Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

I hope all had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends. I know we did. We had our daughter, one and 1/2 of our granddaughters and our son-in-law in town for most of last week. It was really nice to have them up from Texas. We also had two other family groups that decided to make Hummingbird Hideaway Resort their destination for a Thanksgiving gathering. It was nice seeing so many people out having fun with all of their family members. One group had 4 generations and the other had 3. They had campfires, hiked, fished and enjoyed each others company.

Currently the best bite on Norfork Lake is for crappie, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass. White bass, striped bass, hybrid bass have been good at times especially when you find them schooling.

I have caught crappie in 30 feet of water vertical jigging with a 3/4 oz spoon. I also have caught a few in shallow water on a large 3 inch green paddle tail grub. One of our guests was using live crappie minnows and caught crappie in 5 feet of water close to the banks. You need to find the brush and fish at different depths over the brush and also inside of the brush to the shoreline. They are moving in and out of the brush to feed. My daughter caught her nice 13 - 14 inch crappie on a spoon, jigging in 30 feet of water in and around brush.

Bass are moving up to the banks to feed early and late in the day. I caught bass using my green grub and one of my guests had a great morning using a small black grub and casting to the shore and retrieving slowly on the bottom. Black was the only color that he had luck with. Crank baits and spinner baits are also catching some nice fish. My guests found bass in our cove close to some docks on the shoreline. I have found them on the bluff lines close to brush piles.

Stripers and whites are schooling and when you find the school you will catch fish. Some of these schools are breaking the surface at times. I found some really nice top water action right at the mouth of our cove at about 10:00AM. My daughter ended up landing this nice 14 pound fish on a white & chartreuse Zara Spook. It took her quite some time to land the fish as she is also still carrying our third granddaughter. (She is scheduled to land Jillian at the end of February :-) We also caught some nice stripers off of bluffs in the Robinson area. The fish are suspended anywhere from 20 - 60 feet down in 80 - 100 feet of water. We were using live shad for these fish. Live shiners are starting to catch some nice stripers. There has also been some nice fish caught in the Cranfield area both on top water as well as on the bottom.

A cold front has moved in which will start cooling the water. Fishing patterns should not change much except for the top water action. This will slow as the the water cools, but hopefully it will last another week or so. I will not be out in the mornings fishing  the next couple of days as it is forecast to be very cold for the next couple of mornings. I don't like fishing when my rod guides freeze up! I will be out in the afternoons, though. Hard to keep me off of the lake:-)

A little different sport is also available in the area. My son-in-law took a Pheasant hunting trip with Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters last Wednesday. He had a great time. It was his first Pheasant hunt so it took him a few birds to zero in his sites.He stated that this hunt was one of the best and most fun that he has ever been on.

The Norfork Lake water level is starting to stabilize at around 550.9. It has risen almost 2 feet with the various rains that we had over the last couple of weeks. Very little generation over the last week. The lake surface water temperature has fallen to the upper 50's. The main lake is clear (not as clear as normal) and the creeks and coves are still stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

If you're looking to have fun fishing, the fall bite is happening on Norfork Lake. The fish are schooling and starting the feeding frenzy typical before the cooler months of winter. They are aggressive and active. If you are looking to catch that trophy striper now is the time to try your luck.

The crappie bite has been really good. The crappie are located on sunken brush piles. I have found good fish on brush in 30 - 35 feet of water as well as on brush in 20 feet of water. The fish are suspended on top of the brush and also in shallower water inside the brush closer to the bank. Vertical jigging a spoon as well as throwing a small grub is working great. I can't pinpoint a spoon size because I have caught fish on all sizes from a 1 oz. to a 1/8 oz. spoon. I typically jig vertically and vary the method from a quick high pull up to a slight twitch. I have been catching most of my 15 inch fish on a big spoon with a quick high snap of the spoon then letting the spoon float down, or on a 3 inch paddle tail grub with a 1/4 oz jig head working the tops of the brush piles. The crappie have been hitting the spoon on the fall. Last evening I was fishing brush in the Cranfield area and the bite was fantastic. I have caught big slabs in the Tracy area, Fall creek, Float creek and Panther creek. As you can see the crappie bite is happening all over the lake on both the main lake as well as in the creeks.

The night bite for stripers, slow rolling a stick bait, is in full swing. Morning fishing for stripers with live bait (shiners are working) is starting to pick up. Last evening I hooked into this monster striper at about 6PM. It was windy, overcast, foggy, misting and very very dark. Kind of a spooky night for fishing, but what a reward. I hooked into this fish and at first I thought it was another walleye, but after about 15 cranks on the reel it realised it was hooked and the long run began. I was fishing a bluff line in the Cranfield area and the fish took off down the shore line, I ended up setting my trolling motor on high speed to try to keep up with fish. It must have ran for at least 10 minutes (by now I was next to the island) then the fight really began, one pull up and 5 cranks down, then the fish pulled drag more than my gain. After about 25 minutes I landed the fish. I did have my drag set a little loose, but ended up tightening. I have straightened out too many hooks on rogues and didn't want to loose this fish. He was given his freedom as soon as he smiled for the camera. The morning bite for stripers is picking up. Lateley (from first hand and word of mouth) fish have been caught in Float Creek, Diamond Bay and up North at the MO line. Both stripers, hybrids and whites are schooling and starting to really feed before the cooler temps get here.When you find a school of fish vertical jigging with a spoon works great.

Walleye are also biting my stick bait after dark. I caught a nice 18 inch fish right after dark last evening. He was right on the shoreline. I also hooked two walleye before dark while I was spooning over a  brush pile at 30 feet. Both deep fish were just a hair under 18 inches so they were released.

The black bass are starting to move to the shore line to feed. All forms of baits are working depending on the conditions of the weather. I have caught bass on grubs in about 10 feet of water, on spoons in 30 feet of water and also live bait in 50 feet of water. The above bass was caught on live bait in 50 feet of water.

I forgot to mention that I have encountered serveral large schools of big fish busting the surface. Keep your favorite top water bait handy at all times.

I don't know why the fishing was so good last evening, but I'm not complaining.  Any day you go out and catch stripers, walleye, crappie and catfish you can say you had great day of fishing. But as I always say any day of fishing beats a day of work whether you catch fish or not!!

The Norfork Lake surface water temperature has been in the high 50's to very low 60's. The water is clear on the main lake and stained in the creeks and coves. Slight generation periodically thoughout the day. The Norfork Lake water level currently sits at 549 and is rising very slowly, due to our current rainy conditions.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Norfork Lake Fishing Report


This morning was one of my best fishing days on Norfork Lake in the Arkansas Ozarks. I feel comfortable in stating that the fall bite has started. Fall bite meaning schooling fish that are in a feeding frenzy, some early and late top water action and a good bite after dark.

I caught so many heavy fish this morning that my right arm is actually sore this afternoon. What a thing to complain about:-)  I ended up catching 18 fish in total with a big variety; striped bass, hybrid bass, white bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and spotted bass. I also caught fish using varied fishing techniques. I caught top water fish using my Zara Spook, used a spoon vertical jigging for deep fish and also caught fish on live thread fin shad for deep fish. At one time I had 4 fish on at once, 3 on live bait and one on my spooning rod. I did get to land 3 of the 4. All three fish landed were hybrids.

I started out from my dock around 6AM and headed to the mid lake area. I first stopped at a main lake point and was marking fish. I set out 4 down rods, but after about 15 minutes of sitting on my trolling motor because of the high winds I decided to move to other areas. I headed back into a creek along a deep bluff line and started to mark feeding fish. I dropped 3 down rods with live bait and was vertical jigging with a spoon. I hooked into one after another white bass with my spoon on. These were monster whites about 2.5 - 3 pounds. One of my live bait rods started to sing and I ended up landing a striper. A few fish started coming up to the surface so I grabbed my top water rod and casted out and after two twitches a nice smallmouth hammered the spook. I ended up landing another smallie and a hybrid bass. I was fishing in about 50 - 60 feet of water and the fish were mainly in the 25 - 40 feet depth range with some on the surface. I was fishing close to the bluff wall. The fish in the area disappeared around 9AM, so I headed across the bay toward the opposite side following the creek channel. I got to about the middle of the bay and a live bait rod started singing. I fought this fish for 15 minutes before the line broke. I was disappointed because this fish felt much larger than the first striper. I continued following the channel and came close to the opposite bank when I saw all the feeding fish on my graph again. I hooked into one with my spoon, then 3 of my live bait rods took off at the same time. What a dilemma! I picked up each rod with one hand, set the hook and set it back in the rod holder. I landed a hybrid on my spoon then started on the other rods. I was really fortunate that none of the fish tangled with each other. I continued fishing this area until about 11AM and was catching hybrids right and left. It was a really fun morning. The wind started to howl even stronger and started to blow into the bay so I headed for home even though the fish still were biting. Fun fall fishing morning, hopefully many more to come!

I also fished last evening for crappie. A boat was on one of the brush piles close to the resort where I have been catching many 13 - 15 inch crappie on so I decided to head the opposite direction closer to the 101 bridge. I started fishing brush in 30 - 35 feet and only landed a couple small bass. I moved closer to shore in about 20 feet of water and the crappie were stacked. They weren't the huge ones, but respectable 10 - 12 inch fish. I caught 5 and released all. I was using a 1/4 oz green and white spoon.

White bass are being caught back in creeks and also on main lake flats. Look for the bait fish and watch your sonar for feeding fish. Vertical jigging is working great.

I also have word that the night bite has started. The evening before last a friend caught a nice striper, hybrid and walleye. Slow rolling a Rogue is the preferred technique. Some of the best places to fish are main lake points that are shallow out into the lake, but still have deep water close by. I guess I will need to get out there soon.

The Norfork Lake level is currently at 548.68, with the surface water temperature in the high 50's to low 60's. The main lake is clear with the creeks and coves stained. Minimal water generation lately.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

A quick update on Norfork Lake white bass fishing. The whites are schooling and feeding heavily on shad. I fished last evening back in a cove across from Hummingbird Hideaway's cove and found whites in 30 - 35 feet of water. At least I assumed they were whites. They were feeding from the top to the bottom. I hooked into 6 fish but only got to boat 1 black bass. The trip today trip confirmed that the fish I did not get good hook sets on were actually white bass.

Today I headed out fishing around noon before the storms arrived. I found the whites at the mouth of the same cove in 50 - 80 feet of water. They were feeding on shad from the surface to 30 feet down. I started to vertical jig with a 1 oz. spoon and hooked into 9 fish, but only boated 5 of them. I think the hook on the 1 oz spoon is a little large for the mouth of white bass. I will downsize to a 3/4 oz spoon the next time. They were all in the 1.5 - 2.5 pound range. Nice size fish! They also were surfacing a little, but most of the whites that took a swipe at my spook were small. I only got to fish for a little less than an hour before the storms started rumbling all around me and it hasn't stop rain since. We have had over an inch of rain today.

Other baits that will work when you find suspended feeding white bass are Rooster Tail spinners and blade baits like a Kastmaster. I like both of these to be 1/2 ounce or larger so they can get down to 15 - 20 feet.

That is all for now.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

My guests and I have had a lot of fun Crappie and Bass fishing since my last report on Norfork Lake. The current best bite on the lake is for crappie, largemouth and smallmouth bass and bluegill. I have not been catfishing lately so I really can't speak about catfish, but looking back at last year, November should be a great time to catch catfish. The striper bite may be starting to get active so keep checking back to see when it kicks off.

I had a couple of guests out fishing the last couple of days and they caught some really nice slab crappies. A couple of them measured in at 15 inches. They were using live minnows, both crappie minnows as well as shad. The bite wasn't non stop, but it definitely kept their interest. They were catching fish on brush piles close to our resort. The brush should be in 25 - 35 feet of water with the tops around 15 - 20 feet. The fish are suspended on the top of the brush as well as on the bottom. Big thumper bluegill are in the same brush piles and also on the inside of the piles closer to shore.

I also fished this morning and caught two nice 15 inch crappies and several smallmouth bass. I was using a Berkley's 2 1/2 inch T-tail minnow (or grub) with a 1/4 oz jig head. The bass were hitting the jig in 10 - 20 feet of water and the crappie attacked the grub when I started to bring the bait straight up to the boat. I try to keep the boat in about 35 feet of water. Anytime I was sitting on a brush pile I caught a crappie. Earlier in the week I was bass fishing with another guest. The first day we did really good on keeper size smallmouth, but the second day slowed and we just caught a few. I was using my grub and Grant was throwing a Texas rigged worm. Both baits were being worked slowly back to the boat.

Congrats goes out to all the participants in the Mr. Bass of Arkansas Pro-Am Classic. It was held on Friday, Saturday and the finals were today. We did have the winning amateur staying with us. He took home a nice check for 1st Place. Congratulation to Kevin Crow. Kevin said he had all his luck casting a Wiggle Wart. The keeper size bite was tough for all (but plenty of undersized fish were caught) and after the weigh-in on Saturday the top 10 Pros weighed in from 19 - 28 pounds for a two day total. Those top 10 fished today, but I was unable to attend the weigh-in to see how they did. It seemed like they caught keeper bass all over the lake. They were fishing in shallow water in the backs of creeks to deep water bluff lines and brush piles. They were catching fish on crank baits, swim baits, jigs and spinners. It does seem like all fishing techniques are starting to work. This is very typical for bass fishing this time of year.

Striper fishing has still been slow, but all hope that it picks up very shortly. Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters fished yesterday and landed 3 nice striper and missed two others. Hopefully this is a sign that things are about to change with the striper bite.

The Norfork Lake surface water temperature has dropped to the high 50's to the low 60's. We have some rain and cool weather coming in the next few dasy so it should help to drop the temps a little lower. The Norfork Lake level is at 549.23 and dropping slowly at about an inch per day. The main lake is clear with the creeks and cover starting to clear.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.