Friday, February 8, 2013

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

If you want to catch a striped bass, now is a great time to fish Norfork Lake. For me, the best bite on the lake has been for striped and hybrid bass with black bass and white bass not far behind. I have caught 24 stripers and hybrid in the last 4 days and only fished 3 of those 4 days. All but 3 fish, were returned to the lake to be caught again someday. I have used live shiners, but vertical jigging with a spoon has by far been the better bait. I have been using a 3/4 and a 1 ounce spoon in all white, and white with a green back. To be honest, I don't think color matters much when you are dropping the spoon into a school of feeding fish. The biggest secret for this time of year is to work the spoon very, very slowly. No big jerks or fast movements. It is cold water and the fish are moving slower this time of year, even though a few bites today almost jerked the rod out of my hands. Today's bite started out really slow. I looked and looked for stripers in the early morning with little success. I finally found schooling fish around noon and caught 9 stripers/hybrids in the next 1 1/2 hours. It was a great end to a beautiful day on the lake. I have been finding stripers and hybrids in the Cranfield area, 101 area and the Henderson area. The fish are feeding on small 1 inch shad. Find the shad and you will find the fish. The schools that I have found this week are anywhere from 30 ft. down to 90 ft. down in 100 ft of water. I have actually spooned up a striper from the bottom at 100 ft deep. Look in the old deep river channel or just off the edge of the channel, these are the types of areas where I have been have had the most luck.
White bass fishing has also been really good over the last couple of weeks. These are the big 2.5 plus pound whites. The great thing about the white bass is that they are hanging in very similar areas as the stripers and hybrids. When you find one you typically find the other, but maybe not at the same time of day. They are also schooling in huge schools feeding on shad. Vertical jigging with a spoon is working great for me at this time. A few times I have found the whites in a little shallower water 55 feet and deeper. I have marked them at all depths in the water column. A very good tool this time of year to finding whites is to find the feeding seagulls. If you see the birds diving in the water, go that direction and there will be fish under them. Some people think this is a silly tool to use, but why not use what nature is providing. If I am looking for a place to fish and I see birds feeding, guess what, I'm  heading that way to check out what is under the birds. I have used this method in ocean fishing for years, so why not use it here. The birds typically stick around through the winter and early spring, then they are gone. If they are not diving in the water and are just flying around, more than likely there are no fish under them.

Black bass fishing has also been very good. Today I was back in Float Creek and noticed a lot of birds feeding in a shallow cove. I headed that way and found a ton of bait. I was only in 20 feet of water and started casting a bone and orange colored suspending rougue. I worked it as a jerk bait for a while with no success then I started to just slowly roll the bait back to the boat. I landed 3 nice 17 inch largemouth. They were out in the middle of the cove not on the bank. I also landed 3 spotted bass vertical jigging in 30 - 40 ft of water off of some bluff lines.
I still have not been crappie or walleye fishing lately. I am having way too much fun striper, white and black bass fishing. I guess if the striper bite slows, I will start checking out these other species. Winter has typically been a really good bite for me for the big black and white crappies. Walleye are staging for their upcoming spawn. The spawn should happen at anytime if not already.
The Norfork Lake level is rising slowly and currently sits at 542.52. The lake has risen about 2.5 ft over the last week. No power generation has occur for the last week. The surface water temperature this morning was 47 - 48 degrees. A slight warming trend is going on, but I would guess we will still get some cold weather. The main lake is clear with a slight green tint and the creeks and coves are still a little stained.
Keep an eye on this blog, I'll be writing about the upcoming Norfork Lake Chamber of Commerce Fishing Derby. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort will be participating and we hope to have many of our guests enter. This is a first derby for the Chamber. We think it will be a fun way to welcome spring and hope to make it an annual event.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.