Sunday, September 28, 2014

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

I am really looking forward to Norfork Lake's fall fishing season to get into full swing. With cooler weather over the last couple of weeks, the lake has given signs that the fall season is starting. The lake surface temperature has dropped into the upper 70's and the stripers and hybrids have started to make their move away from the dam area. I even think some of the coves had started to turn over last week, but we are still a few weeks off from the entire lake turning over. The current thermocline has dropped to around 40 feet, but the oxygen level is good at all depths.

Over the last week I have concentrated my fishing habit on the mid lake area. I have gotten into huge schools of hybrids and stripers and have found big schools of Kentucky bass and largemouth bass schooled up and feeding on crawdads. Overall it is shaping up to be a great fall season for fishing with gorgeous scenery.

There are several very effective methods of fishing for striped and hybrid bass; vertical jigging with a spoon, live bait and trolling with 6 inch swimming minnow type baits. I have mainly been vertical jigging with a spoon. I have found big schools of hybrids with stripers off of main lake, bluff line points. The best points to check out are the ones which have a channel swing at the point. During this past week the fish seem to appear as it starts getting light (around 7AM).  If it was cloudy or overcast the fish stayed around for 1 - 1 1/2 hours, but today with the bluebird sky they were only in the area for 1/2 hour. This morning I landed a nice 7 pound hybrid and lost 2 others. Another location type to check out are the large flats. It seems that the fish are holding in 35 - 55 feet of water and are close to the bottom. Yesterday I marked a lot of fish, but they would not take a spoon, but a live bait fisherman next to me landed 3 nice stripers in the 10 pound range. There are still plenty of stripers in the dam area, but the fish are starting to scatter and are showing up in the mid lake area. As the water cools they will continue to scatter throughout the lake. Over the last week the striper/hybrid bite has been good and will only improve as the water cools.

The largemouth, smallmouth and kentucky bass bite has also been good. Most of my bigger bass have come from 35 - 45 feet of water vertical jigging on the bottom. I have found a honey hole this week that has been holding schools of feeding Kentuckys and largemouth, a midlake hump that must be holding plenty of crawdads as the fish I have cleaned are full of them. Yesterday I should have boated 10 keeper size bass in less than an hour, but every time I would reach for the net the fish would tail dance and throw the hook. It was a lot of fun.  I have also caught nice bass  off of bluff wall points in 40 feet of water. Similar locations where I have found stripers/hybrids. One of my guests is doing very well on bass. He likes to cast a jig and pig (brown skirt with a blue pork chunk). Most of his fish are coming off of bluff walls in about 30 feet of water. There is still good topwater action in different areas, but most of time they are short fish, with the occasional keeper.

The white bass bite is good when you are able to locate them. They have been found on shallow sandy flats. But I only know of two locations at this time. Last weekend a guest boated 20 whites in about 20 feet of water using a Kastmaster. He got into some good top water action. Today another guest found some of the big whites in 30 - 40 feet of water schooled up. The mid size hybrids are also hanging out with the whites. Use a light action rod and have a blast.

The crappie bite is starting, but is still slow. A friend has been crappie fishing over 30 - 40 feet brush and finding crappie 15 - 25 feet down. He is getting a few off of each brush pile, but they are not coming easy. As the water cools more and more crappie will move back to the brush piles.

The catfish bite is still good. You can find them at all depths, but the ones that I have spooned up have been in 35 feet of water or so. Trot lines and jugs are working well. Today I saw a jug  screaming across the mouth of Float Creek. It had to have been a very good size fish. I hope the owner found his jug, but as fast as the fish was swimming it's hard telling how far that jug had travelled.

The Norfork Lake level has fallen to 549.48 and drops a little each day with sporadic power generation and constant minimum flows into the river. The lake surface water temperature has dropped to the upper 70's. This morning on the main lake the temp. was 76.9, The main lake is clear with the creeks and coves stained. Over all very favorable fishing conditions.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Norfork Lake Fishing Report

Norfork Lake's striper and hybrid bass bite is still very strong. Today was no exception. I landed 4 stripers in the dark with live gizzard and thread fin shad. I started to fish about 5:45 AM in total darkness. I set out the first pole at 38 ft and was sitting in 42 ft of water. I used a 2 ounce weight with a 5 foot leader, all with 8 pound monofilament line. I started baiting up a second pole and looked over to the first rod and the line was straight out and the reel zinging away. I landed the striper shown in the 3rd photo down. I continued baiting up the rods and finally had 2 out. All of a sudden both rods got buried in the water and the fight was on. To my dismay both of the fish swam together and the lines tangled so I ended losing both of them. After this I only put out one pole and held onto it. This made things much easier. I landed another 3 fish in the same size as below and released them immediately and also missed several good bites. Once the sun rose (approx. 7 AM) the fish decided to leave my area so I had to start looking again. Today I used live bait, but prior to today I had been vertical jigging with a spoon with great success. Jackie and I fished last Thursday (top photo) and had a great time. We landed over 8 fish, mostly hybrids,all on a spoon. We found these fish part way back in a creek at a channel swing in 60 - 70 ft of water. The fish were schooled up and suspended 30 - 40 ft down. On Saturday John and Mary Kay (second photo) used live shad for their fish and they fished the same area that I fished Thursday. Today I found
the fish on a main lake point. The best bite for
stripers and hybrids are within 3 miles north of the dam and also east of the dam. It's a big area, but there's a lot of fish. If this year is anything like prior years the stripers will start to migrate away from the dam area sometime in September, but I have to say, this year has been anything but normal.

The black bass bite is also very good. Lately there has been some good topwater action at sunrise and sunset for largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass. Today, however, there was virtually no topwater action, but I did find some
nice schools of bass 30 - 35 ft down in 30 - 60 ft of water. I landed 4 really nice largemouth bass all on a one ounce spoon. What surface action I did see was right on the shoreline. I believe the recent frontal system rolling though our area drove the bass down to the thermocline.

White bass are also schooling, but I have not had much success in finding them consistently. I have found some really big whites when I am striper fishing and some medium size whites up in the Briar Creek area. Look for the whites on the deeper flats in 40 - 60 ft of water. I have spooned up some whites and have also caught some on a Kastmaster.

I haven't targeted crappie or walleye lately so I don't have a lot to report on them. There are still a few crappie sitting under docks, but I am sure most of the crappie and walleye left the brush piles for deeper water when the water warmed up. Watch for the crappie and walleye to move back onto the brush with the upcoming cool front rolling though this week. The last walleye that I caught was in 40 ft of water on the bottom, caught with a spoon vertical jigging.

The surface water temperature this AM was 82.5 degrees. The Norfork Lake level has also dropped a little and is currently sitting at 550.05 ft about sea level. The main lake is clear with the creeks and coves stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.