Monday, April 23, 2012

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

Wow what an unusual fishing week and a half on Norfork Lake. We have had cold fronts, very windy days, and the lake level dropping. During the past 10 days I have gotten into top water action for hybrids and whites then the next day a cold front moved in and the wind started. Prior to the cold front the fish were in shallow water being caught on free swimming shad and shallow running lures, but from what I have seen over the last couple of days the fish went deeper. It is very hard to determine what the fish will be doing over the next couple of days as the lake level is stabilizing, the air temperature is on the rise and no frontal systems for a while.

The largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass bite is still one of the best bites on the lake. Crawdad colored crank baits diving 10 - 15 feet have been one of the best baits. Sunday, when the wind, started to blow 10 - 30 MPH, a few fishermen braved the wind and caught a lot of bass on spinner baits in the wind blown pockets close to the shoreline. The smallmouth bass that I have been catching have moved out to about 25 feet depths but are still hugging the bottom. Early and late in the day you will still find the bass along the shore line feeding.

Crappie are starting to show up on shallow (15 - 25feet) brush piles. They are suspended over the brush so you will need to find the depth where they are hovering. More small crappie are being caught but it sounds as though you get a nice slab about every 4th fish or so. Live minnows are working very well. We had a family that took a guided trip with Jay Smith, of Crappies Only, a couple days ago. They were fishing sunken tree stumps with live bait and had a good day, catching a lot of fish, many keepers.

Catfish are hitting trotlines and jugs on live bait. They are coming into shallow water to feed.

Striper fishing, my favorite past time has been up and down. I have mainly been using live bait and have caught nice fish on points close to shore in shallow water, then things changed up a lot. Sunday I was finding striper in 120 feet of water suspended 40 - 60 feet down. This is very unusual for this time of year. I guess the fronts, the lowering of the lake level and the lower surface water temperature have effected the normal spring time pattern. I ended going with my summer and winter rigged poles with a 2 oz. weight and fishing straight over the boat. This method worked for meon Sunday and from what I have been hearing, from some guests, it also worked this morning. ( I slept in this morning, but will be back at it tomorrow early) Another bait that is actually out producing live bait is the Alabama rigs, I have a group of fishermen here this week and they have been trolling the Alabama Rigs. They have caught as many if not more than I have been catching. Great job guys. The lake level has stabilized at normal pool and the weather pattern seems to becoming more stable so maybe things will get back to normal. If you can't find the striper in shallow water check out deep before you give up. There was top water action starting to happen right before the cold front rolled in. Last Thursday evening I got into some nice hybrid and white bass action casting Zara Spooks.

The lake level currently sits at 552.06. The surface water temperature has fallen to the low 60s to high 50's. The main lake is clearing and most creeks and coves are also clear, but still somewhat stained. Periodic power generation is occurring to help maintain the normal pool level.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

All fish in the photos were released except for the Striped bass. These photos only show a sampling of my catches as I do a lot of releasing on site. Check out Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's facebook page for additional current fishing information.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

The Norfork Lake spring fishing bite is in full swing. It is very hard to say what is the current best bite on the lake, but I guess I would have to say it is smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass. Coming in a very close second would be hybrid bass and striped bass. The walleye and crappie bites are picking up and the catfish are hitting trotlines and jugs. Oh yeh, throw some white bass into the mix and you have the full spectrum of fish on Norfork Lake. Pick your species and go out and have fun. I guess I am making it sound easy, every day has its ups and downs, but I believe this is a great time of year for fishing. Norfork Lake is a very dynamic place right now, the fish are continually moving, the lake is dropping rapidly, the water is trying to clear-up and Mother Nature has thrown in a few cold fronts on occasion to make sure we get fishing changes. After our 11foot rise in water a few weeks back the bite stalled for about 4 days after the rise, but boy has the bite come back with a vengeance.
The smallmouth, largemouth and spotted bass bite for this spring is the best I have ever seen. You can find fish on shallow points as well as on deep bluff lines. Crank baits that dive about 10 feet are catching nice fish. Spinner baits on windy days are working great. Probably the most productive baits are the tube jig, jig and pig, and Texas rigged worms worked slowly along the bottom. Start your baits in around 5 feet of water and work it through 25 feet depths before you bring it up. Crawdad colors of the green to the deep reds are working well. Of course, swimming minnows / grubs worked close to the bottom are also effective. I am finding bass up very shallow early in the morning with some top water activity. If you see the top water action throw a Zara Spook. I have caught many smallmouth this way early in the morning. As the sun comes up I have found the fish dropping back to 10 - 20 feet depthsr. The largemouth and spots are typically in the 10 - 15 range and the smallmouth seems to be in the 15 - 20 range. You can find bass all over the lake. Live bait is working exceptionally well.

The striper and hybrid bass bite are improving by leaps and bounds. Just today one of my guide friends, Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters, caught a limit for 2 clients in 50 minutes and continued to catch and release thereafter. Tom was fishing the dam area with live shad. I have been catching hybrids and stripers up close to the banks early in the morning with Zara spooks, Flukes and free swimming live shad. After the sun rises fishing with swimming minnows should also work. Live bait is still one of your best options. Drop a couple baits down about 20 feet and also have a few free swimming baits thrown towards the shore. The fish are continually moving and if they are in the area they will find your bait. The dam area has been one of the better bites lately, but the fish are starting to bite in the Bennetts area, Float and Panther creeks as the water in these areas are starting to clear. I am going to concentrate my striper fishing to these areas next week. I will let you know.

Walleye fishing has improved. Several of our bass fishermen have been catching some nice fish off the ends of deep bluff lines with crawdad colored crankbaits. The walleye seem to be in about 10 feet of water. I caught a nice 22 inch 3.5 pound walleye the other morning before daylight throwing a suspending rogue at the ends of docks with lights.

Channel cats are coming into shallow water to feed and spawn. A couple of our Bass Cat guest set a couple of trotlines and were baiting them up with live shiners. They ended up catching a bakers dozen. the best part of their catch was that they ended up catch 4 nice cats on bare hooks. Yes I did say no bait. They had set their lines one evening then a storm rolled in and they didn't get a chance to bait them up. The next evening they went out to bait up the lines and ended up finding 4 cats with no bait. These fish must really be hungry.

The lake level is currently falling about 8 inches per day and sits at 555.84. The Corps has forecast to be at normal pool of 552 by April 22, 2012,  The quick drop in water level will slowly diminish over the next week until the level stabilizes. This will also enhance the clearing process. The surface water temperature yesterday morning was from the mid to upper 60s. This should help spur on some top water action. The lake is still stained, but is having color changes showing the clearing process has started.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Norfork Lake Fishing Report


Norfork Lake is bustling with fishing activity. The fishing and catching has been great and our guests are landing nice size fish. The Cystic Fibrosis fishing tournament was held yesterday and the winners weighed-in over 16 pounds. They had 224 boats participating for this great benefit and many of the fisher people brought in limits of fish. Bass fishing is good! Next Friday and Saturday the BassCat Owners Invitational is being held on Norfork Lake. We have many Basscat boat owners staying with us that are pre-fishing the lake in hopes of winning the grand prize. But I really think most are here to have a good time, relax and experience some great Arkansas hospitality from Mountain Home and all of its residents.

Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted Bass fishing is by far the best bite on the lake. Over the past week or so I have seen more 3 - 5 pound bass caught than ever before. I believe this shows that the previous high water years was a benefit to the Norfork Lake fishery with the increase in numbers of fish as well as the size. My guests and I have been bringing in limits of bass on a consistent basis. A lot of the fish are released after photos, but some find there way into the frying pan. Nothing better than eating fresh caught fish. The fish are hitting top water lures early in the mornings and late in the day. Cast a spook, fluke, rogue or your favorite top water bait into the sunken buck brush, let it sit for 10 seconds or so then walk-the-dog back to the boat.You may get hammered immediately in very shallow water or they may follow it back and hit part way back to the boat. It is really exciting to see any fish erupt on that spook and then take off running. Once the sun comes up the fish are falling back into 12 - 20 feet of water. You can then cast crank baits, swimming minnows, jig and pigs. If it is windy try a spinner bait. I have found that the closer to the bottom you are the more strikes you will get. For those live bait fisher-people cast your bait right up into the buck brush with no weights. Let the minnow do its job and attract the fish. I have been getting as many if not more bites on live bait as artificial. Once the sun comes up add some weight to the line and fish in 12 - 20 ft of water right on the bottom.

April has always been a great month for smallmouth bass fishing, but this year it seems even better. I have been catching limits of smallmouth on a daily basis with the  above mentioned methods. Each time you cast your artificial bait or live bait you are not really sure what you might catch. The stripers and hybrids are in the same areas and hitting the same baits. If you want to consistently catch smallmouth bass April is a great time to come to Norfork Lake.
The Striper and hybrid bite is starting to happen, but is still a little inconsistent. At least it has been for me. One day I find them and just have a field day and the next they are gone somewhere else and I can't seem to find them. They should be in the same locations as the bass, and you fish for them in the same way as you do for bass.

I forgot to mention that the walleye are feeding in the same areas as the bass and stripers, I haven't landed any yet, but I know of quite a few nice size walleye are being caught.

Catfish are coming up shallow to feed so if you like to run trotlines or jugs this is a good time to do it. I find that live bait works better than cut bait. Also night crawlers are working on pole fishing. Find some flowing water from a creek or spring and fish the bottom with your crawlers the cats should be in the area.

Crappie are starting to bite, but I haven't had the chance to do any crappie fishing. Not enough time in the day. I guess I should cut down on the sleep! I will try and get some info soon.

Norfork Lake level is falling about 7 inches per day and currently sits at 559.3. Two generators are being run with some partially opened flood gates. This will continue to mid month. The lake is forecast to be back to normal pool by May 1, 2012. The surface water temperature has fallen to the upper 60's. The lake is still very stained with some clearing starting to happen in parts of the lake.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

The Norfork Lake spring fishing bite is back better than ever. I have been out the last two mornings and the bite is fantastic for smallmouth bass, white bass, and hybrid bass. Ater the heavy rains last week that made the lake rise 11 feet the bite all but disappeared for a few days. That part of our life is over and the fishing is stronger than ever.

This morning I fished the Diamond Bay area and had a great day. I caught 12 fish and missed as many or more. I was using live bait as well as throwing a Zara spook (white with a chartreuse head). The bite started about 6:45AM and I quit fishing at 9 after having 3 fish on at the same time. I landed two smallmouth bass and lost the third. Literally I lost the third, if anyone catches a big fish with a Falcon rod and a Shimano reel attached, it is mine!! I was fighting a large smallmouth hearing the drag zinging out of this other rod. I looked back and it was gone.

My morning started out with the white bass erupting all around me. My live bait poles were dipping to the water and the fish were also attacking my spook. No way I could handle 5 rods by myself. Then the hybrids started breaking the surface. Again they were hitting both live bait as well as my spook. The the smallmouth started to bite. I caught a couple on my spook and the rest on live bait. I was sitting on the side of a point in 15 - 20 feet of water. I had two down poles set at about 12 feet and one pole that I was pitching into the buck brush. When I say into the buck brush that is what I mean. The fish are feeding inside of the brush and cruising in out. You will be retying hooks, but that is what it takes at this time. The stripers will be doing the same very shortly. I was using thread fin shad as my live bait, but shiners should work as well. Yesterday morning was very similar to this morning, but the eruptions yesterday were mainly smallmouth bass. I have had a limit of smallmouth each day, a limit of hybrids today and many white bass. It is time to fish Norfork Lake!!! The night bite for me is still slow, it should start to pick up though very soon.

My current fishing suggestion is to find the clearer water. Some of the major creeks I have been in are starting to clear and the water looks much better than the main lake. Over the last several days I have traveled most of the lake from Pigeon creek, up to Bennett's and down to the dam. Fish a point that has a lot of buck brush in the water.  Cast in live bait with no weight, or use artificial (flukes, spooks or rogues.) Of course there are many others to choose from. Continually watch out for top water action especially early in the morning. Even if you don't see top action the fish will come up for your bait.

I don't currently have any info on crappie, but will get the scoop soon.

The Norfork Lake level is falling about 2 inches per day and currently sits at 562.59.  The Corps is running one generator and is releasing the equivalent of a second generator to help bring the lake down. They are releasing water 24 hours per day. The Norfork Lake surface water temperature was in the upper 60's to low 70's this morning. The main lake is still very stained, but some of the major creeks are starting to clearing.

To all my fishing followers- if you have information that will be helpful to others, please feel free to comment on these blogs or on Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's facebook page.

Happy fishing, be safe and see you on the lake.