Friday, August 31, 2012

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

25 pound striped bass caught 7/6/12
14 pound striped bass caught 8/1/12

18 pound striped bass caught 8/29/12

Summer fishing on Norfork Lake has been challenging at times, but some big fish were caught. The warm weather with little rain kept the thermocline at about 30 feet of water and most fish are at 0 - 30 feet. This should make fishing easier, you would think, but finding where the fish are feeding has been the challenge. I have found them on the bottom, but most recently I have found them in 130 - 165 ft of water. That is a lot of water to cover! When I have been able to get out fishing, I have fished the early mornings. At times I have caught fish right before light, but most recently I haven't caught a striper until around 9AM or later. Is the bite becoming later in the day? This is another challenge. This is what makes fishing so much fun, yet sometimes frustrating with the ever changing feeding habits of stripers. I have been using 4 - 6 inch gizzard shad that were netted in very shallow water way back in the backs of creeks where the water gets muddy. I use a 2 ounce trolling weight with swivels on both sides and then attach a 4 - 6 foot leader with a #1 or #2 size kahle hook. I set the bait around 28 feet when I find bait fish and start marking a few big arcs. Troller fishermen have been doing well, and on occasion are doing much better than live bait fishermen. The trick to trolling for striper is to get the bait to the correct depth. There are several methods of doing this; using lead core line, using in-line weights with a lot of line let out, and the easiest method if you have them is to use down riggers. Hair jigs and larger crank baits have been working. Chartreuse and white colored hair jigs have been the color of choice.

Norfork Lake White bass
Kentucky bass and largemouth bass
Walleye, Kentucky and largemouth.
I have also been bass and walleye fishing several times since my last report. I have done very well part of the time and OK the other times. I have been finding bass on main lake points and also midway back in creeks on points where the channel swings in close to shore. Again these fish are in 0 - 30 ft of water. Right at sun rise I have been finding some top water action and using a Zara Spook Jr has caught some nice fish. Most often though, I find the fish on the bottom in 25 - 30 ft of water and vertical jigging with a spoon has produced some nice fish. Throwing a jig and pig or plastics worked slowly along the bottom will also catch some good fish.
Over the past month I have also been learning how to fish with nightcrawler harnesses with a bottom bouncing weight. The challenge for me is to find the right speed to drag the bait and the the amount of weight to use. The first time out I drifted very slowly along a shoreline using a 1/2 ounce weight staying in 25 to 30 ft of water. I picked up 3 undersized walleye, two catfish, a Kentucky bass and a small striper. Yesterday I worked the bait the same way for a while and was catching bass and bluegill. I decided to move a little faster, increased the weight to 1 ounce and found that the strikes I got were much more aggressive. I ended up landing several nice size bass and one 21 inch walleye. I was fishing half way back in a major creek following the shore line in 25 - 30 ft of water.
You will also find white bass in the same locations as the bass and walleye. Spooning has been working the best for me for whites. I have found more whites when I move out into a little deeper water and they are suspended 20 - 30 down.
Norfork Lake level is currently at 545.03 and rising slowly due to rain from Isaac. The Corps is generating sporadically during the day which has dropped the lake slowly. The surface water temperature has dropped to around 82 degrees in the mornings and rises slightly in the afternoons. The water is stained, but a great fishing color.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.