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Texas Sportsman
Timely Patterns For Fall Bass
Check out the bass fishing at these prime East Texas locations this month -- and use these patterns to score! (October 2008)

Fall in Texas! Temperatures are dropping to a tolerable level, leaves are changing, waterfowl are migrating -- and all that's on your mind is that huge trophy bass you'll get this weekend.

That's right: I said "bass," not "buck."

I know that this sounds a little off-kilter. But even though most of you are shooting bows, sighting-in rifles, filling up feeders, and thinking about monster bucks, the fall of the year is one of the best times not only to latch onto a trophy bass but also to hook into a ton of smaller ones -- that is, if you know what to look for at your local lake.

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For the past two decades, the undisputed heavyweight champion in the world of bass fishing has resided in Northeast Texas. California has its aquariums with bass snacking on stocked trout, and Mexico has a year-round growing season, but the stump-filled arms of Lake Fork have been producing double-digit bass for decades, and the reservoir shows little sign of slowing down.

Even though more anglers are flying across the waters of Fork in the spring than at any other time of year, fall at Fork might be your best chance at catching a trophy -- and also staying on a consistent pattern. The current No. 2 bass caught in Texas just happened to come out of Fork in November, so if you've stowed the rods for the winter, it might be time to break them back out.

Clint Wright, owner of Lake Fork Day & Night Guide Service -- (903) 342-3497, [email protected] -- makes a living pulling big fish out of Lake Fork on a consistent basis, so when he talks about fishing the lake in the fall, it might be a good idea to listen. Would it surprise you to know that one of his favorite times of the year to be at Fork is when the deer hunters get back in the woods? The reduced pressure and cooler temperatures make being on the lake a pleasant experience; the massive fish that are biting are just a bonus.

The one key Clint passes along that absolutely must be taken into consideration this time of year at Fork, and really just about any lake, is the thermocline. As a matter of fact, Clint won't even pick up a rod until he's determined exactly how deep the thermocline is in a specific area.

To understand the influence of the thermocline on Fork bass fishing, you must first have an understanding of what exactly the thermocline is. When looking at a slice of a lake, imagine it divided from surface to lakebed into three distinct layers. Starting in late spring and on into the summer, the surface of the lake becomes increasingly warmer (layer 1) while the water in the bottom of the lake stays cooler (layer 3). Between these two layers is the thermocline (layer 2), a mixture of cool and warm water.

Why is this middle layer so important? Glad you asked. Cold water is denser than warm water, and dense water holds less dissolved oxygen, making it difficult for bass, or any fish for that matter, to live in it for an extended period of time. The thermocline -- the middle layer -- marks the beginning of the cold, dense water and gives an angler some idea of where not to fish. If you're throwing lures that fall beneath the thermocline, you're just spinning your wheels, since there will be very few bass at that depth.

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