Skip to main content

Catching Heat-Wave Bass

Lake Fork guide shows how to target big bass in severe heat

Catching Heat-Wave Bass
Lake Fork guide shows how to target big bass in severe heat

A glance at the weather forecast for my North Texas home shows searing heat for the foreseeable future.

Which means it's time to go out and experience some of the year's best fishing on my favorite big bass water in the world, the East Texas lunker factory known as Lake Fork. Especially if you know where to look and what to throw as the thermometer soars.

Veteran big bass guru and Lake Fork guide Dean Stroman (903-850-5083) knows exactly how to do both. Last summer, while fishing with my longtime Colorado pal Brian Strickland during the hottest summer on record in the Lone Star State, Stroman put on a heat-wave clinic to show us how it was done.

Even on one of the hottest days in recorded Texas history. Moments after stepping into Strickland's boat at first light, Stroman got the bucketmouth party started when he grunted and settled into a solid early morning fight with a six-pound largemouth.


For many anglers, such a fish would be something to hoot and holler about. Not for Stroman; he is looking for Lake Fork's trophy bass that push seven pounds or better.


With his own personal best Fork bass of 14.2 pounds; a client best behemoth weighing 15.25 pounds; and with seven customers having boated official ShareLunker bass of 13 pounds or better while aboard his guide boat, it's easy to see why.

"That's really the only thing I target is big fish," said Stroman, who began guiding on Lake Fork shortly after it opened in 1986. "When my boat hits the water every day, that's what I'm targeting is the biggest fish that swims in the lake."

Even during the dog days of summer. How does he do it? Stroman's late summer strategy starts by tossing DD-22 deep-diving crankbaits in the early morning light. Why the DD-22?

"It's hard to improve on perfection," Stroman said. "It has been around a long time and it still catches fish. It gets down quick, it hits the right depth, and they make it in a lot of good colors."


On our outing, those colors were the #41 Smoking Joe with a green back and a new color from Bill Norman Lures, the Suicide color with a speckled yellow/black back and a shad-white belly.Stroman will throw those on 15-pound test green mono tied to a baitcasting reel and a Custom Angle rod made nearby on the banks of the reservoir near Quitman.

Once the lure hits the water, he'll crank it down quickly and then settle into a steady rhythm trying to keep in contact with the bottom.

"The key to this bait being effective is that you've got to bounce it off the bottom and off of timber," Stroman said. "(When) there's not as much (grass present), you can throw it right up on the bank and crank it off into the deeper water."


That's ultimately the key, deeper water present in the form of a quick vertical drop.

"What you're looking for are ledges and vertical drops, with the better spots being the ones that aren't getting hammered every day, the stuff that nobody else is fishing," he said. "The faster the vertical drop, the better. And the more timber around that vertical drop or ledge, the better.

"What you're actually hoping to find are spots with brush in the drop-off itself, those are the magic places."

Later in the morning, as the red liquid in the thermometer soars, the crankbait bite will often die off a bit. That's when Stroman will switch to a Mercurochrome red soft plastic trick worm skewered on a Carolina-rig.

He'll tie his soft plastic baits on a three to five-foot leader tied to a swivel with a red bead and a heavy slip sinker attached.

On our trip last summer, Stroman set the hook into another solid fish pushing the six-pound mark - on his first cast with the C-rig, no less - as he worked his slow, methodical retrieve back to the boat.

"In the summer months, I like to drag the Carolina-rig back, keeping the weight on the bottom, using the rod to drag the bait along, and using the reel only to reel up the slack line."

Once Stroman feels "mush" at the end of his line or a soft thumping take, he'll reel down hard and fast to feel the fish before attempting to set the hook.

What followed his first Carolina-rig catch of the day was a red-hot tour of Stroman's milk run of deep water honey holes and more steady fishing success on chunky Lake Fork largemouths.

"When you pull up on one of these spots, you'll know within the first five minutes if the fish are active," he said. "And really, you can kind of know simply by watching your graph. If the fish and the bait are on the shallow side of the ridge or ledge, they're active. And if they're on the deep edge of the ridge, they are not active."

After tasty Po Boy sandwiches and a bottomless pitcher of iced tea at the air-conditioned Oakridge Marina restaurant, Strickland and I bid Stroman adieu for the day before we ventured back out on the tepid waters of Fork.

We never did crack the 10-pound barrier. But before the afternoon was through, yours truly had boated a seven-pound bass along with close to a dozen others in the two- to five-pound range. Strickland enjoyed similar success, even as the thermometer approached all-time record heat levels for that portion of East Texas.

Amazingly enough, Stroman said that for the angler who can stand the broiling summer heat, the fishing on Fork usually is at its best in the hottest part of the day as the shad begin to move around and look for more comfortable water.

Which, true to form, typically stirs up the big bass that inhabit this legendary Lone Star State bass water that is home to the state's 18.18-pound state record.

And when Fork's big bass are stirred up and hungrily gulping down shad, that is more than enough to keep a Texas bass angler somewhat comfortable.

Even on a day when the mercury pushes 100 degrees.

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Recommended Articles

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Minn Kota Raptor

Minn Kota Raptor

Associate Brand Manager Adam Knowles, from Minn Kota, talks with Rob Neuman from In-Fisherman, about the all-new Raptor shallow water anchor.

Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler & Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kits

Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler & Deluxe Anchor Trolley Kits

New products from ICAST 2020 included the Yakgear Basic Kayak Angler and Deluxe Anchor Trolley kits. Bill Bragman highlights the features of each kit.

Tactacam Fish-I Action Camera

Tactacam Fish-I Action Camera

Tactacam founder Ben Stern highlights the features of the Fish-I action camera with In-Fisherman associate publisher Todd Ceisner as part of the ICAST New Fishing Gear Guide.

Tackle Test 2020: Abu Garcia Revo MGX

Tackle Test 2020: Abu Garcia Revo MGX

Tackle Test 2020: Abu Garcia Revo MGX

See More Popular Videos

Trending Articles

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some great bass pond fishing.Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson

If you haven't looked at the smaller urban lakes in your area, you are missing out on some...

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?5 Great Lures For Bluegills Other Freshwater

5 Great Lures For Bluegills

Stephen D. Carpenteri - March 10, 2011

Who needs live bait when the big 'gills are so eager to strike these lures?

Sight Savvy: Different styles of bow sights each have their strengths—and weaknesses.How to Pick the Right Bow Sight for You Bows

How to Pick the Right Bow Sight for You

Tony Hansen - August 25, 2020

Sight Savvy: Different styles of bow sights each have their strengths—and weaknesses.

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies can be profound, even when fishing the same lake or river.How to Catch Catfish Day and Night Fishing How-To

How to Catch Catfish Day and Night

Terry Madewell

While catfish are still catfish, the difference between day and night tactics and strategies...

See More Trending Articles

More Stories

When an angler has thinking time—like now—interesting thoughts come to mind.Sheltered in Place: I Miss My Boat-Ramp Friends Stories

Sheltered in Place: I Miss My Boat-Ramp Friends

Tory Mansfield - April 10, 2020

When an angler has thinking time—like now—interesting thoughts come to mind.

There's no reason you can't be prepared if you catch a state-record fish.Think It's a State Record? Now What? Stories

Think It's a State Record? Now What?

M.D. Johnson - March 26, 2020

There's no reason you can't be prepared if you catch a state-record fish.

As wintertime takes hold, power plant lake bass fishing heats up for anglers that focus on a lake's optimal water temperatures.For Wintertime Power Plant Bass Lakes, Water Temperature is Key Stories

For Wintertime Power Plant Bass Lakes, Water Temperature is Key

Lynn Burkhead, OSG Senior Digital Editor

As wintertime takes hold, power plant lake bass fishing heats up for anglers that focus on a...

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will combine the top two hunting and fishing retailers in the United StatesBass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal Stories

Bass Pro Shops 'Reels In' Cabela's with $5.5 Billion Deal

Abhijith Ganapavaram and Sruthi Shankar

Cabela's agrees to be bought by Bass Pro Shops in a deal valued at $5.5 billion that will...

See More Stories

Magazine Cover

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Digital Now Included!

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE Arrow

Buy Digital Single Issues

Don't miss an issue.
Buy single digital issue for your phone or tablet.

Buy Single Digital Issue on the Game & Fish App

Other Magazines

Special Interest Magazines

See All Special Interest Magazines

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

Phone Icon

Get Digital Access.

All Game & Fish subscribers now have digital access to their magazine content. This means you have the option to read your magazine on most popular phones and tablets.

To get started, click the link below to visit mymagnow.com and learn how to access your digital magazine.

Get Digital Access

Not a Subscriber?
Subscribe Now