Wednesday, March 11, 2020

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

Norfork Lake fishing has been good for most species over the last week. The weather has been fairly stable with cool mornings and warmer afternoons, but the lake level changes has affected the fish most, in my opinion. The Corps of Engineers has opened up a flood gate to evacuate some excess water from Norfork Lake. Our lake is dropping roughly 6 inches a day. What I have noticed is that a lot of the bait fish are moving out of the backs of the creeks and into the main lake or other coves that are close to the deep river channel. This has mainly affected the striped bass in the lake, but will also affect where the largemouth will start to feed.

The last several days I have been fishing back in a major creek in 15 to 40 feet of water. Each day I have noticed fewer bait fish in the area. When I moved out towards the mouth of the creek, I found more bait, but they have moved into coves and sometimes all the way to the back of the cove. When I find a large concentration of bait, I have found many largemouth and a few spotted bass
feeding heavily. Yesterday in 2 different coves, in roughly 15 to 20 feet of water there were many largemouth feeding close to the surface, as well as right on the bank. Small swimbaits and crank baits are both working, as are jigs worked along the bottom, from 5 feet of water out to 20 feet. I have also gotten into some good topwater action for largemouth. This action has only occurred when there is a lot of bait in the area. Topwater action can occur anytime of day so keep your eyes open.

Hybrid and striped bass are continually moving around in search of their food source. The common saying, when you find the bait the stripers will be nearby held true most of the time in recent days. The striped bass are feeding in very shallow water in the early morning and also in the latter part of the afternoon. Start looking at the shallow side of the lake for this species. They are on points with brush and cover. This is normal for spring time fishing, but it is happening a little earlier than usual. The other type of areas where stripers are showing up is in the backs of coves, but only if the bait has moved in. I have been trolling   Try both and see what the fish want.
Berkley Flicker Minnows, size #7 and #9. The 7 dives about 15 feet and the 9 dives about 20 feet. I am hugging the shoreline staying in 18 to 30 feet of water. I have found that the stripers are also relating to brush piles, so don’t hesitate to troll over the brush, but be prepared to lose a few lures. The other method of fishing for stripers is to cast out suspending jerk baits or 6-inch swim baits. Yesterday afternoon a few of our guests found stripers right on the bank, on a long shallow point. They were casting a swimbait up in 5 feet of water and retrieving slowing and getting hammered, almost as soon as the bait hit the water. With these shallow feeding fish, I would have to say that the stripers are continuing to feed after sunset so If you have interest in some
exciting fishing, start slow rolling a suspending jerk bait on shallow points after dark. Cast your bait as close to the shoreline as possible, then retrieve to the boat very, very slowly. I like to keep the bait on the surface or close to it. Some other fishermen like to jerk it once to get the bait down a couple of feet, then start the retrieval.

Like Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page for frequent fishing report updates. Our fishing derby for Hummingbird Hideaway Resort guests has also started, so if you like a little friendly fishing competition and a chance to win some cash or free stays for your big catch, give us a call at 870-492-5113. Our derby runs throughout the year.

Norfork Lake is dropping about 6 inches per day with both generators and a flood gate partially open. The current level is 556.04 feet MSL. The surface water temperature yesterday morning was 49 to 52 degrees. The lake is clearing, but still stained. If you head up river and up in the Bennett's area the water is still brown from the heavy northern rain a week ago.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort 870-492-5113 as of 3/3/20

The weather for Norfork Lake has finally changed for the better and has been stable for the last several days. The long-range forecast is for continued spring like temperatures and if it holds true the fish should get energized. The warmer weather has dramatically increased the surface water temperature to almost 50 degrees at daybreak and warmer during the daylight hours. I can definitely see a change occurring in some of our fish species.

I have mainly been striped bass hunting and fishing for the last several days. The last 2 days has been outstanding. The bait is still   I’ve noticed a few birds feeding heavily. When I reached them my graph lit up with fish. It was a huge school of hybrids. My first fish came on the shad colored Flicker Minnow, then I switched to casting a Kastmaster (blade type bait) and landed several others. By around 9AM the bait and fish both disappeared. This was the first large school of hybrid/striped bass I have found in some time, telling me that the start of the spring bite is not far off. This morning (3/3) I headed back to the same area and the bait and fish were gone. I moved to another creek looking for bait and decided to go all the way to the back. Once I got into about 15 feet of water, bait was all over the
place. I started to slow troll (roughly 1.3 mph) the Flicker Minnows. In 30 minutes, I had landed 5 largemouth and spotted bass and all were keeper size fish. I decided to head back to my original creek, but this time kept on travelling to the back of the creek. Once I reached 17 feet of water, my graph lit up with bait and big arcs. I threw out my two Flicker Minnows and started to slow troll again. It was not long until I hooked up, but lost the fish. The bite had started and each fish kept getting bigger. I ended up landing 5 striped bass and a couple of largemouth bass with the largest striper 14 pounds. Similar to the previous day, around 9AM the bait and the fish left the area.
predominately back in the creeks or some of the larger coves. Yesterday (3/2) I found large balls of shad in 30 to 40 feet of water halfway back in a major creek and on every bait ball there were at least 2, if not more big fish following. The bait that I have been finding has been anywhere from the surface down to 20 feet and sometimes to the bottom. Since the fish have been scattered I have started trolling a couple Berkley’s Flicker Minnow crank baits size # 7. My best colors have been the slick pearl silver (shad color) and the other is the
racy shad pattern. These baits dive to about 15 feet. I’ve had several fish hammer the bait and peel out drag then come off.

The best areas where I have found striped bass are back in the major creeks close to the creek channel. The large bait balls that I am finding, tend to be close to the creek channel. If you find a smaller creek that has some flowing water, check it out you will more than likely find bait and a good chance some nice fish.

One of the great things about the stripers hitting the Flicker Minnows is that I will be using the same baits trolling for crappie in similar types of areas in the next couple of weeks. For crappie fishing I try to troll close to the brush moving form brush to brush. Crappie will start to school very soon and will be roaming and staging for the spawn.

The lake was falling about 3 to 4 inches a day, but last evening our northern part of the watershed received a lot of rain and the lake actually came up about 3 inches with both generators running. Current lake level is 558.26 feet MSL. The lake surface water temperature is warming up and ranges from 49 to 52 degrees depending on time of day and
depth of water. The water in the mid-lake is stained, but you can see a constant clearing occurring.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

Winter seems to be dragging on for us here on Norfork Lake, but if the extended forecast is correct, spring may start showing up soon. We still have this week of inconsistent cool weather, but then things are supposed to change. I am ready! Highs in the upper 50’s & 60’s and lows in the 40’s are on the way. None to soon as the night bite for striped bass should start very soon. The night bite is when the striped bass and walleye head into the shoreline to feed after dark. One of the best fishing methods for this bite is to cast out a suspending jerk bait, such as a Smithwick Rogue. Cast the Rogue as close to the shoreline as possible, then do a very slow steady retrieval back to the boat and hang on. It is so much fun to hook
into a big striped bass when you can not see much. This bite typically starts around mid-March. Some think it gets going on the full moon in March. Hopefully the upcoming warmer weather will get it going soon.

Over the past week the striped bass bite has had its ups and downs, but I have had a couple of good days. Yesterday, Feb. 24, was a great day of catching some big fish. I started out fishing on a large main-lake flat in about 80 feet of water. There was a lot of bait in the area, at times the bait was from the surface down to 30 feet.  I was marking a few big fish inside of the bait. I started trolling with a Walleye Deep Diving crank bait that dives to about 20 feet. I landed a really nice striped bass (17# 2oz.) and a 7# hybrid. The interesting thing was that I caught both fish when I was making a turn and they hit the inside bait. The inside bait on a turn would be going slower and might be coming up a little. My baits may have been running a little too deep or the fish was wanting a slower moving bait. I then decided to see what the crappie where doing. I headed to a cove where the wind was blowing in. I checked out a brush pile in 20 to 35 feet of water. I caught a few short fish and started to move to the next brush. When I got out to the middle of the cove in about 40 feet of water, I found bait that was from 10 feet down to the bottom and marked a lot of fish. I thought most of the fish were largemouth so I threw out two Berkley Flicker Minnows that dive to about 14 feet. I started to slow troll with my trolling motor at about 1.4 mph and headed a little closer to shore. When I passed a secondary point in about 28 feet of water the Shad colored bait got hammered. I assumed I had a nice bass on the line. I set the hook and the fish just took off to deeper water. I knew instantly that I had a nice striped bass on the line. I only had 6-pound monofilament line on and the Flicker Minnow has 2 very small light treble hooks, so I knew I had to baby this fish. It took 20 minutes to land it, but it ended up being my personal best striper so far this year at 18.69 pounds.  During the battle I marked quite a few big arcs, and I think they were heading out of the cove. I continued to troll in the cove going back and forth between 25 feet of water and 40 feet of water, staying in the bait. After the striped bass, I got to land 4 really nice largemouth bass in the 3.5 to 4.5-pound range. One of the bass attacked the shad colored lure and the other three liked the other lure, which had a bright purple back. The bass seemed to hit every time I came out of the bait or right before I would start to go through the bait. Seeing bigger striped bass in shallow water is a great sign that spring is on its way.

March is transition month from winter to spring. There will be a lot of exciting changes to fishing during the month mainly due to the warming trend of the water. Crappie will begin to school and roam from brush to brush staging for their spawn. Walleye will be spawning with some of them coming off of their beds in the early part of the month. Bass will move in tighter to the banks and begin to feed heavily and we will start to see some topwater action for bass. As already mentioned above striped bass will be feeding very shallow in the dark and will start to stay in shallower water even after daybreak. A lot of fun to look forward to.

Norfork Lake is currently falling 3 to 4 inches per day with both generators running continuously. The surface water temperature has remained about the same, between 45 and 47 degrees. The water is stained in most places where I am fishing, but seems to be clearing daily. Most if not all of the brown water has fallen out leaving a greenish stained water, which is fantastic for fishing.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Norfork Lake is in its final stages of winter and spring is right around the corner. I can’t wait! I really enjoy winter fishing on Norfork Lake, but I am getting the warmer weather fever. Hahaha! We have several guests staying with us and a couple of them have been crappie fishing. Over the last several days they have caught many crappie, with most on the small side. Today was a different story. This morning they were jigging a ¼ ounce spoon in brush piles that were anywhere from 20 to 40 feet deep. They found some really nice slabs in 22 feet of water. The fish were buried in the brush. They ended up landing a dozen or so 12+ inch crappie and releasing all the smaller ones. This afternoon they went out for a short period of time and again landed a bucket full of nice crappie over 12 inches long. Over the last 5 or so years Norfork Lake has had several high-water events that lasted though out the spawn. High water is a benefit to the fishery as it adds new nutrients into the lake to help feed the new fry, as well as, provides plenty of new cover for the newly spawned fish to hide. To say the least, catching big slab crappie in Norfork Lake is common at this time and when you land a nice 15-inch fish, know that it came from the 2015 spawn year. Yes, it only takes about 4 years to grow to this this size. Over the next several weeks, as the water warms the crappie will begin to school and roam the banks from brush to brush in
pre spawn mode. This will be a great time to slow troll crank baits, such as a Flicker Minnow for these schooling fish.

Not only crappie have been positively affected by the various high-water events, but our bass population has also been greatly increased. Another of our guests has been trolling crankbaits in 20 – 40 feet of water and has done quite well with bass. Largemouth and spotted bass have been roaming close to the shorelines. They have been suspended out away from the bank down 10 – 30 feet deep. I was out looking for striped bass today and started to mark a lot of fish out in
deep water of 60 – 70 feet. The fish were anywhere from 5 to 30 feet down. I had live bait set at 30 feet and the spotted bass were just mauling the baits. I started casting out my ½ ounce chrome colored Kastmaster and letting it sink down to about 20 feet and the largemouth bass were just inhaling the bait. It takes about 8 seconds for my lure to reach this depth with 8-pound monofilament line. I slowly retrieve the bait with a jerk-stop-reel retrieval method.

Striped bass fishing has been a challenge as of late. I am finding stripers lying on top of bait that is so thick you can walk on it. The bait that I find back in one of the major creeks is only 10 – 20 feet down and is in places 20 – 30 feet thick. In a mid-lake creek, the bait is 50 – 60 down, but very few fish. The bait appears to go deeper in the clearer water. I have managed to catch a few, mainly on live bait, but I have picked up a nice fish on a swimbait, as well as, a couple fish trolling a deep diving crankbait, a Bandit Walleye Deep Diver. This morning (2/19) I found an area in the main lake out in 100 feet of water that has minimal bait, but there were
scattered stripers in the area. I did not reach this area until 11:30AM and got to land a nice hybrid. The fish were only 5 to 30 feet deep. As the water starts to warm the stripers will become more active.

As the spring time water temperature begins to rise, all species will become more and more active and aggressive. Most species will start to move in closer to the shore line to feed and topwater action will start to happen, first will be the largemouth bass. I know I am getting excited.

The surface water temperature this morning ranged from 45 – 47 degrees. The lake is fairly stable with a slight lowering of the lake level with both generators running continuously. The current lake level is 560.62 feet MSL which is roughly 7 feet over normal seasonal pool. Some coves and various areas of the lake are still discolored from the recent rains, but all the areas that I have been to are start to clear up nicely.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

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

Norfork Lake fishing has been an interesting experience this winter.  A typical winter pattern for striped bass never materialized. Normal in the past has been: bait goes to the deep-water river channel in the main lake and suspends 40 to 60 feet down and striped bass hide out within the bait and get active when they get hungry. It appeared that the normal pattern was starting to happen around the beginning of January, but then the lake level changed abruptly and affected the bait. The quick rise in the water level moved a lot of the bait into the creeks closer to the flowing water.  I have mainly been fishing from the 3 mid lake creeks north to the Bennetts Bayou area and anywhere in between.  I have fished the three mid-lake major creeks and have found bait in at least one of the creeks, if not all. Typically, I have found fish on the bait, but not all the time.  Bennetts Bayou area is another major creek where I have fished for striped bass and again can typically find a lot of bait and sometime fish will be in the area. Yesterday (2/11) I found some nice hybrids feeding in 30 feet of water along a shallow sloping bank. During this past weekend I did have several days that I found scattered bait with lots of scattered stripers in one of my normal deep-water main lake winter haunts. The fish were suspended 5 to 20 feet deep feeding on small schools of shad in 100+ feet of water. The water in this area is still a little on the brownish side. I have been using 3 different methods of fishing over the last week or so. Live bait has worked well at times for both the shallow fish, as well as, the deeper fish. I have also been trolling a Rapala deep diving crank bait, especial when the fish are higher in the water column. When you find th method, which is to vertical jig with a spoon, but this method has not produced well for me lately, even though this is typically a go to method of fishing for me at this time of year.
deep fish and want to troll you will either need a down rigger or use in-line weights with weights from 2 – 5 ounces depending on what depth you want to get to. The third method is to cast out a Kastmaster (blade bait) or a larger 6-inch swimbait with ½ - ¾ ounce jig head. I guess there is a 4
With the quick six-foot rise in the water level there was a lot of mud drawn into the lake. The northern part of the lake is still a little brown, but it’s finally starting to fall out. This mud line has also affected the bait. I am not sure of the technical reasoning behind it, but the bait that I find in the muddy water stays very high in the water column. I find the majority of the bait, as well as the fish, from surface down to about 20 feet or maybe 30 feet at the most. This isn’t to say you will not find a few fish deeper at times. When I am fishing in the mid-lake creeks where the water is much clearer, the majority of the bait will be 40 – 60 deep and the fish will be in the same depths.

I have not fished for bass or crappie over the past several weeks so not much to report. What I have noticed on bass is that when I get close to a deep-water bluff line, I mark many bass suspended down 20 – 40 feet   I have had several reports from friends that are crappie fishing and they are catching some nice fish. The crappie are still on 30 – 40 feet deep brush that come up to at least 20 feet. The crappie have been suspended on the tops of the brush pile.
feeding on shad.

If you want more frequent fishing information on Norfork Lake, follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook. Spring is quickly approaching, which is a prime time to fish our lake for all species. I am definitely looking forward to this time of year as all species go to shallower water and become really aggressive.

Norfork Lake level is starting to fall slowly with increased power generation and currently sits at 558.54 ft MSL. There is rainfall in the forecast for Wednesday (2/12) which may change the level slightly. This level is roughly 5 feet above normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 46 to 47 degrees. The main lake from the 62 bridge then north of bridge is brown to heavily stained. South of the 62 bridge the water becomes much clearer, in both the main lake and the creeks. I have not been north of Cranfield, but I have heard the Red Bank area is starting to clear somewhat.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Norfork Lake fishing is in its winter time pattern, but with some twists due to all the drastic weather changes. I guess this is normal, but when you go from 20 degrees to 60 degrees and then the water level changes 5.8 feet in a day, it tends to confuse the fish or at least it confuses me. 😊 Fishing would not be any fun if it was the same day in day out. With all the changes, it makes for a lot of searching different types of areas to see what the fish have decided to do. I guess it really is not the fish, but what the weather changes have done to the fish’s food source. Typically, as the water gets cold large schools of shad tend to migrate out to deep water in the main lake river channel. This was what was happening over the last couple of weeks. With the rain last weekend, what is typical has changed. The bait have moved out of the main
lake deep water. As of this morning, I found lots of bait half way back in creeks, but still in deeper water.

The movement of huge schools of shad effects the locations of striped bass. Over the last couple of weeks, I was finding and catching striped bass between the two main bridges on the lake. The fish were in 80 to 120 feet of water and suspended anywhere from 20 to 50 feet down. Today I couldn’t find any there in the main lake. I finally found that the shad had moved halfway back into the creeks. And when I found the bait, I started marking big arcs scattered though out the  I was also jigging a white 3/4 ounce spoon. About 20 minutes after I had set out the bait a huge school of fish came under the boat. The fish were from surface to the bottom. All of a sudden each of the live bait rods got buried and I hooked into one with my spoon, but it came off immediately. I landed the first fish (a hybrid), then went to the second rod and the fish swam under the big motor and broke off, the last fish just stole the bait off of the third rod. After all was said and done, I got to land one of the fish and the big school had vanished. It was very hectic while it lasted.  I kept moving around in this 75 – 85 feet of water. I had my spoon down to about 40 feet and I noticed a smaller school of fish at 55 – 60 feet down. I started dropping my spoon and the line went slack and the fight was one. The fish inhaled the spoon on the fall. I ended up landing a nice striped bass. After this I was still marking fish, but they were really scattered out.
bait. I set out 3 rods with live bait at 30, 35 and 40 feet deep.

Bass and crappie are also affected by the weather and water level changes. They may not travel for miles (like striped bass) following the massive schools of shad, but they may change what depth they like to feed at, in the same general area. What the crappie were doing before the 6-foot rise in water level was feeding at the top of the brush on 25 – 35 feet deep brush. They
were typically suspended down 12 – 20 feet deep. Small jigs or spoons have both been working well. Bass were also feeding in these same brush piles, but typically down toward the bottom of the brush. Bass were also on the shoreline 8 to 20 feet down and crank baits were working great. A couple of days ago I was back in a creek and found some nice schooling bass in 80 feet of water, suspended 30 feet down. I will be out doing a little crappie and bass fishing over the next week, so hopefully I will be able to figure out what this recent change to the lake has done to these species.

Norfork Lake surface water temperature this morning was 48 - 49 degrees. The lake level has risen a little less than 6 feet since last weekend and currently sits at 559.27. Most creeks and coves are stained, but the brown water from the heavy run-off is falling out. The main-lake is somewhat clear.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

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

Norfork Lake fishing has been really good over the last week for most species of fish. I have mainly been targeting striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass and have had a blast. The striped bass are on their fall feed before the cold winter months.

I have found large schools of fish in a feeding frenzy. The best bite for the last couple of days has started a little after sunrise and has lasted until late morning. This time of year, however, they tend to feed all day 😊 (No Joke) My third method has been to cast out a ½ ounce silver Kastmaster blade bait. I do modify this bait by adding a white feather/hair jig trailer to the hook. I actual buy treble hooks with the feather/hair tied on. Gamakatsu makes a nice one. I use size 4 on the ½ ounce blade bait. I have been counting down about 8 to 10 seconds after I cast out the Kastmaster, then I start to retrieve the bait with slight jerk and stop motion to get the bait acting like a wounded minnow. Trolling is another great method of fishing at this time. Swimbaits, A-rigs, crankbaits are all producing some nice fish. Keep the bait 15 to 25 feet down. The last bit of info is that nature is currently providing a natural fish finder. Migratory seagulls are here and if you see these birds flying in a certain area and dive bombing the water, go fish under the birds, there typically will be feeding fish under them. This happens annually in the fall and winter months and can be very helpful.
long especially on cloudy days with a little bit of wind. A
great example was last Saturday (12/8). I had a hard time finding feeding fish early, but at about noon the fish started to go crazy and the bite lasted all afternoon. The old belief that if you find bait there will be fish feeding at some point is really holding true at this time. Best locations for me have been the large flats in the mid-lake area, such as, Cranfield area, Mallard Point, 101 bridge, 101 Boat Dock area. There are others, but these are the ones I have been concentrating on. I am finding stripers in 35 to 50 feet of water with the fish at all depths. The bigger stripers and hybrids seem to be suspended up high in the water column, from 10 to 25 feet down. On the bottom I have found whites, but I have still found large schools on the bottom of the bigger fish. I have been fishing three different methods. I have used live minnows, such as threadfin/gizzard shad and bigger shiners. I set the live bait at 15 and 23 feet down, but I think it would also work to cast out the bait with a split shot and move around slowly. The second method has been vertical jigging with a spoon. Use a ½ to 1 ounce spoon. Drop your spoon to the bottom and jig it up and down off of the bottom. Be a little crazy with the spoon by using hard fast pulls and also very slowly moving the spoon. I have caught several nice stripers when my spooning rod was put in the rod holder
while I was answering the phone. The rod would just get buried. Keep an eye on your fish finder while you are jigging your bait on the bottom. When you start to mark fish up high reel your bait up and hold on. I have caught the bigger fish while reeling up and sometimes they hit it just before I take the bait out of the water. Have your drag set loose or your line will break off or you’ll get your rod pulled out of your hands.

Don’t forget to follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook and definitely press the like button for our page. I have frequent posts giving some great fishing information for that day.

Norfork Lake level is dropping very quickly at this time. The Corps of Engineers currently has the flood gates opened to bring the lake back to normal pool. The lake is currently dropping 6 or so inches per day and currently sits at 555.12 feet MSL. The surface water temperature has remained fairly stable over the last week and is in the 53 to 54 degree range. The lake is stained and will stay this way until the water level stabilizes.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.