Monday, April 25, 2016

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

Norfork Lake is in spring fishing mode. Top water action for striped/hybrid bass, largemouth bass and white bass has started in the early morning, as well as late in the day. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass have moved to the banks for their spawn. Some of the bass are starting to move off the beds, but many are still on their beds. Shad have also started their first spawn of the year. You can find shad early in the morning up on the banks and I have also felt the eggs on my dock. I found out this morning that the shad spawn is making the fish very active. I am going out on a limb to say that if you want to catch striped bass, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass and white bass it is time to come to Norfork Lake NOW!! This is no marketing ploy. I will be able to tell you  where to fish and what the best bait for me has been. If you like live bait fishing you will have a blast!

The bass bite is still strong and will even get better after the spawn has completed. During the recent Bass Masters Elite tournament, over a 4 day period, 108 anglers brought to the scales 1,006 fish the first 2 days then 50 anglers brought in 229 fish and yesterday's final with 12 anglers brought in 59 fish at an average weight of 2.5 pounds per fish. That is a total of 1,294 fish ranging in weights up to a little over 6 pounds. Of course this doesn't include the hundreds of short fish and keeper sized fish that were culled out. That is a lot of fish! The anglers fished Norfork Lake the 1st and 4th day and Bull Shoals day 2 and 3. It was great meeting some of the professional fishermen as well as talking with some of the associated fishing businesses such as Berkley. Jigs and swim baits are both working very well. Darker colors in the crawdad browns and greens are a great color. Worms in the
peanut butter and jelly color are working as well.  Bass are being caught in both the stained water as well as the clear water.
Saturday  I headed out on the lake around 6PM looking for active fish. As I was almost to my 3rd spot to graph I saw a little flurry of activity from shad on the surface. I stopped and all of a sudden the white bass start busting the surface around me. From 6:30 until the sun dropped below the tree line I caught big white bass. With almost every cast there was a fish on the end. I had my silver Kastmaster with bucktail tied on and I started casting and getting hammered as soon as it hit the water. It was a blast and had me smiling ear to ear! I was sitting in 45 - 50 feet of water on a large deep flat area in front on a small cove/creek. At times the fish erupted in the main channel which was almost 90 feet deep in this area. Keep your eyes peeled at all times especially early in the morning and late in the day, but any species could erupt at any time of day.

Striped/hybrid bass fishing is also picking up. I myself have mainly been fishing after dark with a shallow diving suspending stick bait until this morning. This morning was one of the best days for striped bass I have had this year, so far. :-) I landed over 10 stripers in the 9 - 14 pound range and 3 big hybrids. I caught stripers on top water with a  Zara Spook as well as live thread fin shad. The stripers and hybrids were just crushing both the live bait and the spook. The shad was working the best. I only had 2 free swimmers out with a very small split shot and could not keep up with all the doubles I was getting. I broke off and bent many kahle hooks. The fish were hungry and aggressive this morning.
Back to the night bite info - With the full moon, a lighter and brighter color of stick bait has been working. The color that seems to be working the best for me has bright yellow on the sides and bright purple on the top. Before the full moon I was using a dark green color on top and orange on the bottom. I have been getting numerous bites over the last couple of days after dark, but have only been able to boat a couple per night. I can hear the big fish feeding on the surface but they are not necessarily on the banks with this big bright full moon. For morning striper fishing, start looking at points especially if you can find some buck brush still in the water. The shad will be spawning in the brush and the stripers will not be far behind. As the sun gets high in the sky look out in the deeper water and you will start marking cruising fish at 20 to 50 feet deep.

Crappie fishing is starting to pick up but has not really taken off at this time.  Look for crappie back in the creeks on shallow brush. They will be on the brush or suspended between the bank and the brush. Small jigs and crappie minnows will work the best.

Norfork Lake level is stable with sporadic power generation for level maintenance and currently sits at 552.90. The main lake is clear on the surface. The creeks were also clearing up but over the last couple of days more color in the water appeared. The lake surface water temperature has risen to the mid 60's and this rise was very quick. The fast rise in water temp. may be the cause of the water color change.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.


Sunday, April 17, 2016

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird HIdeaway Resort

Norfork Lake's fishing scene is getting exciting. The lake surface water temperature has reached 60 degrees and should increase a little this week with the forecasted warm nights and daytime temperatures. As the water temperature increases the fish will increasingly become more active. For me the best bite on the lake at this time is for largemouth and smallmouth bass. Many of the bigger fish have moved to the banks and are starting their spawn. If you are a bass fisherman it is definitely a great time to come and fish the lake. A couple of our guests over the weekend landed over 20 smallies on a centipede with approximately half of them being of keeper size.  I landed some nice fish this morning using a swim bait, and jerk bait as well as live bait. Another of our guests was fishing from our dock casting a spinner bait to the shore line and landed 5 largemouth bass, one a 4 pounder. Watch for top water action early and late in the day. They are also coming up for a Zara spook even if you don't see the fish break surface.

Striped bass fishing has had its ups and downs over the last several weeks. They are still scattered though out the lake. When you locate big schools of baitfish the stripers will be close by. The stripers, hybrids and white bass are all in similar type areas. Look back in creeks and coves and on shallow flats. In the early mornings I have found them in shallow water, but as the sun comes up they are moving out to deeper water along with the shad. Trolling a swim bait has been picking up a few nice fish as has fishing with live bait. The night bite is continuing, but like the day bite, one day you can find them then the next day they have moved on and you're looking again. I have been using Kastmaster type baits as well as small spinners to catch these species. With the warming of the water, I anticipate top water action for these species to start very shortly, so keep a watchful eye out. It could happen anywhere- could be in 100 feet of water or along the shoreline.

Crappie fishing is starting to heat up. The best locations for the biggest numbers of fish are back in the shallow waters of the major creeks. Find some brush close to shore and cast out a 1/16 jig and let it fall slowly. When your line tightens set the hook. I landed an almost 16 inch fish the other night while striper fishing. I was throwing a Smithwick Rogue and this fish just hammered my bait. All you could see was the head and the bill of my bait. Talk about being aggressive!

Lake Norfork's current level is falling slowly and sits at 552.88 ft above sea level. The Corps is running one generator sporadically to maintain the lake close to the normal pool of 553.8. The main lake is clearing, but still a bit stained. The creeks and coves are partially clearing with the backs still stained. The surface water temperature is approximately 60 degrees.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.


Monday, April 4, 2016

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

Norfork Lake is providing some exciting fishing for all the anglers with all species. During the month of  March we had warm fronts followed by cold fronts on a continual basis. Very typical of March, but I prefer warm fronts. The lake temperature is in the mid to upper 50's and should cross the 60 degree mark very soon. The fish will get even more active and top water action should become more consistent. We did have some good top water action days in March, however, which is not typical. I will take it!

Striped and hybrid bass action has been improving daily. Live bait is working really well. A couple of my guests took Jim Nichols of Nichols Guide Service out Saturday morning and the big fish was 15+ pounds. Look for stripers on shallow flats and points early and late in the day as well as after dark. The best depth at these times are in 5 to 20 feet of water. They will be chasing shad so have a good top water bait handy or do what I have been doing and use a Kastmaster or blade type bait. The Kastmaster can be used as a top water bait or as a bait to sink to get to those deeper fish. I cast it, as well as, vertical jig it when I find fish on the bottom. The after dark bite is still going strong. Look for an elongated shallow point with deep water nearby and if you mark bait the stripers will be in the area. Throw out a suspending stick bait and work it slowly back to the boat. You can also try other methods of retrieval such as jerking and stopping, on occasion this will work, but the slow retrieval is typically the best. Last night a few twitches then stop method was working the best. We landed a hybrid and striper and missed several others. The fish were really tight on the bank last night. We had to get the bait within a foot of the shoreline, so to say the least we caught a lot of buck brush last evening. :-) During the middle of the day look out in deep water near the channel, and again, if you can find the bait the stripers will be close. They are being found 20 - 35 feet down and trolling is a great method of catching these fish. Fish are being caught all over the lake from Big Creek to the Fouts area and back towards the Red Bank area and a lot of places in between.

Largemouth bass fishing is still very active. The fish are feeding along the deep bluff lines during the day and are on the flats feeding on shad early and late in the day. I landed a nice 4 pound fish last evening vertical jigging with a spoon in 23 feet of water on a big sandy flat. Too bad that John didn't catch this bass as it would have been in the running for a Hummingbird Hideaway Resort Derby winning fish. The white bass and largemouth were schooled up in small pods and feeding heavily on shad. Wiggle warts are still working as well as spinners, jerk baits and soft plastics. Watch for top water action early and late in the day.

Walleye, white bass and crappie fishing are also heating up. From the fish that I have cleaned the majority of them have not spawned yet. This is getting late for the Walleye and whites, but they are ready. I have found the whites and walleye in the same type of areas as the stripers. Crappie are showing up back in creeks in shallow water around brush. I also ran into a huge school of crappie in the back of a small creek in 35 feet of water. The school was 15 - 30 feet thick. I did not have my crappie rod with me so I used my casting rod with a Kastmaster and vertical jigged up 5 fish before I lost the school. They were not on brush, but roaming and feeding on shad.

Norfork Lake level is falling slowly and currently sits at 554.11. The water temperature is slowly rising and was 58 degrees last evening. The creeks, coves and main lake are all stained, with a great fishing color. You can tell that the main lake trying to clear up.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.