Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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

January has brought our normal significant weather pattern changes. About 12 days ago we went from the 50's to single digits for about 6 days and even had several inches of snow. Over the last several days we were back in the mid 60's but here we go again with a slight cool down. All of these changes in the weather affect what the bait and fish do. On the 10th of January large schools of fish were feeding in about 60 feet of water, but after the cold snap the hybrids and stripers disappeared, even though the bait was still hanging around. Normal winter time striped bass fishing would have the fish out in the deep water channels feeding on suspended bait in 40 - 60 feet down. The bait is there, but only scattered fish are showing up. With the cold weather and snow, the water temperature dropped about 3 - 4 degrees, but over the last several days the surface water temperature has risen 2 to 3 degrees. All of the changes confuse the fish as well as the fishermen, including me.

We had several fisherman staying with us over the weekend all fishing for stripers, a few were caught, but it was tough going. The areas where I found fish were in the Henderson area close to the bluffs. Big balls of shad were being pushed into the bluffs by the west wind and there were a few stripers hanging around 30 feet down. Both spoons and live shiners caught fish. Yesterday, I was out fishing from the 62 bridge area all the way down to Fouts Marina and only marked a few lone fish. I did more looking than fishing. I heard from a friend that he found  stripers in very shallow water a few days ago, so I guess I am going to need to think outside the box and look at areas that I would typically avoid this time of year. The last two days the wind was howling so I elected to stay at the resort today instead of fish. I will be back at it in the morning and start the hunt again.

I ended my fishing excursion yesterday by doing a little bass fishing. I headed into a cove that the wind was blowing very strongly into. I stopped on a secondary point and found large balls of shad next to the the shore and a few shad  floating on the surface. I tied on a Rogue (a shallow running suspending jerk bait) and started casting to the shore. I gave the bait a couple of hard jerks to get it down, then let it rest for a few seconds, then start twitching the bait softly, then stopped. I did this back to the boat. On the second cast the bass started to get active and I landed 3 largemouth bass in a very short period of time. No monsters, but fun. The wind was blowing so hard that the waves were starting to splash over the boat so I called it a day. The other location where my guests were finding bass was along deep bluff lines. The fish were about 30 feet deep. Live bait was catching these suspended largemouth and spotted bass.

A few small shad are starting to die from the cold water, which is very normal for this time of year. If you can find a school of shad that are distressed, on the surface and close to the shoreline, there will more than likely be bass in the area feeding away. I started to see a little of this yesterday, but I really could not tell if the shad were distressed or just being blown into shore from the strong wind.

Norfork Lake is currently stable and sits at 546.46 feet above sea level. The lake surface temperature yesterday was around 45 degree (+/- one degree). The main lake if finally starting to show some sign of clearing as well as the creeks and coves. The weather forecast for the rest of the week is to be around normal, 40's to 50's in the days and high 20's to low 30's at night.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

Happy New Year to all of my followers - Wishing you many fun and exciting fishing trips!

Norfork Lake's fish have moved to their winter time pattern. The lake water temperature this morning has dropped to 44.5 - 45.5 degrees in the main lake (near our resort) and cooler back in the shallower creeks and coves. With the drop in lake water temperature, shad tend to move to deep water.  I have been marking a lot of bait in the main river channel predominantly 30 - 40 ft deep in 70 - 100+ feet of water. I also checked out some flats and the bait typically started to show up when I got to 40 - 45 feet of water and was suspended from 30 feet to the bottom.

It has been a while since I last reported, and has actually been a couple weeks since I have been on the lake. My wife and I visited our grandkids in Texas over the holidays, but I am finally back fishing Norfork Lake. Over the last two days I spent a lot of time looking and graphing to see what the bait and fish have been doing. I mainly have been searching for striped and hybrid bass. Yesterday (Monday 1/8) I headed east out of our resort to the bridges. This is typically a great winter time place to catch striped bass. I marked some bait, but very few fish. I then checked north of the bridges and found bait in the mouth of the cove near 101 boat dock, but was not marking many fish. With the amount of bait in this area there will be fish there very soon. Of course I checked out several areas between our resort and the 101 Boat Dock area, but nothing I saw was very exciting at this time. A friend told me he had been trolling and catching stripers north of Cranfield, so I headed back towards our resort and went up river. Again I found bait, but this time I also marked fish. No schools, but a lot of 2 to 3 fish swimming together fairly consistently. I started fishing in about 50 feet of water in the mouths of several coves. I was vertical jigging with a 1 ounce spoon and found fish suspended 30 feet down. I spooned up a nice hybrid and a striped bass. I then headed over to the river channel and started to head up river a little farther. I found bait 40 feet down in 80 feet of water and started marking fish on top of the bait so I started spooning again. I got 4 big pull downs, but missed them all. I guess I need to practice more on my hook setting technique for these deep water fish. :-) The fish were actually inside of the bait. I had some guests fishing the same area, but slightly farther north in the channel and they landed 3 nice stripers with one over 20 pounds. My guests were using live shiners set at about 30 feet down. This morning I headed back towards Cranfield and checked out several other areas, but ended up in the river channel and again found fish buried inside of the bait 40 feet down, but I had the same results as yesterday, 5 great hits, but missed them all. Guess I will get them next time.

There are 3 very good methods of winter time fishing for striped bass. Vertical jigging with a spoon is one fun method and a big thrill. You will be jigging the spoon up and down and all of sudden the rod decides it does not want to jig up and gets buried. Make sure you are holding on tight. One important tip for winter time jigging is to slow down your presentation. Small twitches of your rod tip typically works better than the fast and large pull ups. Live bait fishing is another good method to catch stripers. All you need is live brooder shiners, a 2 ounce weight tied to your line with a 3 - 4 foot leader, and a number 4 to a number 1 size hook. I try to match my hook size to the size of bait I am using. Set your bait right at the top of the bait you are marking, fish will come up for the bait, but typically will not go down after it. The third method that is currently working really well for some is trolling an umbrella or alabama rig. When I troll I like to use 5 inch swim baits (Reaction Innovation's Skinny Dippers are one of my favorites). You will need to get your bait down to a 20 - 35 feet depth. Down riggers are the easiest method to get your bait down deep, but you can also use weighted umbrella rigs or you can use in-line weights.

I have not fished for bass or crappie yet, but will shortly. I did notice yesterday morning, as I was heading out about 7:30AM, that there were a few fish coming up next to the bank. They looked small, but sometimes it is hard to tell. Might want to check out a jerk bait. Typically the bass that I catch this time of year are in deeper water 30 - 50 feet down on the bottom close or near brush.

The Norfork Lake level is falling slowly and currently sits at 547.86. The surface water temperature this morning was 44.5 - 45.5 degrees. The lake is stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

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

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

Norfork Lake striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass are still in their fall pattern, but you can see signs of the bait and fish starting to transition to their normal winter patterns and locations. As the water cools the bait tends to move out to deeper water and gets to a depth typically 40 - 60 feet deep. As you can guess, the big predators move with the bait.

Over the last week I have concentrated on finding and trying to catch our trophy fish in Norfork Lake, striped bass. Normally this time of year I fish large flats in the lake in 35 - 50 feet of water. Cranfield Island flat, Mallard Point flat, 101 bridge flat, and Big Sandy Flat east of the 101 Boat Dock are my typical fishing holes. This year it has been a little different from prior years. My guests and I have found large schools of striped and hybrid bass on these flats, but it has been hit or miss. If the bigger fish are not there you can just about be guaranteed that  white bass will be on the flats. Some of the whites I have caught are in the 2 - 3 pound range. I moved around the last week and started fishing way up creek near 6B in Bennetts Bayou and found stripers were  but they started to move out towards the main lake during the week. Large schools of stripers moved a couple of miles out of the creek to slightly warmer water and are located south and east of the 6A marker. in 35 - 50 feet of water. Yesterday (12/19) I decided to check out a creek in the mid lake area. The water gets a little warmer as you head south. I started fishing a little before sunrise and saw shad flipping. When I got closer to the bait a large school of fish showed up. I had 2 live bait poles out with threadfin shad and was vertical jigging with a spoon. I hooked up on all three rods at the same time. What a fun dilemma! My fish on the spoon came unhooked and one of the live bait poles broke off, but I did manage to land a really big hybrid. I could see the bait starting to move out of the cove so I followed. I ran into the school again and landed a couple more hybrids and a couple of whites. The fish continued to move out and I found them one more time. It was a lot of fun for an hour or so. After that I moved out to the main part of Float Creek and marked bait with scattered bigger fish and got plenty of bites on my live bait, but they would only take the back half of my baits so no hook ups after the early morning schools of feeding fish. A friend was trolling in the same area and the fish were loving it. He had one hook up after another, it was fun watching. The scattered fish were suspended about 10 - 20 feet down, but as the morning wore on I was marking them close to the bottom around 35 - 40 feet deep.

Norfork Lake water level is falling slowing with sporadic power generation and currently sits at 549.84 feet above sea level. The lake surface water temperature ranges from 52.5 degrees to 54.5 degrees depending what part of the lake. The water is still stained with the main lake having about a 5 - 6 feet visibility. Great fishing conditions on Norfork Lake at this time.

Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's  annual fishing derby has come to a close with a lot of fun for our guests during the year. The winners of each species won $350. The winner of the big striped bass was John James of IL, big crappie winner was Joe Cebula of KS and the big smallmouth bass was won by Debbie Biesboer of IL. The winner of the free week stay drawing was Karen and Dan Solverson of WI. Congratulations to all. Details about our 2018 Derby will be coming in the new year.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

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

Norfork Lake fishing has been good, but different from prior fall seasons. Fish are located pretty much in the same areas as prior years, but they are much more scattered rather than schooled up in tight schools of feeding fish. When I find a school of fish they are located at all depths and not bunched up. This is not a bad thing, but does make me change my fishing tactics a bit.

Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass are being found in several different types of areas. They are located on the flats and the striped bass are also scattered in deeper water back in the major creeks. I typically start out in the morning at sunrise and start checking out the flats near our resort, Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. I first check out the Mallard Point flat, I may go to the Cranfield Island flat, then head to the 101 bridge flat and if needed I motor over to Big Sandy flat a little past 101 Boat Dock. I am looking at depths from 25 feet of water out to 45 feet of water. What I have found the last couple of days is that the fish are in 25 - 30 feet of water at sunrise and  seem to stick around for an hour or two. As the morning wears on they move out to deeper water and yesterday (12/11) at around 11AM I found them in 42 feet of water. I have caught big hybrids and big whites on the flats, but the stripers that I have caught on the flats have been small. The bigger stripers will move to the flats very soon. The last couple of days I fished the 6B area and landed a really nice striped bass on live bait, but yesterday (12/11) I fished the same area and the bait and fish had disappeared. I believe the 53 degree water has gotten a little too cool for the shad so they are migrating out to deeper water, and the stripers are following. I marked lots of shad and many striped bass in front of Fouts marina as I was heading back to the Big Sandy area. The stripers are scattered throughout the area making them tough to catch with a spoon. Trolling or casting A-Rigs or swim baits may be the easiest method to pick up these scattered fish and as always live bait will work wonders, but you will need to keep moving around until you come across the fish that want to eat. The stripers that I have found in deeper water are still suspended from 15 feet of water down to 40 feet of water and typically near bait. You will run across that big school of fish so when you do, vertical jigging a spoon will work great. I have not been up to the Red Bank area, but I would think the fish that have been up in the Missouri waters are also migrating somewhat south to a slightly higher water temperature.

Largemouth bass fishing has been a little tough, but you can pick up some really nice fish in deeper water. For about the first hour as the sun is rising there are many bass up in shallow water. Many of the bass are small, but you will pick up the occasional nice sized fish. Shallow diving crank baits, jerk baits and topwater baits are picking up a few fish. As the sun rises the fish are going a little deeper. Start casting out a jig and pig in 15 - 25 feet of water along bluff line points and in areas where the channel is swinging in close to shore. Another good location is close to sunken brush. I was striper fishing with live bait the other morning and also jigging a spoon. I got into about 25 feet of water and started to pick up a few largemouth off of the bottom. On those windy days go to the wind blown banks and try casting a spinner bait.Windy days are always a great time to pick up some really nice fish.

Norfork Lake level is dropping slowly with some power generation going on and currently sits at 550.68. The lake surface water temperature is dropping slowly. It ranges from 55.5 degrees on the main lake to 53 degrees back in the major creeks. The water is clearing slightly on the main lake with maybe 5 - 6 feet of visibility to stained in the creeks and coves.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

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

Norfork Lake had a great spawn this year. There are many white bass, largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass in this lake. When you are fishing you will catch many smaller fish, but you will catch your fair share of the larger hybrids, stripers, crappie, white bass and large & smallmouth bass as well. I had many of our family members with us over the holiday and we got to fish most days. We caught many fish, not a lot of the big stripers and hybrids, but we did manage to land a few. As you would guess, as soon as all had to leave I started to find  hybrids early in the morning in the same areas where we were fishing.

I am still fishing the flats and have found that at day break there are big fish feeding in shallower water. I landed big 10 pound hybrids the last 2 days sitting in 17 feet of water and casting out a Kastmaster. When I retrieve my bait I let it sink about 6 to 8 seconds then I reel a little, then jerk and let it sink a little, then start it all over again until I get to the boat. The fish have typically hit the bait while it is falling. I am guessing I am 8 to 15 deep with my bait. After this early morning bite I have been vertical jigging with a spoon. I look for the bait and typically will find the fish feeding. I drop a spoon to the fish and start jigging. Most of my fish are off the bottom, but I am seeing many suspended fish which appear to be the bigger ones. You want to reel up to the suspended fish and jig at their level. I have been fishing several flats, Big Sandy a little east of 101 boat dock, the flat in front of Fouts ramp and campground, the flat before you get to 6B which we call the cow pasture. Going west of our resort, Hummingbird Hideaway Resort, I have fished the big flat in front of Mallard Point, Cranfield Island flat and heading up river to Seward Point flat. There are whites on all these flats and you will run into schooling hybrids and stripers at any time. I have had a friend fishing Big Creek with live shiners and doing very well back by 1C and Reynolds Island for striped and hybrid bass.

Crappie are biting fairly well. They are on brush in 20 - 35 feet of water and can be at any level depending on the time of day you are fishing. The crappie are mostly on the brush, but have been moving off the brush in towards the shoreline  later in the day. Live bait is working the best, but spoons and small jigs are still picking up some nice sized fish.

Bass fishing has not really changed from my last report. I am still finding them on the flats in 30 feet of water feeding on shad. Typically when I find them they are on the outside edge of the flat which is coming close to a deep channel or an old creek channel. Jigging with a spoon works for me to catch these fish, but casting out a heavy jig will also pick up these fish. You could also try a finesse Ned Rig once you locate the fish. Crank baits are also picking up a lot of fish, most  on the small side, but with several keepers. Look at casting on the wind blown points along the bluff lines. Jigging around brush piles is also a very good area to pick up some nice fish. Bait is typically inside of the brush so the bass will be hanging around the outside of the brush wait to ambush that stray shad.

I have had guests walleye fishing and doing well right before and just after dark, casting suspending jerk baits up to the shore on the shallow banks. The moon is starting to get big so the walleye bite will even get better after dark.

Norfork Lake level is falling very slowly and currently sits at 551.73. The lake surface water temperature is 58 - 60 degrees and falling very slowly. The water is still stained both on the main lake as well as in the creeks and coves. The water clarity will get clearer the closer you get to the dam.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

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

Linda and I wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving holiday. We are lucky to have family visiting from out of town so look out Norfork Lake fish we will be coming for you!

Fall fishing on Norfork Lake is in full swing. This year has been a typical fall so far, cold fronts then warm fronts and anywhere in between. One of the most important things about fall fishing Norfork Lake is to be prepared with plenty of warm layered clothing.

I have mainly been fishing main lake flats and have been catching every species in the lake. I am a creature of habit and continue to use two types of baits, a spoon for vertical jigging and a blade type bait. The Kastmaster is my favorite blade bait. I typically fish the mornings and the bite has been pretty consistent. At day break I am finding fish up shallow from 8 - 20 feet of water. Many mornings I see seagulls feeding on dead shad that the fish are leaving behind. I start off casting my Kastmaster into this shallow water to catch the feeding fish. There has been some top water in the early mornings, but not everyday. The best thing about the fall bite is that you never know what species you will be catching. Striped bass, hybrid bass, white bass as well as large & smallmouth bass, walleye and the occasional catfish will all hammer the Kastmaster or spoon at any time. As the morning wears on the bait will start to migrate out to a little deeper water. Typically by 8 or 9AM the bait is being found in 30 - 40 feet of water and the fish will be close by. I am finding large schools of fish that are at all depths. This is when I start using my spoon and vertical jig it at the depth of the fish, whether they are suspended at 10 feet or on the bottom at 40 feet. I have been fishing on the flats in the Cranfield area, Seward point,  Red bank area, as well as the flats before you get to 6B and 6A in the Fouts and Bennetts areas. I have had credible reports that the afternoon bite for striped bass has been good down south in the Big Creek area as well as back in the Bennetts area.

I am still finding some really nice largemouth bass on the same flats mentioned above. Where I typically find the bass is in the area on the outside ends of the flats where a deep channel is swinging in close to the flat. The water depth has been 28 - 32 feet of water and this has not changed for the last 4 weeks. A second area where I found some nice largemouth bass was on a deep bluff line point. I was in 100 feet of water and found bass  suspended down 15 - 20 feet. I was able to pick up a couple nice fish jigging a spoon at their depth. Crank baits are also picking up some nice fish along bluff lines. I really have not found any consistent top water action for largemouth, but this is the time of year that they should start coming up in the mornings and late afternoons. The water temperature is close to being in the upper 50's so it should be getting close to jerk bait time.

The surface water temperature this morning was in the upper 50's to very low 60's. Nofork Lake is very slowly lowering and currently sits at 552.27. Most of the lake is stained to off color, but still a very good fishing color. Periodic power generation is occurring mainly to maintain the water level.

We're looking forward to having the Bassmaster's Team Championship Tournament on Norfork Lake early in December. It should be a fun time for all.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

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

Norfork Lake fishing has been fun for many of our guests over the last week. Whether fish are big or small it is always fun to be out on the lake and reel in a fish. Fall has arrived with its varying weather patterns which seem to change daily, 80's one day and the next in the 40's and 60's. It seems that the cooler the weather the better the fish bite. Over the last week I have seen a big change in the location  and the size of the fish. The bigger fish are starting to move in.

Striped bass fishing has been mediocre for the last several days, but today I believe most of our guests caught a few hybrids and/or stripers. This may be the sign that the stripers are finally coming out of their deeper habitat and are wanting to feed. At the beginning of last week I saw the bait migrate back into the creeks. I found large schools of striped bass and hybrid bass back in Float Creek as well as back in Bennetts Bayou. The massive amount of bait has since moved out of Float and are back on the flats. The main lake flats are typical locations for stripers at this time of year. If you are looking on one of the flats, concentrate your efforts in 30 - 50 feet of water. This is not to say the striped bass will not be up in 20 feet or less of water feeding at night or very early in the morning. The bite for my group of guests has started after sunrise and starts to slow by late morning. Vertical jigging a spoon has been the bait of choice for most. Once the fish are found a blade type bait, such as a Kastmaster has been working well. Swim baits with at least a 1/2 ounce jig head on it to help it sink should also produce some nice fish. Casting out an Alabama rig produced some nice hybrids and white bass for one of my guests last weekend.

White bass have been really plentiful this year. There are mixed sizes of fish in the schools, from 8 inches long up to the monster 14+ inch fish. This species can be found on the same flats as the stripers. You will find school after school of whites then all of a sudden the stripers and hybrids will show up. Over the last week it has been possible to catch 50 - 60 fish of all sizes in a very short period of time which is a blast. I have been vertical jigging a 3/4 ounce spoon for all species.

Crappie fishing is still good. They are on the top of and inside of brush piles in 25 - 40 feet of water. Artificial baits are working well, but live minnows are working the best for the biggest numbers of fish.

Catfish are being caught on jugs using nightcrawlers and live threadfin shad. Some good sized fish are being caught.

Walleye can be found on the same flats as the stripers and the whites, in fact you have a great chance of catching all species in the lake fishing the flats, once you find the bait and energetic and hungry fish. I had a guest walleye fishing over the weekend and he had good success casting a Flicker Shad to the shoreline on the shallower banks. Most of his fish bit when his bait was to about 15 - 20 feet deep. He also caught a few on jerk baits close to shore in the late afternoon. This may be the start of the night bite for walleye and possibly striped bass.

Bass fishing has been good and they are being found in all the different types of locations.  I have found large schools of largemouth bass and spots feeding on the flats in 28 - 33 feet of water. They are also being caught along the deep bluff lines hugging the rocks in 15 - 25 feet of water. Head back into the backs of creeks in the shallow water, as long as the bait is in the area the bass will be feeding. A few afternoons ago one of our bass fishing guests got into some nice topwater action for big largemouth bass. They had a blast for about 45 minutes casting topwater baits. For the afternoon bass fisherman, check out the shadow side of docks, there has been some really nice sized fish caught under my dock.

The lake level is holding fairly stable with minimal power generation and currently sits at 552.96. The lake surface water temperature has been fairly constant for the last couple of days at around 65 degrees. I expect to see this water temperature drop over the next couple of day with the cool nights we have in the forecast. The overall lake is starting to clear, but you will still see a slight stain in the creeks, as well as, parts of the main lake.

The Bassmaster's Team Championship will be held on Norfork Lake the beginning of December. It will be exciting to see how these expert fishermen attack our late fall early winter bass fishery. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort still has some cabins available for the tournament so give us a call at 870-492-5113.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.