Fishing & Boating News

Lake Fork Still Producing Lunker Bass

by: Texas Parks & Wildlife Dept St,

(Wednesday, December 09,1998 - Quitman, TX) After the initial three months of a unique new Lake Fork Trophy Bass creel survey, it is obvious that this world-class fishery is holding its own, according to state fisheries biologists.

The survey, a cooperative effort between Texas Parks and Wildlife's (TPW) Inland Fisheries Division and the Lake Fork Area Merchants Council (LFAMC), is based on the willingness of anglers to report information on all largemouth bass seven pounds or larger that are caught at Lake Fork. The results to date might amaze all but those who are intimately familiar with this trophy bass fishery.

According to Steve Poarch, TPW fisheries biologist at Lake Fork, nearly 800 bass over seven pounds were recorded during the months of August through October. "Of the 791 bass over seven pounds, 59 were over 10 pounds," noted Poarch. "Combine this data with the fact that this is strictly a volunteer survey, it can be deduced that the numbers given here represent only a portion of the fish actually caught during this three-month period. These numbers are from a season not traditionally recognised for producing trophy bass. Can you imagine what these figures could look like in February, March and April?"

In August, 31 Lake Fork area merchants began collecting information on trophy bass caught at Lake Fork. Anglers catching bass over 7 pounds were asked to begin reporting their catches to these cooperating businesses regardless of how the fish was caught, or whether the fish was harvested or released. The information requested from the anglers includes length and weight of fish, and whether the fish was harvested or released.

Additionally, anglers who catch bass greater than 10 pounds are asked to report the zip code of their primary residence and the date and time of the catch. This information will help TPW biologists keep a watchful eye on the fishery at Lake Fork and can be used by the LFAMC and other local businesses promote the lake to anglers from around the country.

Reports were collected from 14 participants in August, a month not normally known for trophy bass fishing. Despite what was stated by local businesses as very low angling pressure, anglers still reported catching 200 bass larger than seven pounds. Of those fish, 28 were greater than 10 pounds, with the largest weighing 12.8 pounds. Anglers from at least four states(Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Missouri) and Tokyo, Japan caught fish over 10 pounds. Some reports did not include zip code so it is possible that anglers from other states contributed as well.

Of the 16 bass over 10 pounds (that had time-caught recorded), 10 were caught between the hours of 8 pm and 8 am. Results from the survey also indicate that 95 percent of the bass caught were released back into Lake Fork. In addition to the standard participants in August, a report received from the 12th Annual McDonald's Big Bass Splash. During the three-day tournament, 2,331 anglers weighed in a total of 564 bass over four founds, 213 of which were greater than seven pounds, including 8 over 10 pounds. The largest bass during the event was over 11 pounds.

The bass creel report for September was similar to that from August. There were 210 bass over seven pounds caught, including a 15.05 pound lunker on September 23 by an Oklahoma angler. Mid-afternoon appeared to be a hot period with five of the eight largest bass reportedly being caught between 2-4 pm. The catch-and-release rate was 96 per cent during September.

Fourteen merchants returned surveys for the month of October. Despite local merchants reporting fewer anglers than normal, 168 bass over seven pounds were reported, 15 of which were larger than 10 pounds. The October survey was anchored by the report of a 16-pound fish. Unfortunately, because the fish was caught and released during the night, no official weight was recorded. Anglers from four states (Texas, California, Missouri and Louisiana) reported catching fish over 10 pounds. Early mornings and late evenings seemed to be the best for large fish during October. The rate of catch-and-release was 97 percent.

Lake Fork is alive and well!