Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

The term "March Madness" definitely fits Norfork Lake this month. 3 inches of snow a week ago, 90 degrees yesterday and some thunderstorms and cooler weather on the way. The changing weather patterns play havoc with the fish, but today the fish gave signs of getting back on track.  I saw sporadic surface activity for largemouth bass and striped/hybrid bass, crappie moving in tighter to the banks for their pre-spawn activity, and the white bass and walleye have started to move out to the flats which indicates the majority of the walleye and whites have completed their spawn.

Today was a very interesting morning of fishing. My game plan was to search a different area of the lake for striped bass. I didn't find striped bass, but I ended up catching fish on 5 different types of baits. In the dark I started casting a suspending stick bait to the shoreline. I landed largemouth and crappie on my Smithwick Rogue. As the sun was coming up I casted out my blade bait, Kastmaster, and landed some whites. As the morning wore on I started casting out a paddle tail swim bait to the shoreline and landed a largemouth, then in deeper water I dropped a spoon and landed a walleye. Live thread fin shad landed a second walleye and I broke off a big fish, maybe what I was looking for.
Striped bass fishing the last couple of days has slowed with the cool system that rolled though our area last week. The snow and cold temperatures dropped the surface lake temperature from 56 degrees to 50 degrees. This morning the lake had warmed back up to 56 degrees. A few days ago the stripers that had moved back into the major creek arms were biting aggressively and could be found anywhere from 20 feet of water to 50 feet of water. Most fish that I was catching and marking were suspended 15 to 35 feet down. Yesterday I did mark a few stripers, but they were not feeding. This will change with the warming water very shortly and the good bite will begin again.

Largemouth bass fishing has been good. This species is moving in close to the shoreline early and late in the day. This morning brought some of the best surface activity that I have seen so far this year. This is still early for topwater, but a very good sign. This morning I caught largemouth before sunrise on a suspending jerk bait, as well as, after sunrise largemouth were being caught on a 5 inch paddle tail swim bait by one of my guests. The topwater started just as the sun got above the horizon. Start carrying your favorite topwater bait as I believe this will become a little more common each day. Alabama rigs are also working very well rigged out with a 3.5 to 4 inch swimbait. The shorter baits are still working a little better than longer baits, but this will change as the water continues to warm.

Crappie fishing is becoming very good. This species is in their pre-spawn mode and can be found in very shallow water as well as on 20 - 30 feet brush piles. Cast out a small paddle tail grub or small swimbait to the shoreline. Let it sink to the bottom and reel back to the boat. Small spinners will also work. Today one of my guests had a great morning of crappie fishing. He found fish stacked in and over 25 - 35 feet brush piles. He was vertical jigging with a spoon. Only 4 of the 11 crappie he kept had eggs in them. I am not sure if some of the crappie have already spawned or not. If you find some sunken brush along the shoreline that is exposed, fish this brush as it will be holding crappie.

I caught walleye this morning, one on a shallow flat in 18 feet of water and the other was out in 65 feet of water suspended down 55 feet. I marked bait from 40 feet to the bottom and saw 5 big arcs in the bait. I assumed the arcs were stripers so I dropped a 1/2 ounce spoon and landed a nice 23 inch walleye. You tell me what the current pattern of our walleye are? :-) The majority of the walleye have spawned and should be moving to the flats to feed. Deep diving crank baits, crawler harnesses and dragging live minnows will start to pick up some nice fish.

White bass have also completed the majority of their spawning activities. I am starting to find scattered fish on large flats suspended down 20 to 30 feet in 30 - 50 feet of water. I caught several nice whites on my Kastmaster bade bait. It will not be long until large schools of whites will be roaming shallow flats feeding heavily on shad. Topwater frenzies will erupt and make the water boil. Topwater baits, blade baits, spoons and swim baits will all pick up some nice fish.

Norfork Lake surface water temperature this morning was 55 - 56 degrees. The lake level is falling very slowly and currently sits at 545.25 which is approximately 1 ft drop over the last 2 weeks. The lake is somewhat stained but clearly is occurring.

Happy fishing a see you on the lake.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort 870-492-5113

Norfork Lake has entered the early spring bite pattern. Some species are spawning and others are moving out of the deep, cold water to shallower water following the shad. The shad are moving shallower due to the warmer water. Walleye and white bass have started their early spring spawn while other species are feeding very heavily on threadfin shad. The flowering trees have been blossomed out and the Redbuds are just starting to bloom. Remember the old saying that when the dogwoods are in bloom the crappie are not far behind on their spawn. Well I bet the crappie are not far away from moving into the shoreline. Our lake water warmed quickly this year and is still 2 - 5 degrees warmer than prior years. Last year the surface temperature in the morning was around 50 and 2 years ago it was in the upper 40's. Yesterday our morning surface temperature was 54.5 degrees. As always, the surface temp warms several degrees more during the afternoon with the warm sun.

The striped bass bite has been good. They have moved to the shallower water of the major creeks. I am finding big schools of fish roaming large flats as well as close to the creek channels. Sunday I was fishing with a friend with live shad. We were in 40 feet of water and a school came under us with fish from 15 feet to 40 feet. All of sudden one pole got buried, then the second, and so forth. We had 4 big stripers and hybrids hooked at the same time and it was total chaos on my boat. We ended up landing 3 of the 4 with one getting too close to the motor and cutting the line. That must have been Kyle's 40 pounder. :-) Locations vary, but I like to fish secondary points that have the creek channel swinging in close to the shore. I have found fish both on the deeper bluff line side, as well as, points on the shallower side. The best bite at this time, for me, has started around 9AM and goes until the early afternoon. Live bait is working great, but spooning has also picked up a few fish. Tolling with swimbaits or Alabama rigs are also working very well. You need to get your baits down to around 20 - 40 feet deep as the fish are at all levels. I have also started to fish after dark when the wind allows me. My first time out for the evening was after I wrote my last fishing report and I landed a couple stripers. I have fished several other times after dark and caught either stripers or hybrids each time. The fish have started to feed after dark so check the hooks on your suspending stick baits and find a good shallow point with deep water close and give it a try. It is a blast hooking into a large striper when you can not see anything and everything is by feel. A couple of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort Facebook followers read my last report and headed out after dark and landed a couple really nice fish.

Largemouth Bass are also starting to move a little closer to the shoreline. I have caught a few in the early morning up tight throwing a jerk bait, but most have been on the short side. I would look at about 15 - 30 deep off of bluff line points. Some will be suspended, but the bigger ones will be on the bottom. It will not be long until they start moving in with a vengeance and start their pre-spawn feed. Another great spot to fish will be brush piles in 20 to 30 feet of water. The bass will be hanging around the outsides of the brush watching for those shad that decide to venture away from the brush. Plastics worked along the bottom are working and crank baits are starting to pick up some nice fish.

White bass are still back in the creeks and coves finishing up their spawn. Try casting out Rooster tails or Roadrunners up close to the shore-line and retrieve slowly. You will also start to pick up some nice crappie fishing this way. After the majority of white bass finish up spawning they will start moving out to the flats and then topwater action for whites will start. I look forward to this time as it is a blast. I am seeing a few whites come up early in the morning, but  nothing to get real excited about yet.

Norfork Lake level rises slowly when power generation stops and drops when the generators are turned back on. Currently minimal generation is occurring and the lake level is 546.16. The surface water temperature in the morning has been 53 - 55 degrees depending on how far back in the creeks you go. The water is stained back in the creeks and the main lake is clear to partly stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort 870-492-5113

Fish on Norfork Lake are in transition from their winter pattern to an early spring pattern. Yes, this is very early, due to an abnormally warm winter which has kept the water temperature warmer than normal. The surface water temperature is 5 - 8 degrees warmer than the last 3 years at this time. The bait fish have started to move into shallow water which in turn makes the predators follow suit.

Striped bass can be found at all different depths. This morning I located a couple large schools of striped bass still out in 65 feet of water, following shad that was 50 feet down. Last weekend a couple of my Facebook followers (father and son) took my advice and headed back into a major creek and found some nice fish on the bottom in 35 - 40 feet of water, again chasing the bait fish. As the water continues to warm, the majority of  the bait will move out of the deep water into shallow water which will make for a great spring bite. Assuming the weather pattern holds as is, we are due for a very early spring bite, but this is a very big assumption. Only mother nature will control what happens with our weather. I have started to see small signs of top water feeding fish, not much but it's still encouraging. Don't get your hopes up too much because this is really early for top water action. The best place to look for striped bass is halfway back in the major creeks. Live bait and vertical jigging a spoon have been my best way of catching stripers, but throwing stick baits and flukes at sunrise are starting to work. I have only fished after dark for striped bass once since my last report with little success. The water temperature is just right for the night bite to start, so I will be out more and more after dark here real soon.

White bass are moving back into the major creeks on their annual spawning run. Start looking for big females staging in 30 - 45 feet of water. The males are the first to move into the creeks and then the females will follow. Once they start their spawn you will find them close to the banks. Small spinners, blade baits and spoons are some of my favorites baits for the white bass.

Largemouth bass are also starting to move into shallower water. This morning I was live bait fishing for striped bass and moving slowly along a deep bluff line. I found a small cut in the rocks and started casting my Kastmaster to the shore and letting it sink about 10 feet. I ended up landing 5 largemouth out of this little pocket. They are getting very aggressive. Crank baits will be working, as well as spinner baits on those wind blown banks.

The Norfork Lake water level is currently at 546.92 with minimal power generation at this time. The lake surface water temperature was 53 degrees this morning and is rising slowly. The main lake as well as parts of the creeks and coves are clearing. Once you get half way back into the major creeks the water is stained making it great for fishing.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

The weather this winter has been amazing with only a few cool days. At 7 AM today, when I left our Norfork Lake dock, the air temperature was already in the upper fifties. Early spring like weather. I started checking my normal winter spots and found some stripers in 90 feet of water suspended 40 - 50 feet down close to the 62 bridge. I was vertical jigging with a spoon and hooked into 2 fish but both came off after a short run. My second spot was in Float Creek. I marked a few fish lying on the bottom at 70 feet. but they would not take my spoon. I decided to try an area that I normally fish in March heading up towards the Fouts area. I was finding fish in 55 feet of water, but again I could not get them to hit my spoon. I headed into shallower water and found some schooling whites, hybrids and scattered largemouth bass in 25 - 40 feet of water. Bait was scattered and the fish were feeding. I guess the warmer than normal water temperature is moving the bait fish into shallower water and the fish are following. Unless the weather turns cold for an extended period of time we should have an early spring bite. I will try out the night bite sometime this week to see if we can get a good February bite like we had several years ago. The water temperature is almost perfect for the after dark bite throwing a suspending jerk bait.

Over the last few days, I have found largemouth bass in 20 - 40 feet of water, as well as, large schools in 65 feet of water suspended 30 - 50 feet down. Look for the largemouth bass part way back in creeks on secondary points where the channel swings in close to shore. It looks like the bass are starting to transition to an early spring type bite a little earlier this year. I have landed bass on a spoon vertical jigging and by casting out a Kastmaster and letting it sink down to  the depth of the suspended fish. Spinner baits are also working on the wind blown banks as well as jig and pigs worked though 30 feet of water. If the weather holds, jerk bait time will start earlier than normal.

The Norfork Lake water level is 547.76  holding fairly stable. The surface water temperature this morning was 48 - 49 degrees which is 4 - 5 degrees warmer than normal. The main lake is clearing and the creeks and coves are still stained, but I can see the water starting to clear.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird HIdeaway Resort - 870-492-5113

Norfork Lake's winter fishing pattern is in full swing. The bait fish are in the deep water channels of 80 - 100+ feet and the bait are suspended 50 - 70 feet down. Striped and hybrid bass can be found following the bait fish whether it is on the main lake or back in the major creeks. For most of last week I was fishing in the 62 bridge area, mainly to the south of the bridge. Later in the week the fish moved in between the 2 bridges. Today I was only marking a few stripers, so after a couple hours of looking and fishing with minimal success I decided to move into Float Creek. Immediately I was marking large balls of shad with small schools of stripers following. For the next hour it was total havoc on my boat. I was by myself with 4 live bait poles out. I had doubles on several times and ended up boating 5 stripers, but missed as many. I had bait set at 40, 50 and 60 feet deep, but all my strikes came from the 40 and 50 feet deep baits even though I was marking many fish 60 + feet deep. Today was the first day in over a week that vertical jigging with a spoon would have worked great since I saw multiple fish at one time at same depth. Large shiners, big river chubs and thread fin shad are the best choices for live bait. I had to clean one striper this morning since it could not swim away and found that its belly was full of 1 - 3 inch thread fin shad. If this winter is typical, the fish should stay at this depth and in these areas for the next 3 - 4 weeks. Towards the end of February and beginning of March the major creeks will be great places to look. The fish will start to go toward shallower water following the bait.

Small and largemouth bass, as well as, Kentucky bass fishing has also been good. The bass can be found along the deep water bluff lines. I have found many bass suspended 30 - 50 feet down in 60 feet of water. Early and late in the day they are moving in a little tighter to the shore line 15 - 25 feet deep, but still on the bluffs. You can vertical jig with a spoon, but this method can be difficult with suspended fish. Try casting out a grub, small spinners or blade baits to catch these suspended fish. On the windy days throw a spinner bait. Jig & pigs, other types of plastics and deep diving crank baits are also a good choice for the fish that move in tighter to the shore early and late in the day. Another good place for the Kentucky and Largemouth bass is near deep brush piles. Work the bottom with a spoon around the brush and you will pick up some nice fish.

Crappie are on and near the deep water brush piles. Look at sunken brush in 30 - 50 feet of water. The crappie will be inside of the brush (these are typically the bigger ones) as well as suspended over the brush. At times you will find them only 10 feet deep, but I have more success at 20 + feet deep this time of year.

The Norfork Lake level is currently stable, but has been falling slowly and sits at 547.88. The water temperature is fluctuating between 48 - 50 degrees. The warm days and nights are rising the water temperature slowly. The main lake is clear in most areas and the creeks and coves are stained. Currently Norfork Lake is in excellent fishing condition and the fish that I have been catching are fat and energetic. Make your plans now to come catch a few!

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

I hope everyone had great holidays and I wish all a fabulous New Year.

I have finally been able to get out on Norfork Lake. A holiday vacation and then cold weather kept me off the lake for a couple weeks, but I'm glad to be back!  Fishing on Norfork Lake has entered the winter phase of the fishing cycle, meaning the shad are going into deep water and the fish are following. In mid December I was catching fish on large flats in 40 - 60 feet of water. Over the last week I have found large schools of striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass out closer to the main river channel or main creek channels. I have been catching stripers in 60 to 100 feet of water and the fish are suspended 30 - 60 feet deep. My favorite winter time bait is a spoon. I find the fish and drop a spoon down to their depth and start jigging the spoon up and down. With cold water the jigging method should be slowed down. The fish are still active, but are starting to slow down and don't necessarily want to chase it. You can also troll with swim baits or Alabama rigs. The hardest part about trolling is getting your bait down to the correct depth. Down riggers, lead core line or in-line weights are different ways to get your bait down while trolling. Live bait is also working very well. During the cold months I use big shiners. The stripers seem to like them just fine. Over the last week I have found stripers in the major creeks such as Float and Panther. You will also find stripers from the 62 bridge area down to the Howard Cove area. The best part of winter fishing you do not necessarily need to be fishing at the crack of dawn. Monday afternoon I found large schools of feeding fish a 1 pm and it lasted all afternoon.

I will have a report on bass and crappie fishing on my next report as I have been concentrating on striped bass over the last week. I did pick up a nice crappie 70 feet deep while striper fishing. They can be anywhere in the cold water.

Norfork Lake surface water temperature Monday afternoon was 48.5 degrees. I do expect a slight rise in water temperature over the next several days due to the warmer than normal days and nights. Norfork Lake level is falling slowing and currently sits at 548.53. Periodic power generation is occurring during a large portion of the day. The main lake is clear, but the creeks and coves are stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

It has been a fun week fishing Norfork Lake. We have had several fishing guests at the resort this week and we all were catching fish. The bite for striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass is good. Vertical jigging with a spoon is a good method to catch these species this time of year. Big schools of fish are roaming large flats in 44 - 55 feet of water. Once you find the fish all you need to do is drop your spoon and jig it up and down bouncing it off of the bottom. If it is a school of feeding fish it won't take long until your spoon has been taken, then you need to make sure you give your rod a good jerk to set the hook. Electronic fish finders are very helpful this time of year as you are looking out in the middle of the lake for these fish. Sometimes mother nature helps you out and you find a flock of seagulls diving into the water feeding on shad. More than likely there is a school of feeding fish under the feeding birds. This only happens during the late fall and winter months as the seagulls are a migratory bird. Live bait is also working using either gizzard or thread fin shad. If you don't want to go out and net your own shad you can purchase brooder shiners. They will work very well in the cold water months. If you are live bait fishing you need to set your baits from 30 - 40 feet deep. Trolling is another method of striper fishing, but you need to get your baits down to the same depths as the live bait. Best places to look for stripers/hybrids and white bass are the big flats near the 101 bridge area, Big Sandy back in the 101 Marina area and back past Fouts Boat Dock. My bite really hasn't started until around 8AM and it can last till noon or later, as it did today. Later in the day the fish start to move to mouths of creeks and coves as well as out to the river channel in 60 plus feet of water.

Largemouth and spotted bass are also schooling. I have found large schools of fish in similar areas as the stripers, as well as, part way back into creeks out in the middle.  Look in 40 - 50 feet of water for these fish. When I can find a slight drop off on a flat that is near or on an old creek channel I have typically found a lot of fish and they don't move off this area as fast. One morning I caught over a dozen largemouth in the 2.5 - 3.5 pound range. Some bigger largemouth are starting to move in shallow to feed early and late in the day. This is a good time to break out your jerk baits and give it a try. On windy days a spinner bait is working great, but the old standby, a jig and pig, will always pick up some nice fish.

Norfork Lake level is falling slowly and currently sits at 552.44. The lake surface water temperature is also falling and currently is in the 54 - 55 degree range. The lake is still stained, but is a great fishing color.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Photo's taken over the last week.