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HOOKED ON EAST TEXAS: Fish habits on Lake Fork

How are humans impacting fish behavior on Lake Fork?

QUITMAN, Texas — Charlie Nassar has been fishing Lake Fork for a long time. 

And his experience tells him where the bigger fish are and where they’re not.

 But a few years back, he noticed a change. The bigger fish on Lake Fork weren’t where they used to be. It seemed they moved. So Nassar changed where he fished.

"For most of us, especially in the summertime, you adjust to the points and drop-offs and things of that nature, so the fish have migrated out of that hydrilla now and are on the stumps and points" said Nassar.

But did the fish really move or was there more? Where were all the larger largemouth bass on Lake Fork? 

Enter Jake Norman, he’s the Tyler district Supervisor for the Texas Inland Fisheries Division. 

“Clearly there was something going on, so we wanted to come up with a project to maybe answer that question, so fisheries biologists caught a couple dozen of these bass, carefully inserted a tiny radio transmitter into the belly of the fish and released them back into Lake Fork," said Norman. "The whole purpose of this study is really trying to get some information out to the anglers about fish in a heavily pressured water body like Lake Fork throughout the whole year.”

Biologists use telemetry equipment to locate fish included in the study. Then they drop a radar device into the water to pinpoint the fish’s location. Is it on the bottom or suspended in the water? Is it alone or in a school?

"These are all, all questions that anglers think when they’re out fishing to target fish to try and put a good day together," Norman said.

Biologists then idle the boat near the fish to see if the boat scares it off. If it doesn’t, then Norman gets to cast five times near the fish to see how the fish reacts to a lure or the vibration of the lure.

"We're trying to put every piece of information together that could possible be affecting angler success," Norman said.

The research wraps up this spring but two key takeaways are emerging from this study. 

One is that fish are really sensitive to noise, but in this case it’s boat noise on Lake Fork.

"I think another interesting component is how little these fish move, whether they’re shallow or deep fish, we’ve seen some of these fish stay within a 200 yard radius throughout the entire year no matter if the water temperature is 100 degrees or 50 degrees," said Norman.

This is all great information to get you hooked on fishing in East Texas!

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