz. I use several different colors. My favorites are “beans and carrots”, “pb&j”, and “Mexican heather”. If the water is clear, ” bullfrog” is my top choice. 

I use several different crank bait brands, but the one I throw the most is the DUO Realis G87. It’s a Japanese bait that casts extremely far and dives deeper than 20′ with ease. Lake Fork Marina and Oak Ridge carry this brand and the colors I use. I primarily use the deeper diving 20A model.

The problem with offshore fishing on Lake Fork nowadays is seemingly everybody knows how to do it. Even the less obvious areas are getting hit pretty hard. The key may be finding some “off the wall” area that everyone else will overlook. I used to fish deeper offshore structure exclusively throughout the summer, but now I supplement some shallow to mid-depth patterns because of the increasing pressure from anglers out deeper.

Hopefully this report points you in the right direction. As always, I’m happy to help any way I can so feel free to contact me before your trip.img_2791img_2817img_2782img_2792

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May 1 Lake Fork Report with Pictures!

 

May has arrived and the weather has continued to keep us guessing here on Lake Fork. Some heavy rains and the flood gates being open have kept our water level fluctuating over the past few weeks. The higher water couldn’t have come at better time for the fish. The flooded cover and new vegetation is the perfect protection for the newly hatched bass fry, and we will reap the benefits of this years spawn for years to come. This make 3 years in a row that we have had good protection for the hatch in the spring time. Lake Fork should continue to impress in the future!

As for the fishing right now, it has been a challenge to keep up with the changing conditions. However, we have managed to have some great days on the water this past month. May is usually much more stable weather-wise, and I believe it will be a fantastic month of fishing.

The bass are finished spawning for the most part, and that means they’re hungry and actively feeding in recovery. The spawning ritual takes a lot out of them, so when they’re done licking their wounds they put the feed bag on so to speak. May is probably the best month to fish Lake Fork for consistency and numbers of quality fish.

There are many ways to potentially catch them throughout the month of May. I will be starting most of my mornings with topwaters. If there is wind or clouds, that bite could extend throughout the day. Afterwards, I will continue to fish shallow early in the month. Pitching texas rigs, carolina rigs, and swimbaits will be my first options.

I normally concentrate in areas where fish make pit stops on their migration from spawning areas back out to the main lake. Points and secondary points are the primary structure they use this time of year. As the month progresses, some fish will start showing up on deep offshore structure. There are already a few fish on some deep spots. This is when I use my electronics to find them.

When I’m targeting deep fish this month a Santone football jig will be my first choice. It produces so many quality fish for me, it’s my first recommendation for a big bite. Deep cranks, carolina rigs, and spoons are also going to be useful tools.

Hopefully this report gives you some ideas that will help you this month. If you need any assistance on your upcoming trip, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

The following pictures are some highlights of our recent trips.

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