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Out In It: Spring bass Texas-sized

We slid Cap'n Ron's Skeeter into the warming water of late March. On each side of the landing, the docks towered above us, a harbinger of how dangerously low the water had receded. We slowly worked our way onto the main lake, straddling the slimy off-white navigation buoys bobbing in the morning wind. In all directions, the reservoir revealed its scarred, exposed underbelly. My son Josh and I had come to Texas for one thing: to chase the Florida strain largemouth bass lurking in the back bays and busting schools of shad on the gravel-strewn points of Lake Fork's 27,000 acres.

The Skeeter roared to life and threw me back into my seat. Forty, 50, 60 miles per hour we careened toward our first fishing spot. Josh and I glanced wild-eyed at each other as we weaved through the waterlogged forest stretching in all directions. The reservoir was flooded 40 years ago, leaving an alien landscape of twisted trees and branches forever forced to stand guard from their watery graves.

Making my own assessment, it all looked fishy. But over the course of two mornings, our guide would teach us a couple of things. Lake Fork bass are constantly being harassed, and the true monsters we were after would come from precise locations at precise times. We slung chatterbaits and banged square-billed cranks off the underwater debris of our first point. Josh and I came up empty-handed, but Cap'n Ron connected with a giant that would top Minnesota's state record by nearly 2 pounds.Our excitement grew. The bass pushing 10 pounds solidified one thing immediately: this would not be my last time fishing Lake Fork.

Our guide's boat was completely decked out with the latest technology including sidescan, downscan and live imaging sonar. We relied heavily on the old fisherman's telltale secret - birds. If egrets and herons dotted a point, and loons dipped in and out of the shallows, it was an indication shad were cruising the skinny water; and where the shad gather, bass are close by. We worked point after point, casting and cranking, concentrating on each presentation.

Slipping into the calmer back bays proved to be a taste of early June in Minnesota. The air and water temps pushed into the high 60s, and I took the time to appreciate that we were stealing a bit of spring.

We battled the wind and weather for two days and boated some beautiful southern bass. The rain chased us off one morning, and the wind caught up with us on Day 2. Forced to concede, we reluctantly pointed the car north and headed back to Cloquet.

Greeted by an early April snowstorm ... all we really wanted to do was turn around and go back.

Bret Baker is an award-winning outdoors columnist and lifetime resident of Cloquet. He is a proud husband, father, educator and outdoorsman. Email him at Legacy [email protected] with fishing questions or story ideas.

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