On the road in Texas

It should come to no surprise to anybody reading this column that fishing plays a big role in my life throughout the year.
I have loved to fish since a very young age and have chosen a career path in the fishing industry.
Some months are better than others for work opportunities. But over the course of a year, I’m fortunate to get the opportunity to visit some pretty interesting destinations where I can just go fishing.
Last week I took a quick trip south to Lake Fork, Tex.—one of the most storied bass fisheries in the world. A reservoir that was formed in the late 1970s, Lake Fork gained massive popularity in the mid- to late ’80s when several bass over 15 pounds started to get caught by anglers.
As time passed, anglers from around the world flocked to Lake Fork, particularly during the winter months of February, March, and April, when large bass moved into shallow water to spawn on the lake.
Today, there are resorts and motels around the lake that cater to the thousands of anglers who visit this lake in rural Texas each year.
The reason for my trip last week was to help out with a small corporate bass tournament that a couple of my fishing sponsors put on for their employees.
International Comfort Products, the makers of several brands of air conditioning and heating products, is one of my biggest sponsors to help me compete in the FLW Tour events that I have participated in over the past couple of years.
In conjunction with KrugerFarms.com, which is another big supporter of me, they put on a fun bass tournament for about 25 ICP employees and customers from Texas.
KrugerFarms.com, by the way, is an online retail website for fishing and hunting gear based out of Minnesota. I mention that because I get asked what it is quite frequently.
The participants in this tournament, along with myself, arrived at Lake Fork Marina the evening before the event, where we all had dinner together and shot some friendly banter back and fourth about who was going to catch the biggest bass the next day.
Participants were paired up with local guides and fished from sunrise in the morning until 11 a.m., when everybody came in to eat lunch before heading back out for the afternoon.
Later in the afternoon, the teams arrived back at the marina for a weigh-in to see who would gain bragging rights for the next year.
I was able to spend part of the day fishing with a few of the teams, then I emceed the weigh-in, which was fun.
The fishing at Lake Fork was not great last week, but the guides said it probably is the toughest time of year to fish the lake. The weather was still hot in Texas and they said that once they start to get some cooler fall weather, and the water temperatures start to drop, the fishing will pick up.
There still were plenty of fish caught—just not numbers of the big seven-pound plus fish the lake is famous for.
Of all the places I’ve been, there’s probably no lake that receives more angler pressure than this one does. When I checked into my room at the marina, the owner told me they do not have one room available for the entire month of March.
Just a week before I went, there was a large big bass tournament that had about 5,000 participants over the course of a weekend–and it isn’t a huge lake.
A strict slot size on the lake requires the immediate release of all bass between 16 and 24 inches, so the number of mature bass in the lake is very high. This slot limit basically eliminates traditional bass tournament formats, where anglers bring in limits of the biggest fish they can catch.
Instead at Lake Fork, they have big bass events where awards are given out to the anglers who catch the biggest “over” 24-inch fish and the biggest “under” 16-inch fish.
It was fun to spend some time at this body of water simply because of all the history it has for producing big bass and because of all the famous anglers who have fished here.
On the wall at the Lake Fork Marina where I stayed there were autographed photos from country music stars, professional athletes, and, of course, big-name professional bass anglers.
I had a great time!