LAKE FORK, Texas – Some anglers wait for years to get a shot at fishing the legend that is Lake Fork Reservoir. Keith Poche was one of those anglers.
Throughout his entire professional career, he had never fished a tournament on the east Texas lake. Maybe that lack of experience would hurt some pros on a new body of water, but it sure helped Poche this week.
The Alabama pro is moving on to his first Championship Round of the 2020 Bass Pro Tour season after finishing third in the Knockout Round of the General Tire Stage Three Presented by TrueTimber.
Poche finished his day with 13 bass for 42 pounds, 1 ounce that he caught by flipping a white craw or a green pumpkin Berkley PowerBait Pit Boss. The Berkley pro was able to weigh in more than 89 pounds of bass in his first two days of competition to get him to the Knockout Round, so he knew where to look to start his day.
“I knew I would catch a few today, I just didn’t know how many,” Poche said. “I knew I was going to be able to get around some because I had a couple of pockets that were loaded up pretty good with fish staging to spawn. I really slowed down today, sight fishing beds and taking my time doing it.”
Poche was able to pick apart specific pockets that had a combination of exactly what he was looking for.
“I found a lot of shallow pockets with a lot of thick grass,” Poche explained. “Those pockets were really protected from the main lake wind, dingy water and cold water. All of my fish on my first day came from one pocket. I’ve never seen so many fish in small pocket like I was in. I was able to find a couple more like it and made them count.”
If you’ve watched Poche on Major League Fishing over the years, you’ve probably noticed that he’s not opposed to making long runs. However, he found out very quickly that running would not be a viable option for him on Lake Fork. So, he changed up his game plan and adjusted on the fly.
“I tried to run the whole lake in practice and there’s just no way to do that with all of the timber,” Poche said. “I had to idle in so many pockets just so I wouldn’t hit anything. For anyone who wants to come out here, my suggestion is to pick an area where you’re going to stay all day. Pick an area that looks like where fish live and just go with it, because running across this lake isn’t going to be easy.”
After three days of trying to break down one lake he’s never fished, Poche now moves on to the Championship Round to another new body of water: Lake Athens. Poche got a chance to practice on Athens during his off day, but it was more about observation than wetting a line.
“Lake Athens has a lot of deep grass, something that I’m not super familiar with,” Poche revealed. “I didn’t fish a whole lot when I was out there practicing, I was mainly just surveying the area. I’m just going to get out there and go fishing. I’ll try a little of this and try a little of that. The weather is getting a little warmer so hopefully, those bed fish will really turn on.”
Through the first two events of the 2020 season, Poche sits 79th in the Race for the Points Championship. He hopes that his first Knockout Round of the season and now his first Championship Round will start to turn some fortune in his favor.
“I just have to try and put it all together,” Poche said simply. “I need to go out there and execute the best way I can. When I get bit, I need to make sure I make it count. Those nine other guys are going to figure it out and put up impressive numbers, it’s up to me to figure it out faster.”
Poche and the rest of the final 10 begin competition at 10 a.m. CT on Lake Athens. Only one angler will walk away with the Stage Three Championship and a $100,000 prize. You can watch the Championship Round for free on MajorLeagueFishing.com, the MLF app and MyOutdoorTV.