Photo by Shane Dorance / Bass
12 May 2022
Low water mods will be the key to success in Bassmaster Elite At Lake Fork
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QUITMAN, Texas – Patrick Walters is hoping for a storm during next week’s Simms Bassmaster Elite show at Lake Fork. These sentiments run counter to a stable weather forecast, but it’s not a meteorological mess as South Carolina professionals imagine it to be.
Competition days will be May 19-22 with the daily take-off from Sabine River Authority (SRA) – Lake Fork headquarters at 7 a.m. PT and weight balancing every day at the same location at 3 p.m.
“We’ve got a perfect storm – it’s finally warming up in there, the championship week is going to be really hot (highs in the mid-90s, lows in the low 70s) and the water level has dropped by 5 1/2 feet,” Walters said. “It’s the perfect storm for the fish to come out of and to catch them in great numbers outside.”
“I think the potential for mega bags is high. It would be hard to beat the 42-pound 3-ounce bag that caught[2021 Lee Livesay Award winner]last year. It wasn’t expected. I don’t know if we will, but the possibility Existing “.
In the fall, the Sabine River Authority in Texas began lowering the water level in the Fork to facilitate levee repairs. Jake Norman of the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife Department’s Department of Inland Fisheries said the water reached about 6 feet below the regular pond, but recent rains have raised the lake about half a foot—a level it should remain at for the foreseeable future.
The immediate effect of lower waters is habitat reduction. Thanks to stellar Fisheries Department TPWD work, Lake Fork swells with bass quality in the 4 to 6 pound range, with plenty of daily kickers, many of which break the double-digit mark. The fish do not leave when the water is low, so they congregate in fewer places and become more competitive.
“Low water concentrates the fish and puts them in areas with a higher percentage,” Walters said. “There are fewer good areas to get to. They have built their lives on living around this creek or that point, knowing they can go to that one point and feed on top of this seashell.
“Well, this crust is out of the water, so they had to move. The depth has changed, so there aren’t many high percentage feeding places.”
On the other hand, this should help fishermen to connect more quickly in the most productive areas. The downside is that everyone has the same advantage.
“It will make the fish lake very small,” Walters predicts. “There will be a lot of people on top of each other.”
No doubt with the many familiar spots fishermen have caught in years past standing high and dry, the options will be reduced. As Walters points out, the fact of what lives in the Lake Fork makes this all the more informative.
“What makes Lake Fork so amazing is that you’re never within 300 yards of a 20-pound,” he said. “I think the lower waters will focus everyone on the lower (deeper) extremity, but I think the upper extremities can still play.
“If there is a school of 20 fish in Lake Fork, they are all 4lbs and up, so you can throw in the big baits. Although they are stressed, there are plenty of fish in that school that will eat a big bait. Go (almost) to any Elsewhere and there may be two fish in that school that weigh more than 4 pounds.”
Typically, you should find bass in post-mating patterns – morning shadows, shallow bass catches, and sea hulls. Additionally, Norman said, the low waters, as well as the relentless spring cold fronts, have slowed the spawning cycle enough so that anglers can find a few bed fish.
Walters, who worked at the Sonar clinic facing forward during their dominant 2020 win over the Fork, said he expects perennial woods to play an important role again this year. Long points will also be taken into account in game plans, but a center pitch is likely to reduce gas bills.
“I don’t think we are going to chase them,” Walters said. “You better make decisions early on. If you have a good spot, start with it. There will probably be guys camping in one place all day. Usually, 50 points are good for a catch; Now there are 25.
“When the whole lake is open, everybody runs, hits that point, hits that point, hits the back of the jib, hits this stretch of timber. But now, if there’s a fish somewhere and it’s biting, why leave it? I think (low water) It will put these kinds of questions in everyone’s heads this time.”
In addition to fishing, basic navigational safety requires more attention during low-water events. Avoiding trouble means understanding where it really lies.
“I think it would be easier to navigate the Lake Fork in general, because as it went down, I think everything you normally hit would be out of the water,” Walters said. “It should be easy to run around the main canals, but it will be difficult to get to the bank; you have to stop as soon as you get there.”
Many anglers are expected to break the 100-pound mark, and Walters expects to total a 117-pound win and cut the Top 10 averaging 20-plus per day. Doing so, he said, would require fishermen to memorize memories of an entire lake and adapt to this year’s scenario.
“I think we’re going to see a different face to Fork than we’ve seen[in recent years],” Walters said. “It’s exciting, but at the same time, it’s like, ‘What will it be like when we get there?'” ”
John Cox heads into the fifth stop on the 2022 Elite Series schedule, topping Basmaster Angler’s Insurance Progressive Ranking of the year with 353 points. He is followed by Brandon Palanyuk (343), Clifford Birch (338), David Mullins (321) and Drew Benton (321).
Wisconsin Pro Jay Prescott leads the Falcon Roads Basmaster Rookie of the Year with 293 points, followed by Joseph Webster (249), Jacob Votz (200), Cody Hoff (198) and Masayuki Matsushita (197).
Complete coverage of all four days of the Simms Bassmaster Elite in Lake Fork will be available on Bassmaster.com and FOX Sports digital platforms. New to Lake Fork, Omnia Fishing and BASS have subscribed to simulcast the first and second days of Bassmaster LIVE as a shoppable stream on the Omnia website and mobile app. FS1 will also broadcast live with the championship leaders on Saturday and Sunday, May 21-22, starting at 7 am Cairo time.
The Sabine River Authority and Wood County Economic Development Commission host the Simms Bassmaster Elite in Lake Fork.