Saturday, October 18, 2014

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

This report is written by Lou Gabric, owner operator of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Norfork Lake. Open year round, Hummingbird Hideaway Resort has a cabin to fit your needs, whether it be vacation or a place for family and friends visiting you in Mountain Home, Arkansas. Call for more info. 870-492-5113.
The Fall fishing pattern on Norfork Lake is in full swing. The water is cooling and the fish are healthy and becoming very active. Not only the fish are active, but the deer are moving and starting the rut. It is early, but the pre-rut usually starts mid to the end of October. I have seen a nice buck chasing a doe across the lake and what a great site that was. Hunters, don't forget about fishing, it is a great time of year to catch a lot of fish.

Striper fishing has continued to be very good.  As stated in my last report (Oct 9th), I have been finding stripers and hybrids in two different type of areas. Look for the stripers and hybrids on large deep flats. You will find them in water from 38 - 55 feet deep and they will be feeding on the bottom. The best bite in this type of area is about an hour before sunrise to about an hour after sunrise. Live bait is a good choice, or you can vertical jig with a spoon which is my preference. I have also located large schools along deep bluff lines and typically at the ends of the bluff where the deep water channel swings close to the point. I have been finding these fish in 50 - 100 feet of water and the fish will be suspended 40 - 60 feet down and sometimes even deeper. Lately I have only been fishing in the mornings but last evening I ventured out onto the lake for the first time in many months. I started about 4 PM and I stayed very close to the resort. I graphed for about an hour in a lot of my usual haunts, but only marked a few fish. I then moved to a confluence where an old creek channel intersects with the main lake channel. I was out in the middle of the lake in 80 feet of water when I started to mark bait about 50 - 60 feet down. Then the fish showed up above the bait. I ended up landing 2 stripers and 3 hybrids in about an hour. I was vertical jigging. Trolling should also work at this time, but you will need to get your baits very deep, I would suggest 40 -50 feet down.

If you are a pan fisherman the big bluegills are biting and there are hundreds of them hanging around brush piles. Crickets has been the best baits, but small minnows and worms will also work. Small jigs tipped with a wax worm is also producing some nice fish. I have had several groups of guests at the resort over the last couple weeks and they have taken home many gallon bags full of filets. Bluegills are really good eating.

Bass fishing has also been very good. The top water action that I was finding during my last reporting period has slowed, but expect this to take off again very soon with the cooling of the water. You will find some fish along the banks early and late, but the main areas I have found big bass is in 30 - 40 feet of water feeding on the bottom. The bite after dark is also very good so get your spinners ready or your jig and pigs.

Crappie and walleye fishing has been slow, but should start up soon. The water temperature continues to fall which will bring these fish back to the brush. This will make it easier to find them.

Catfishing has been good on jugs and trotlines set in 10 - 30 feet of water. Live baits is the best, but cut bait is also working. Large schools of cats are also starting to roam the flats.

Norfork Lake's current water depth has risen to 550.41 from the rains last weekend. This level is about 3 feet below the seasonal normal pool. The creeks and coves are very stained and parts of the main lake also are stained due to the run off from the rains. The main lake will start to clear up rapidly. The water temperature is right around 70 degrees, but will continue to fall slowly with the cools nights we are having.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

Norfork Lake Striper fishing has been really good this past week, including this morning. I took out a couple of my guests this morning and we slammed the stripers and hybrids and also did pretty well on  black bass. I am finding stripers in two different types of areas. First, along bluff line points that have a deep water channel swing next to the point. What this gives you is typically shallower water on one side of the point and deep water on the other. This is striper heaven, they come up to feed in the shallow water, but they have deep water nearby to escape to. I have attached a screen shot of my depth finder taken last Monday to show you what I have been finding for the last couple of weeks. Huge schools of fish feeding on shad, today was no exception. This is a striper fisherman's dream. When you locate this type of activity drop a jig through the school and I bet 9 out of 10 times your jig will be hammered before you are ready to stop it. When you feel the line go slack reel up quickly until you feel the fish then set the hook and of course, hold on for a great battle. I have also found that the deeper you fish in the school the larger the fish typically are. The second type of location where I have found stripers and hybrids is on large medium deep flats. I have been finding large schools of fish in 45 - 55 feet of water feeding on the bottom. Jigging a spoon is also working great in this type of area. Last Monday I was on a bluff line in 95 feet of water (as shown in the screen shot below) and a friend was fishing a flat area about a mile away and got into a huge school of fish. I have been fishing the mid lake area close to Hummingbird Hideaway Resort, but I have had good reports of fish being caught at all ends of the lake.

The black bass bite has also been really good. I have been jigging a spoon in 30 - 40 feet of water off of the bottom and catching some really nice largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass. One of my bass fishing guests is also doing really well for bass. He has been casting jig & pigs and 10 inch crawlers and is catching his fish in 10 - 30 feet of water. He has also found some really nice bass on shallow flats in 2 feet of water. On windy days try out a spinner bait. There is still top water action early and late in the day so have your favorite top water bait ready for action.

Pan fishermen, if you're looking to fill up your freezer for the winter with good size blue gill the bite is on. Loran, Tony & Sheila have been fishing for blue gill this week and I think the freezer in their cabin is full,(it is a big freezer too). They have been using crickets and catching huge numbers of fish. This is some good eating.

Crappie and walleye fishing is still on the slow side, but I am starting to see more and more of these fish move up into the brush and into shallower water. A little cooler water should really make these species start to bite aggressively. I caught a 17 inch walleye this morning in 40 feet of water on the bottom.

White bass are starting to show up in the schools that I have found. The whites are typically at the top end of the school. You can also look for whites on the shallower flats in 20 - 40 feet of water and be ready when they start to erupt. Blade baits and small spinners will work great when you get into a school of whites.

The current Norfork Lake level is 549.13 and falling slowly. The surface water temperature this morning was 74.5 degrees. The main lake is clear and creeks and coves are stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

I am really looking forward to Norfork Lake's fall fishing season to get into full swing. With cooler weather over the last couple of weeks, the lake has given signs that the fall season is starting. The lake surface temperature has dropped into the upper 70's and the stripers and hybrids have started to make their move away from the dam area. I even think some of the coves had started to turn over last week, but we are still a few weeks off from the entire lake turning over. The current thermocline has dropped to around 40 feet, but the oxygen level is good at all depths.

Over the last week I have concentrated my fishing habit on the mid lake area. I have gotten into huge schools of hybrids and stripers and have found big schools of Kentucky bass and largemouth bass schooled up and feeding on crawdads. Overall it is shaping up to be a great fall season for fishing with gorgeous scenery.

There are several very effective methods of fishing for striped and hybrid bass; vertical jigging with a spoon, live bait and trolling with 6 inch swimming minnow type baits. I have mainly been vertical jigging with a spoon. I have found big schools of hybrids with stripers off of main lake, bluff line points. The best points to check out are the ones which have a channel swing at the point. During this past week the fish seem to appear as it starts getting light (around 7AM).  If it was cloudy or overcast the fish stayed around for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, but today with the bluebird sky they were only in the area for 1/2 hour. This morning I landed a nice 7 pound hybrid and lost 2 others. Another location type to check out are the large flats. It seems that the fish are holding in 35 - 55 feet of water and are close to the bottom. Yesterday I marked a lot of fish, but they would not take a spoon, but a live bait fisherman next to me landed 3 nice stripers in the 10 pound range. There are still plenty of stripers in the dam area, but the fish are starting to scatter and are showing up in the mid lake area. As the water cools they will continue to scatter throughout the lake. Over the last week the striper/hybrid bite has been good and will only improve as the water cools.

The largemouth, smallmouth and kentucky bass bite has also been good. Most of my bigger bass have come from 35 - 45 feet of water vertical jigging on the bottom. I have found a honey hole this week that has been holding schools of feeding Kentuckys and largemouth, a midlake hump that must be holding plenty of crawdads as the fish I have cleaned are full of them. Yesterday I should have boated 10 keeper size bass in less than an hour, but every time I would reach for the net the fish would tail dance and throw the hook. It was a lot of fun.  I have also caught nice bass  off of bluff wall points in 40 feet of water. Similar locations where I have found stripers/hybrids. One of my guests is doing very well on bass. He likes to cast a jig and pig (brown skirt with a blue pork chunk). Most of his fish are coming off of bluff walls in about 30 feet of water. There is still good topwater action in different areas, but most of time they are short fish, with the occasional keeper.

The white bass bite is good when you are able to locate them. They have been found on shallow sandy flats. But I only know of two locations at this time. Last weekend a guest boated 20 whites in about 20 feet of water using a Kastmaster. He got into some good top water action. Today another guest found some of the big whites in 30 - 40 feet of water schooled up. The mid size hybrids are also hanging out with the whites. Use a light action rod and have a blast.

The crappie bite is starting, but is still slow. A friend has been crappie fishing over 30 - 40 feet brush and finding crappie 15 - 25 feet down. He is getting a few off of each brush pile, but they are not coming easy. As the water cools more and more crappie will move back to the brush piles.

The catfish bite is still good. You can find them at all depths, but the ones that I have spooned up have been in 35 feet of water or so. Trot lines and jugs are working well. Today I saw a jug  screaming across the mouth of Float Creek. It had to have been a very good size fish. I hope the owner found his jug, but as fast as the fish was swimming it's hard telling how far that jug had travelled.

The Norfork Lake level has fallen to 549.48 and drops a little each day with sporadic power generation and constant minimum flows into the river. The lake surface water temperature has dropped to the upper 70's. This morning on the main lake the temp. was 76.9, The main lake is clear with the creeks and coves stained. Over all very favorable fishing conditions.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

Norfork Lake's striper and hybrid bass bite is still very strong. Today was no exception. I landed 4 stripers in the dark with live gizzard and thread fin shad. I started to fish about 5:45 AM in total darkness. I set out the first pole at 38 ft and was sitting in 42 ft of water. I used a 2 ounce weight with a 5 foot leader, all with 8 pound monofilament line. I started baiting up a second pole and looked over to the first rod and the line was straight out and the reel zinging away. I landed the striper shown in the 3rd photo down. I continued baiting up the rods and finally had 2 out. All of a sudden both rods got buried in the water and the fight was on. To my dismay both of the fish swam together and the lines tangled so I ended losing both of them. After this I only put out one pole and held onto it. This made things much easier. I landed another 3 fish in the same size as below and released them immediately and also missed several good bites. Once the sun rose (approx. 7 AM) the fish decided to leave my area so I had to start looking again. Today I used live bait, but prior to today I had been vertical jigging with a spoon with great success. Jackie and I fished last Thursday (top photo) and had a great time. We landed over 8 fish, mostly hybrids,all on a spoon. We found these fish part way back in a creek at a channel swing in 60 - 70 ft of water. The fish were schooled up and suspended 30 - 40 ft down. On Saturday John and Mary Kay (second photo) used live shad for their fish and they fished the same area that I fished Thursday. Today I found
the fish on a main lake point. The best bite for
stripers and hybrids are within 3 miles north of the dam and also east of the dam. It's a big area, but there's a lot of fish. If this year is anything like prior years the stripers will start to migrate away from the dam area sometime in September, but I have to say, this year has been anything but normal.

The black bass bite is also very good. Lately there has been some good topwater action at sunrise and sunset for largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass. Today, however, there was virtually no topwater action, but I did find some
nice schools of bass 30 - 35 ft down in 30 - 60 ft of water. I landed 4 really nice largemouth bass all on a one ounce spoon. What surface action I did see was right on the shoreline. I believe the recent frontal system rolling though our area drove the bass down to the thermocline.

White bass are also schooling, but I have not had much success in finding them consistently. I have found some really big whites when I am striper fishing and some medium size whites up in the Briar Creek area. Look for the whites on the deeper flats in 40 - 60 ft of water. I have spooned up some whites and have also caught some on a Kastmaster.

I haven't targeted crappie or walleye lately so I don't have a lot to report on them. There are still a few crappie sitting under docks, but I am sure most of the crappie and walleye left the brush piles for deeper water when the water warmed up. Watch for the crappie and walleye to move back onto the brush with the upcoming cool front rolling though this week. The last walleye that I caught was in 40 ft of water on the bottom, caught with a spoon vertical jigging.

The surface water temperature this AM was 82.5 degrees. The Norfork Lake level has also dropped a little and is currently sitting at 550.05 ft about sea level. The main lake is clear with the creeks and coves stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Norfork Lake Fishing Report


Norfork Lake Striper fishing has really picked up over the last several weeks. Stripers and hybrids have schooled up. When you find them it can be non-stop action. Live bait and vertical jigging with a spoon are both working great. I have been using a one ounce spoon, in various colors, white, white/chartreuse, white/green and white/blue. The spoon itself is a lead weight in the shape of a minnow with a treble hook at one end and a swivel at the other.There are many types of spoons on the market, but I use and carry a full stock of the Bink's spoons if you are interested in trying them out. I have caught and released 6 + stripers per day over the last three days. Today was no exception, I landed 8 and had to keep 3 today due to the fish feeding very heavily and swallowing the spoon so deep that after retrieving the spoon the fish could not swim away. So here is dinner for the next few days. After I had 3 in the boat I started to fish for other species. I caught a couple white bass and called it a day. Today I found the stripers in 60 feet of water suspended 30 to 40 feet down. I dropped the spoon to this depth then jigged it up, and let it float back down. Before my line got tight there would be a fish on the other end. Lots and lots of fun. Sounds easy, right! The biggest challenge is to find the fish. Today I looked at 3 different areas before I found them. Sometimes the fish will be in the same area day after day, but in the last week I found a huge school of fish back in Georges Cove, but I keep checking and they haven't found them again in that area. These fish keep moving and following the bait. The joy of fishing for me is the feel of success once I've find them and they start to bite.

There is still a good, but short lived, topwater bite for largemouth, smallmouth and spots at daybreak and sunset. Have your favorite topwater bait ready for some fun action. Once the sun gets high they start to go deep. I have heard that the after dark bite for black bass has been pretty good.

White bass are also schooling. It seems that after the stripers and hybrids take off from an area, the whites are nearby. I have caught them on topwater as well as down deep with a spoon.

I fished some for walleye two days over the last week and have caught several. I found them around brush in 30-40 feet on the bottom. The biggest problem has been that they have all been short. I guess I need to keep looking.

Catfishing is still good on trotline and jugs. Set your baits down about 15 - 20 ft back in the creeks and coves or next to a bluff line. This morning when I was cleaning fish the turtles were in feeding on the scraps as is normal, but then I saw two 10+ pound blue cats come in and start hauling off the carcusses. It was fun watching them feed.

The current water level is 551.3 falling slightly each day. The dam has been generating 6 - 10 hours per day on most days. The surface water temperature is in the mid to upper 80's which is getting close to normal for this time of year. The creeks and coves are somewhat stained and the main lake is still clear. The lake is in great shape for water depth and temperature.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

Norfork Lake summer fishing has been slightly different from prior years. The fish are in their summer pattern, but in my view point they're in an early July pattern. Let me explain, typically in August the lake temperature is in the upper 80's to low 90's, but currently the lake is only in the low to mid 80's. This is not bad, we are still finding stripers and hybrids starting around the 62 bridge & Robinson flat area all the way down to the dam,  not only at the dam as is typical for this time of year. Crappie are still on 30 foot brush instead of being suspended out in deep water and there is plenty of top water action for largemouth, smallmouth, spots, white bass and some striper and hybrids. All species are still shallower than normal, which is good.

I have been fishing the Robinson flat area and the dam area catching hybrids and stripers from 38 - 50 feet of water sitting on the bottom. My grandaughter (top photo on the right) caught her first hybrid bass in this area and was really excited. Today I fished in the dam area and the fish erupted all around me. Big whites and medium to small size stripers were flying out of the water chasing small shad. I landed 9 fish and kept the two in the second photo because they both swallowed my spook too deep to retrieve. I also spooned up several stripers in 48 feet of water on the bottom. While spooning I noticed that the fish were not hitting the spoon on the jerk up or the fall, so I started letting it sit on the bottom and twitch it a little. I could feel a light bite then would set the hook. If you are live bait fisherman get out on the lake by 4:30AM, the bite is really strong in the dark. Spooning for stripers is just starting to take off so have a spoon ready to vertical jig and of course your top water pole.

Crappie fishing  has been good, which is  very unusual for this time of year. They are still sitting in brush that is at the 30 feet level. Also you can find them under docks especially if the dock has brush under it. My dock is just stacked with them, 4 - 6 feet down. Live minnows are working very well as are small jigs tipped with a minnow. If the lake warms to its normal temperature, I would speculate that he crappie will move off of the brush.

Catfish are also being caught on jugs, trotlines and pole fishing. Flatheads are hitting the best. You will find them around brush in the 30 ft of water during the day and in the shallow water feeding at night.

White bass are starting to school. I couldn't say this last week. You can find some good top water action early in the morning or at sunset. This action can be found at all ends of the lake. Two days ago some of my guests said they saw great top water action close to the 101 bridge and this morning I found them in the dam area. Use your topwater bait when you see then erupting and spoon for them when you find them deeper.

Black bass are hanging out around the 30 ft brush as well as along the deep bluff lines. You will find them on the bottom or suspended 30 down. Early and late in the day they will be up closer to the shore line in shallow water feeding. There is also a good topwater bite early and late in the day. Check back in the major creeks.

The Norfork Lake level currently sits at 552.9 and is falling slowly at about 2 inches per day. This level is approximated 3 feet below the new normal pool. The lake surface water temperature this AM was 83.5 degrees. The main lake is clear, and creeks and coves are stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Norfork Lake Fishing Report


I hope everyone had a great Memorial Holiday. The weather was fantastic and all of our guests had a great time playing in the pool and lake. I think we all all glad to have summer like weather.

It has been a long time since I have written a report, not because I have not been fishing or that fishing has been no good, but instead because of time constraints. I am still fishing at least 5 days a week and the resort has been being really busy this spring so the report has taken back stage. I will try and do better. Actually fishing has been good most of this spring.

Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing continues to be the best bite on the lake. Striped bass fishing is the next best bite. Catfishing has been very good and crappie fishing has been fair.

There is still a good top water bite for bass at sunrise and sunset. Once the sun comes up, the fish stay down, but can still be caught in the sunken buck brush down through 20 feet of water. Spinner baits and crank baits are working good on windy days and soft plastics when it is windy or calm. Shaky heads, tube jigs, jig & pigs, Texas rig worms or just about any type of plastic bait you like to use. Look for bass off of secondary points back in creeks and coves, close to submerged brush piles or on shallow flats. Spots can be found on the deeper rock bluff walls again off of points and the sides of the point.

Striper fishing keeps getting better. I have only been using artificial baits up until yesterday. I have had luck with top water baits as well as flukes and jerk baits (when it is still dark). Top water action for stipers has been spotty, but when you find the fish it can be a blast.  Over the last 2 days I have started fishing with live bait. I have found fish half way back in major creeks. At this time of year and with this water temperature you will be able to find stripers on the surface down to around 30 feet of water. At this 30 foot level they can be suspended in the deep channel water or sitting on the bottom. The stripers are almost everywhere on the lake at this time. We should start to see schooling fish so get your spoons ready as it will soon be vertical jigging time for stripers. You can also troll umbrella rigs or Alabama rigs to catch some of these strong fish. If you find fish down 30 feet you may need to add in-line weights to get your artificial bait down to the right depth. Don't forget about top water action for stripers, hybrids and whites, I have seen plenty of this action during the month of June in prior years.

Catfish are hitting really well on trotlines and jugs. The use of live blue gill, nightcrawlers, chicken livers and shad are all working really well. Set your trotlines in 10 - 25 feet of water. Jug fishing works the best if you weight the jug to the bottom. This way you will be able to find them when you are checking them. Crawler harnesses are also working very well for catfish for you rod and reel fisherpeople.

Crappie fishing is starting to slow a bit with the warm weather. You can still catch some nice fish on brush piles in 20 - 30 feet of water. The crappie will be inside of brush or suspended as the water warms.

The Norfork Lake level is rising slowly and currently sits at 556.81 which is normal pool at this time of year. The lake surface water temperature was in the mid 70's this morning. The main lake is very clear with the creeks and coves slightly stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

All photos are of recent catches.