We have a 16 cabin resort on Lake Norfork in the Arkansas Ozarks. We're in Mountain Home, rated one of the best outdoor towns in America. Also considered one of the best places in the US for retirement.
Norfork Lake's striped bass fishing is continuing to be very good. They have migrated to their beginning of summer pattern. The striped bass are deeper and are being caught 30 - 50 feet down in all different water depths. I have caught them on the bottom in 40 feet of water and also suspended in 100 ftee of water. This morning I fished with my daughter and oldest granddaughter. We ended up landing 8 striped and hybrid bass in two different types of areas. One area was part way back in a creek and the second was on a main lake point. The two biggest fish were 23 pounds and 16 pounds striped bass, with hybrids up to 9 pounds and other stripers up to 10 pounds. All but 3 fish were released, as three would not swim away. Live bait is working the best for me, but I have been fishing with my grand kids and artificial bait makes fishing a little more difficult. All sizes of live bait is working from 3 inch thread fin shad on up to 9 inch gizzards. Vertical jigging with a spoon is also starting to work. Find the stripers on your electronics and drop a spoon to the fish and start jigging up and down. If you get into a large school of fish and they don't hit it while jigging, drop it though them then reel up though the school and be ready for a fish to attack the bait. But in my experience they typically hit it on the fall. Trollers are also doing good dragging umbrella rigs or swim baits. The main thing is to make sure your bait is 25 - 45 feet deep or just above the fish you are marking on your graph. Topwater for striped bass has stopped, but hybrid bass are still coming up early in the morning close to points part way back into creeks. I am finding hybrids in the same locations as the stripers but they are feeding much higher in the water column, from the surface down to 20 feet deep. Topwater baits and swim baits are working well for artificial baits. Live bait is also very good by pitching them free line, meaning with no weight. Best places to fish for stripers and hybrids are from the mouths of Big Creek and Brushy Creek to the dam as well as from the Bidwell area to the dam. Yes, they are scattered thoughout the entire lake.
Largemouth and spotted bass fishing has also been good. You will find topwater action early in the morning until sunrise in the same locations as the stripers then again in the late afternoon right before sunset. In the morning, once the sun gets above the tree line they will go down so start working the bottom from 10 feet out to 30 feet deep with your plastics or jigs. You can also work bush piles in the 20 - 30 feet water depth and catch some quality fish.
I have been having too much fun striper fishing to go out crappie fishing, but anglers have been told me you can find some nice fish on brush in 20 - 30 feet of water back in the creeks. If you are staying at an area with a large boat dock that has some brush under it you can catch some really nice crappie pretty much all day long, when they decide to feed. Our dock is producing some good fish in the 13 - 16 inch range.
The lake level continues to rise slowly and currently sits at 556.98. Minimal power generation is occurring during the day and evening. The lake surface water temperature is in low to mid 80's, but varies depending on the location in the lake. The main lake is clear on the surface and the creeks and coves are stained, but appear to be trying to clear. I have been told a thermocline is forming, but I have not seen evidence of this at this time, but if not at this time we will have one very shortly with the warm temperatures.
Fishing on Norfork Lake continues to be good and the fish are starting to transition to their early summer pattern. Basically what I am saying is that the fish are starting to go deeper as the water warms. I have found stripers 20 - 40 feet down in 50 to 100+ feet of water. At this time they seem to be relating to the sides of the main channel on the main lake especially in places where the channel swings in close to the shoreline. If things are typical this year, you will find them on the deep flats early in the mornings then in the deep channels late morning and during the day. The stripers are feeding on shad and crawdads at this time so there should be a good bite before daylight. The hybrids and white bass are being found at all depths, including good topwater action for both of these species. The problem at this time is that they are travelling all over the place and may come up along the shoreline or out in the middle of the lake. When you are traveling keep a close eye out for white water as it could happen anywhere at any time.
Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing has also been good. Early in the morning they are still coming up for topwater baits and as the day wears on jigs and swim baits are the way to go. The after dark bite has also been good. The best spots where the anglers are finding these fish are on shallow points with buck brush out in the water. The deeper fish are out in 15 - 25 feet of water on the bottom. Rocky points are a great place to start fishing for bass.
Walleyes are continuing to bite and can be found in the same locations as the largemouth bass. Again early in the morning they are up shallow feeding then as the sun comes up they move out to 15 - 25 feet of water on the bottom. Vertical jigs and crawler harnesses are picking up some nice fish.
The current lake level is at 553.88 and holding fairly steady with one generator running continuously. The surface water temperature is warming and is in the mid 70's. The main lake is clear and the creeks and coves are once again starting to clear. All in all the lake is in great condition for fishing and for the summer time vacation lake lovers.
bite on Norfork Lake continues! Good top water action in the morning and then
again in the afternoon. Hybrids, stripers, whites and largemouth are chasing
shad to the surface then going wild. Top water action is a lot of fun. Spooks,
Kastmasters or just about any surface type bait will work. Just remember, if you
are walking the dog with your spook, make sure the fish takes the bait under
before you set the hook, don't stop your retrieval. Once the fish stops busting
the surface start looking at your fish finder and you will find them 20 -
40 feet deep. Once they go deep, throw your Kastmaster out and let it sink 10 seconds
or maybe a little more then start your retrieval with a crank, stop jerk stop,
then start all over again. Make that bait swim erratic. Live bait is also
working very well. Thread fin or small gizzard shad are the best, but large
shiners are also working. Today I went hunting for new locations to fish. I checked
out a lot of the areas that I think the fish will be at very shortly, but found very
few stripers. I did manage to land a couple stripers on live shad in one of my
regular locations. Once it was light I got distracted from my hunt with some top water
action on a main lake point. For the next 40 minutes I threw my spook and
landed many nice largemouth bass and big white bass, it was crazy. Around 8AM I
decided to head back to the area where my guests are fishing. I found a little
top water action still going on but it was winding down. I did start marking
some big arcs on my graph down at 40 feet. I dropped a couple of thread fin
shad down to 36 feet. While I was moving slowly I was casting my spook and the
largemouth bass were still very active. Landed a couple 19 - 20 inch long fish
then one of my down poles start to sing and I landed a nice 13 pound striped bass.
fishing has also been good both in the early morning, as well as right before
dark and after dark. Live shad is working as well as artificial baits. You can
work your Kastmaster back to the boat bouncing it along the bottom or cast out
a spoon and jerk it back to the boat along the bottom. You can still
catch a few casting a suspending jerk bait up to the shoreline and working it
slowly back to the boat. The jerk bait seems to be working in the morning
before sunrise. Mid day vertical jigging a spoon around brush is picking up a
few fish. The walleye seem to be hanging out at 15 - 25 feet depths on the bottom.
Norfork Lake level is falling slowing and currently sits at
553.35. The lake surface water temperature this morning was 72 degrees. The main
lake is clearing nicely, but the coves are stained and the major creeks are
getting clear. One generator has been running continuously.
Fishing Norfork Lake has been a blast over the last week. Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass fishing has been very good. Fish are up tight on the banks before sunrise and they stick around until the sun gets above the tree line. On a cloudy day they stick around longer like they did this morning. This morning (5/16) fishing was awesome. I got into some of the best top water action I have seen in a week. I was fishing in a main lake area on the shallow side of the lake, not bluff line side. There are a lot of small cuts in the shoreline with points that have brush out in the water. At around 6AM I noticed a few fish coming up out in the main channel. I started to head out but heard splashing behind me and turned around to find the whole shore line and all the cuts were boiling with fish. Every cast with my Zara spook I either had several hits and misses or had a fish. This lasted until about 8AM. I landed over 20 fish and I caught myself giggling a few time. It was fun! Top water action for stripers and hybrids should last until the water temperature warms the lake enough to form a thermocline. Mother nature will have the final say on this. When the stripers leave the shallow water in the morning start looking out in deeper water and you should find them suspended down to about 30 - 40 feet deep. Live thread fin shad has been working the best for me with just a small split shot. Artificial baits that have also produced fish have been a Kastmaster spoon with buck tail and smaller sized swim baits 3 - 4 inches long. There has also been some good white bass top water action in the late afternoon. They could be anywhere from deep to shallow water, but the most consistent spots are part way back in some of the major creeks.
Largemouth and spotted bass fishing has also been very good. They have been in the same areas as the stripers early in the morning, but unlike the stripers, they don't necessarily move out once the sun comes up. Swim baits, spinner baits on windy days and tube jigs are working well. They are moving to the bottom once the sun gets high in the sky so work a jig and pig or your favorite plastic bait along the bottom up to 25 feet down.
Walleye fishing has been good. I have found some nice fish while striper fishing on shallow points down 15 - 25 feet. Anglers have also picked up a few on a Zara spook right on the shore line before sunrise.
No change on pan fishing, both bluegill and crappie are biting. Look for the gills inside of bluff line cuts 20 - 30 feet deep on the bottom. Worms and wax worms are working great. Crappie are in or around brush and under docks. Small live thread fin shad is the best bait, but crappie minnows with a small jig is working as well.
The Norfork Lake level is slowly falling and currently sits at 553.95. The lake surface water temperature is holding fairly stable and is ranging from 69 degrees to 71 degrees. The creeks and coves are stained and the main lake is clear on the surface. One generator has been running continuously.
Fishing on Norfork Lake has been great over the last week. Fishing has stayed fairly consistent, but the fish are starting to move around a little. They have stayed in the same general area, but one day they are on the west side of the lake then the next they may be on the east side. It will take a little time scanning areas with your fish finder, but when you start to see some bait, stop and fish. All fish species seem to be relating to points, whether a shallow long point or a deep bluff line point.
Striped bass fishing has been outstanding this past week. I believe every one of my guests caught hybrids/stripers during their vacation. The stripers moved from the deep bluff line side of the lake to the shallow sloping bank side of the lake during the week. I have been fishing in a main lake area that has plenty of points, coves and bluff lines. There has been good top water action in early mornings and a Zara spook is working well. Other artificial baits that are catching fish are a silver Kastmaster with bucktail, rattle traps, rooster tails, and swimbaits. Live thread fin shad has also been an outstanding bait and it really has not mattered what size the live bait is, as I have caught stripers on 3 inch baits up to 6 inch baits. Look for stripers in very shallow water starting just before sunrise. Anglers are finding them in 5 - 40 feet of water and the fish are near the surface. As the sun comes up look for stripers in the same type areas, but go out to deeper water and look for the fish to be suspended 20 to 30 feet down.
White bass fishing is also becoming very good. There has been great top water for whites early in the morning and late in the afternoon. I have found the whites in the same locations as the stripers, but also on occasion in very deep water chasing shad on the surface. Same type baits for stripers are working for whites.
Walleye fishing is picking up and guess what, they are in the same areas as the stripers and whites in the early mornings. I was fishing with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law this morning and we found some good fish on a shallow point in about 15 feet of water. We should have had several other walleye but things happen. :-)
Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing is also very good. They are chasing shad in the same areas as the stripers and can be caught on similar type of baits. As the sun comes up start using some sort of plastic bait worked slowly along the bottom. The bass will be a little deeper but not typically deeper than 20 - 30 feet down.
Pan fishing has also been good. Look for bluegills along bluff line cuts in 20 - 30 feet of water. Wax worms and earth worms are working great. Crappie have moved onto the brush. Look for brush in 20 - 30 feet of water and the fish are hanging around the tops. Use small grubs tipped with minnows or just minnows.
Norfork Lake level is falling slowly with constant generation. Current level is 553.29. The surface water temperature was 68 - 70 degrees this morning. The creeks and coves are stained and the main lake is clearing.
Overall, Norfork Lake fishing is good to excellent. Top water action for stripers, hybrids, whites and largemouth bass is occurring at sunrise and sunset. Now, top water action is not always occurring in the same location every morning, but typically will be somewhere in the general area. If you find a large concentration of bait on the service there is a very good chance a school of fish will erupt on that bait at some time. Some days you will see a large area start to boil with fish going crazy, but other times you might just see some swirls on the service. Cast some sort of top water bait at the swirl or boiling water and hang on. Top water many also occur at any depth of water, close or far away from the shoreline.
Striped and hybrid bass fishing has been great the last week, including this morning. I landed 5 hybrids and 3 stripers on both a Zara Spook and live thread fin shad. There were fish coming up along a bluff line down from a main lake point. You can find the fish up tight on the banks early in the morning and as the sun comes up, they move out from the shore a little and have been 5 to 20 feet down, no matter what water depth. I have been trying to leave my dock at 5AM to get into some night time action with a stick bait or I pitch a thread fin shad to the shore line with no weight. Both baits have been working picking up stripers, hybrids and walleye in the dark. I have been long lining live bait with a 1/16 ounce or a 1/8 ounce split shot and slowly moving about with my trolling motor. This has been effective in both shallow and deep water. Good artificial baits to use are a blade type bait or a swim bait, just get either of them to the proper depth of the fish. Saturday morning Brian, a guest of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort, landed a monster 35 pound striped bass. He was fishing with a small 3-4 inch thread fin shad and had the battle of his life. This fish will be a wall fixture. I have been fishing mid to the upper portions of the lake, but I have many reports that striped bass fishing is also good in the southern portion of the lake.
Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing is also very good. Many of the fish have completed their spawn and now are on the post spawn feed, Early and late in the day you can get this species with a top water bait or swim bait. They tend to go down deeper as the sun comes up. Switch to a jig & pig or some sort of plastic bait and work it along the bottom from 5 feet to 17 feet of water. Most of the bass I am marking, no matter what time of day, are in less than 20 feet of water.
Pan fishing is also picking up. A couple of our guests caught a boat load of big blue gills in the middle of the day off of bluff line cuts. If you can find a good ledge that is around 30 feet down they will be hanging out. Wax worms were their bait of choice. No need to sit indoors in the middle of day, blue gills are a great eating fish. Crappie are moving into brush in 20 - 30 feet of water. They typically will be on the tops of the brush or between the brush and the shoreline.
Catfish are starting to move into the shore line. Trotlines are picking up a few good fish. I caught a nice 6 pound channel this morning on live shad in 20 feet of water.
The Norfork Lake level is rising slowly with the past couple days of rain. The current level is 553.57. The surface water temperature has also risen to 67 degrees as of this morning. Parts of the main lake is clear, but many areas are stained due to the rains. The creeks and coves are also stained. Great fishing color to the water.
Norfork Lake is in spring fishing mode. Top water action for striped/hybrid bass, largemouth bass and white bass has started in the early morning, as well as late in the day. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass have moved to the banks for their spawn. Some of the bass are starting to move off the beds, but many are still on their beds. Shad have also started their first spawn of the year. You can find shad early in the morning up on the banks and I have also felt the eggs on my dock. I found out this morning that the shad spawn is making the fish very active. I am going out on a limb to say that if you want to catch striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and white bass it is time to come to Norfork Lake NOW!! This is no marketing ploy. I will be able to tell you where to fish and what the best bait for me has been. If you like live bait fishing you will have a blast!
The bass bite is still strong and will even get better after the spawn has completed. During the recent Bass Masters Elite tournament, over a 4 day period, 108 anglers brought to the scales 1,006 fish the first 2 days then 50 anglers brought in 229 fish and yesterday's final with 12 anglers brought in 59 fish at an average weight of 2.5 pounds per fish. That is a total of 1,294 fish ranging in weights up to a little over 6 pounds. Of course this doesn't include the hundreds of short fish and keeper sized fish that were culled out. That is a lot of fish! The anglers fished Norfork Lake the 1st and 4th day and Bull Shoals day 2 and 3. It was great meeting some of the professional fishermen as well as talking with some of the associated fishing businesses such as Berkley. Jigs and swim baits are both working very well. Darker colors in the crawdad browns and greens are a great color. Worms in the
peanut butter and jelly color are working as well. Bass are being caught in both the stained water as well as the clear water.
Saturday I headed out on the lake around 6PM looking for active fish. As I was almost to my 3rd spot to graph I saw a little flurry of activity from shad on the surface. I stopped and all of a sudden the white bass start busting the surface around me. From 6:30 until the sun dropped below the tree line I caught big white bass. With almost every cast there was a fish on the end. I had my silver Kastmaster with bucktail tied on and I started casting and getting hammered as soon as it hit the water. It was a blast and had me smiling ear to ear! I was sitting in 45 - 50 feet of water on a large deep flat area in front on a small cove/creek. At times the fish erupted in the main channel which was almost 90 feet deep in this area. Keep your eyes peeled at all times especially early in the morning and late in the day, but any species could erupt at any time of day.
Striped/hybrid bass fishing is also picking up. I myself have mainly been fishing after dark with a shallow diving suspending stick bait until this morning. This morning was one of the best days for striped bass I have had this year, so far. :-) I landed over 10 stripers in the 9 - 14 pound range and 3 big hybrids. I caught stripers on top water with a Zara Spook as well as live thread fin shad. The stripers and hybrids were just crushing both the live bait and the spook. The shad was working the best. I only had 2 free swimmers out with a very small split shot and could not keep up with all the doubles I was getting. I broke off and bent many kahle hooks. The fish were hungry and aggressive this morning.
Back to the night bite info - With the full moon, a lighter and brighter color of stick bait has been working. The color that seems to be working the best for me has bright yellow on the sides and bright purple on the top. Before the full moon I was using a dark green color on top and orange on the bottom. I have been getting numerous bites over the last couple of days after dark, but have only been able to boat a couple per night. I can hear the big fish feeding on the surface but they are not necessarily on the banks with this big bright full moon. For morning striper fishing, start looking at points especially if you can find some buck brush still in the water. The shad will be spawning in the brush and the stripers will not be far behind. As the sun gets high in the sky look out in the deeper water and you will start marking cruising fish at 20 to 50 feet deep.
Crappie fishing is starting to pick up but has not really taken off at this time. Look for crappie back in the creeks on shallow brush. They will be on the brush or suspended between the bank and the brush. Small jigs and crappie minnows will work the best.
Norfork Lake level is stable with sporadic power generation for level maintenance and currently sits at 552.90. The main lake is clear on the surface. The creeks were also clearing up but over the last couple of days more color in the water appeared. The lake surface water temperature has risen to the mid 60's and this rise was very quick. The fast rise in water temp. may be the cause of the water color change.