Lake Fork is located near the town of Quitman, Texas, and is the premier big bass lake in Texas. This 28,000 acre impoundment of flooded timber and lily pads has produced more top fifty bass in Texas than any other lake. The lake is loaded with a variety of species besides bass, including crappie, pan fish, and bow fish. With ample shore line and structure, Lake Fork is the fly fisher’s top choice for trophy bass near Dallas.
The recommended tackle for chasing big bass in this lake differs from what most trout fishermen are familiar with. The tackle includes fly rods in the seven to nine weight range loaded with both weight forward floating and sinking lines. Leaders are in the sixteen to twenty pound range, with seven and half feet being the preferred length. Be sure and bring plenty of leaders, as the abundant structure that promotes healthy bass will destroy leaders quickly. The well equipped angler should also bring quality, polarized glasses for the numerous sight casting opportunities in the clear waters of the lake.
Fly selection for Lake Fork will depend on the season. The usually technique of casting poppers is effective in the early morning and late evenings of summer, but they will largely be ignored during the spring when the fish are spawning. The spawn is a favorite time for most fly fishers, as this is when the large females will present themselves in the shallows. Large streamers in a variety of colors are well suited for this time of year. Lead eye clousers, half & halfs, leeches, and larger shad and blue gill pattern are most effective. If the fish are difficult to see, try fishing a white fly just below the surface, when the fly disappears, then a hungry bass has taken it. Look for shallow areas of the lake, adjacent to drop offs and grass flats. The bass will make their beds in these areas and the sign to look for will be white, sandy patches. Fish will stage on adjacent drop offs, both pre- and post-spawn.
The numerous timber of the lake will also hold abundant numbers of crappie and sun fish. Effective flies for the crappie will be small minnow imitations. Try using clousers in gray, white, and chartreuse. Also taking along a supply of crazy charlies in white to entice a finicky crappie bite. The pan fish can be taken on smaller streamers and nymphs fished on a slow retrieve.
Lower Mountain Fork River
The Lower Mountain Fork (LMF), located near Broken Bow, Oklahoma presents the only year round trout fishing near Dallas. The river is approximately three hours away and is home to good populations of rainbow and brown trout. The river is a tailwater fishery that is stocked monthly by the Okalahoma Department of Wildlife. The river is divided into three zones that allow the fly angler a variety of environments for catching trout.
The river is divided into three sections, Zones 1, 2, and 3. Zone one is the start of the river and home to Spillway Creek. The creek is non-dependent of releases from the power plant, so it usually fishable except immediately following heavy rains. It is easily accessible from the parking lot below the dam and the small trail which follows it down hill. The creek has been improved with holding structure donated by members of Trout Unlimited and in these pockets are where most fish will be holding. The creek enjoys year around dry fly and midge fishing and is a good introduction to the LMF. Spillway Creek will form the headwaters of the LMF in an area know as the “Evening Hole”. The Evening hole was long a stagnant part of the river, not know for producing fish but in a very small stretch near the bridge which crosses it. After recent work by the state, this improved area is now holding abundant numbers of fish and is easily accessible by most anglers. Down stream of the power plant and dam is Zone 2. This stretch of the river is known as a trophy area due to the regulations put on it to insure healthy fish populations. The area is primarily catch and release with artificial and barb less lures and flies the only legal means of fishing. The zone can be reached by the trail that follows is from the parking area near the re-regulation dam. This part of the river most closely resembles the rivers you find in northern Arkansas. Long still stretches of river and rock gardens will hold large trout. Extra care should be given to use long leaders in order to fool the wise trout that inhabit this stretch of river. Zone 3 is the final part of the designated trout area and can be reached by traveling east of Broken Bow on Highway 70. This area can be fished under the dam that marks this zone. Numerous boulders and runs begin this stretch and fish can be found holding in the numerous runs found here. Zone 3 is also the launch point for canoe trips down river and extra care should be given to the numerous recreational users on this stretch.
The tackle requirements for the river follow the usual trout assortment. Rods in the eight and half to nine foot lengths and four and five weights will cover most situations. Lines will be weight forward floating with nine foot 4-6x tapered leaders.
Fly selection changes according to the season. The spring will bring abundant dry fly hatches to all parts of the river. March browns in size 10-14 will usually bring strikes in the months of March and April. Adams in sizes 14-20 are always a good bet also. The river enjoys a prolific caddis hatch year around also. Elk hair caddis in brown and black size 16-20 should be fished late in the afternoon, especially on bright, sunny days. The late summer brings a hex hatch, and flies in the larger sizes should be fished when these insects are present. Nymph patterns are the usual standards, princes, pheasant tails, copper johns, and hare ears. Soft hackles in the smaller sizes and are often effective in zone two of the river. The LMF also contains a variety of midges and this should be included in every fly box. Effective patterns to try are Griffith’s gnat, WD-40s, rojo and zebra midges. These flies can be effective on all sections.
Lake Texoma, located north of Dallas on the Red River is home to one of the best striped bass lakes in the nation. Fly anglers can enjoy fast and furious action for these refuges from the salt. Texoma is almost sixty miles long and contains excellent black and small bass fishing also. The action starts up in the spring and last well into the fall.
The tackle for chasing stripers includes eight to ten weight rods with floating and full sinking lines. The floating lines can be used in the summer when the fish are schooling, while the full sink lines are used to reach the larger fish that hang below the schools. Leaders should be stout twelve pound test, nine feet long and designed for turning over large flies.
Fly selection should include large pencil poppers and various shad imitations. Lead eye clousers, half & halves, deceivers, sheep shad, and various salt water streamers can be used. Choose sizes based on the time of year. The shad will spawn in the spring and the stripers are keying in on these large populations as they begin they’re own spawning runs up the Red and Washita Rivers. A popular rig for the schools is to fish a popper with a weighted bait fish dropper.
The start of striper season is the spring when the fish begin to move up river to spawn. This will happen when the temps begin to hit the mid fifties on the lake. The fish will run along the shore line before first light and fly fishermen will have shots at fish up to 30 inches in the shallows. The spawn is also a chance for the fly angler to hook into double digit fish, as the larger adults will move up form the deeps and into water better suited for fly fishing. As the spawn resides, the fish will move along the Texas shore heading towards the dam. Eisenhower State Park will provide a launching point for kayakers and shore bound anglers hoping to meet the schools moving down the lake. Another favorite tactic is to hit the numerous marinas and coves that surround the lake. The dock lights will pull in large schools of bait with the stripers following them. This provides some night time action for anglers willing to stay up late. As the striper run subsides, the schools will disperse into the deep waters of the main lake. Fly anglers can take advantage of the top water action early in the day as the schools chase down large schools of shad. Look for the blitzing of shad and diving birds to know where the schools are at.
Texoma also offers a chance a quality small mouth fishing along its rocky shore line. The Texas shore is filled with numerous rocky coves and boulders that hold these bronze backed fighters. Cast various crawfish flies and baitfish imitations to fool these overlooked game fish.