Lake Fork, Texas    ETS Systems

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What it takes to build the perfect trophy bass fishery:

Lake Fork Professional Guide Lance VickLake Fork is the best trophy bass fishing lake in America.
 Lake Fork was built as water supply for the city of Dallas in Texas, but the additional benefits of this lake are what the trophy bass hunters in America enjoy.
As the Sabine River Author was building the Lake Texas Parks and Wildlife started grooming it as a Trophy bass fishery.   Texas, always leading the way in bass fishery management, began to stock the numerous ponds that were to be flooded when the lake filled.  They stocked these ponds with high quality Florida strain bass.  As these fish were growing the lake was under construction.  
Florida strain bass are the bass that achieve super bass size above 14 pounds.  The Native largemouths do not have the genes to grow this large so with the Florida strain in the mix Bass over 13lbs are grown ever year.  
Texas Parks and Wildlife leads the way with a program called Texas Share- a- Lunker.  This program breeds female bass over 13 pounds caught in Texas waters with super-gene buck bass to produce bigger and better bass. These super bass are then distributed back into the lake which the female came from and other lakes in Texas to grow the next state record.
 In April, 2007 I had a Client catch a 13.05 pound bass, which he donated to the program.  That same fish was caught in April 2006, went through the Share-a- Lunker program with a successful spawn in captivity, was tagged and then released back into the Lake on November 2006. When we caught her in April of 2007 she was again donated to the program and had the largest spawn in the history of the program. She was released back into the lake in May of 2007. This serves as proof that proper bass fishery management is effective.
 One of the contributing factors to the Lake Fork big bass factory is the terrain-- the contours of the land. Lake Fork is a drain basin of about 330 square miles. It does not silt in like many lakes because it is not fed by a river.  This keeps the water from becoming too muddy which keeps the water quality high.
The lake does not fluctuate much more than 1 to 4 feet at a time which keeps the marine life stable. Bass need a certain territory to live out their lives and Lake Fork offers those territories over the whole lake.   
The many large creeks of the lake have many smaller Creeks feeding them, thus giving a large population of bass the proper area to thrive in each of these creeks or contributing creeks.
 Each creek arm has deep channel edges, shallow flats, wood cover, and vegetation Cover.   The angles of the creek arms shield spawning areas from the wind and allow the spawning areas to warm with sunlight.  Each one of these creeks maintains its own population of baitfish and predator fish lending to an overall greater fish population…larger than most other lakes.
Hydrilla is another very important factor that contributes to the success of Lake Fork. Hydrilla is the “mother” to bass.   It plays super important roles for all stages of the largemouth bass Life.   Beginning with the bass fry the hydrilla offers cover from preador fish, it also harbors high protein Grass fleas for the small fry to feed on and as they grow they feed on grass shrimp.   All the while Hydrilla is producing loads of oxygen keeping the water quality at its best and contributing to the production of Trophy Bass. Hydrilla gives cover to a largemouth throughout its life.  Large bass are the dominate predators in the Lake and they use hydrilla to ambush prey including bluegills, crawfish, minnows, and shad.
Since most the standing timber was left in the bottom land that was flooded the abundance of wood Cover plays an important role in the on-going success of Lake Fork.  Wood cover gives cover to bass when the hydrilla is not growing or the main Population fish are living deeper than the grass grows—usually in deep winter or summer.  
Great genes in the bass population, great ranges of habit, great cover are all contributing factors for a great start to a trophy bass fishery, but there a few more ingredients needed to make the perfect “Bass Factory.”
You have to feed bass to make them grow. All of the factors we have mentioned thus far help to grow a great baitfish population as well.   Threadfin shad, gizzard shad, bream, bluegill, crawfish, Yellow bass and crappie make up the grocery store for Big Bass on Lake Fork.
The last and most important piece to the big bass puzzle is Texas Parks and Wildlife Protecting bass with restrictive limits.  When the lake was young it was illegal to keep fish until they were eighteen inches in length. TPW then placed a slot limit--fish between14 inches and 21 inches are protected. The law stated that the fishermen could keep four fish under 14 inches or one over 21 inches or five under the slot.   This was effective, but the fish being taken from the lake that were over 21 inches was noticeable. TPW then raised the limit to 14 to 22 and the increase in the large fish was noticed. That grew bigger bass but still was not where it needed to be so the slot limit was set at 16 inches to 24 inches to be protected this was the right limit to make Lake Fork a true trophy bass lake.
Catch-and-Release does work! Blend all the above ingredients together and you have the perfect bass factory….Lake Fork!
Until next time
Good Fishing, Lance

Fishing Tip by Lake Fork Guide Lance Vick


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