Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

The term "March Madness" definitely fits Norfork Lake this month. 3 inches of snow a week ago, 90 degrees yesterday and some thunderstorms and cooler weather on the way. The changing weather patterns play havoc with the fish, but today the fish gave signs of getting back on track.  I saw sporadic surface activity for largemouth bass and striped/hybrid bass, crappie moving in tighter to the banks for their pre-spawn activity, and the white bass and walleye have started to move out to the flats which indicates the majority of the walleye and whites have completed their spawn.

Today was a very interesting morning of fishing. My game plan was to search a different area of the lake for striped bass. I didn't find striped bass, but I ended up catching fish on 5 different types of baits. In the dark I started casting a suspending stick bait to the shoreline. I landed largemouth and crappie on my Smithwick Rogue. As the sun was coming up I casted out my blade bait, Kastmaster, and landed some whites. As the morning wore on I started casting out a paddle tail swim bait to the shoreline and landed a largemouth, then in deeper water I dropped a spoon and landed a walleye. Live thread fin shad landed a second walleye and I broke off a big fish, maybe what I was looking for.
Striped bass fishing the last couple of days has slowed with the cool system that rolled though our area last week. The snow and cold temperatures dropped the surface lake temperature from 56 degrees to 50 degrees. This morning the lake had warmed back up to 56 degrees. A few days ago the stripers that had moved back into the major creek arms were biting aggressively and could be found anywhere from 20 feet of water to 50 feet of water. Most fish that I was catching and marking were suspended 15 to 35 feet down. Yesterday I did mark a few stripers, but they were not feeding. This will change with the warming water very shortly and the good bite will begin again.

Largemouth bass fishing has been good. This species is moving in close to the shoreline early and late in the day. This morning brought some of the best surface activity that I have seen so far this year. This is still early for topwater, but a very good sign. This morning I caught largemouth before sunrise on a suspending jerk bait, as well as, after sunrise largemouth were being caught on a 5 inch paddle tail swim bait by one of my guests. The topwater started just as the sun got above the horizon. Start carrying your favorite topwater bait as I believe this will become a little more common each day. Alabama rigs are also working very well rigged out with a 3.5 to 4 inch swimbait. The shorter baits are still working a little better than longer baits, but this will change as the water continues to warm.

Crappie fishing is becoming very good. This species is in their pre-spawn mode and can be found in very shallow water as well as on 20 - 30 feet brush piles. Cast out a small paddle tail grub or small swimbait to the shoreline. Let it sink to the bottom and reel back to the boat. Small spinners will also work. Today one of my guests had a great morning of crappie fishing. He found fish stacked in and over 25 - 35 feet brush piles. He was vertical jigging with a spoon. Only 4 of the 11 crappie he kept had eggs in them. I am not sure if some of the crappie have already spawned or not. If you find some sunken brush along the shoreline that is exposed, fish this brush as it will be holding crappie.

I caught walleye this morning, one on a shallow flat in 18 feet of water and the other was out in 65 feet of water suspended down 55 feet. I marked bait from 40 feet to the bottom and saw 5 big arcs in the bait. I assumed the arcs were stripers so I dropped a 1/2 ounce spoon and landed a nice 23 inch walleye. You tell me what the current pattern of our walleye are? :-) The majority of the walleye have spawned and should be moving to the flats to feed. Deep diving crank baits, crawler harnesses and dragging live minnows will start to pick up some nice fish.

White bass have also completed the majority of their spawning activities. I am starting to find scattered fish on large flats suspended down 20 to 30 feet in 30 - 50 feet of water. I caught several nice whites on my Kastmaster bade bait. It will not be long until large schools of whites will be roaming shallow flats feeding heavily on shad. Topwater frenzies will erupt and make the water boil. Topwater baits, blade baits, spoons and swim baits will all pick up some nice fish.

Norfork Lake surface water temperature this morning was 55 - 56 degrees. The lake level is falling very slowly and currently sits at 545.25 which is approximately 1 ft drop over the last 2 weeks. The lake is somewhat stained but clearly is occurring.

Happy fishing a see you on the lake.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort 870-492-5113

Norfork Lake has entered the early spring bite pattern. Some species are spawning and others are moving out of the deep, cold water to shallower water following the shad. The shad are moving shallower due to the warmer water. Walleye and white bass have started their early spring spawn while other species are feeding very heavily on threadfin shad. The flowering trees have been blossomed out and the Redbuds are just starting to bloom. Remember the old saying that when the dogwoods are in bloom the crappie are not far behind on their spawn. Well I bet the crappie are not far away from moving into the shoreline. Our lake water warmed quickly this year and is still 2 - 5 degrees warmer than prior years. Last year the surface temperature in the morning was around 50 and 2 years ago it was in the upper 40's. Yesterday our morning surface temperature was 54.5 degrees. As always, the surface temp warms several degrees more during the afternoon with the warm sun.

The striped bass bite has been good. They have moved to the shallower water of the major creeks. I am finding big schools of fish roaming large flats as well as close to the creek channels. Sunday I was fishing with a friend with live shad. We were in 40 feet of water and a school came under us with fish from 15 feet to 40 feet. All of sudden one pole got buried, then the second, and so forth. We had 4 big stripers and hybrids hooked at the same time and it was total chaos on my boat. We ended up landing 3 of the 4 with one getting too close to the motor and cutting the line. That must have been Kyle's 40 pounder. :-) Locations vary, but I like to fish secondary points that have the creek channel swinging in close to the shore. I have found fish both on the deeper bluff line side, as well as, points on the shallower side. The best bite at this time, for me, has started around 9AM and goes until the early afternoon. Live bait is working great, but spooning has also picked up a few fish. Tolling with swimbaits or Alabama rigs are also working very well. You need to get your baits down to around 20 - 40 feet deep as the fish are at all levels. I have also started to fish after dark when the wind allows me. My first time out for the evening was after I wrote my last fishing report and I landed a couple stripers. I have fished several other times after dark and caught either stripers or hybrids each time. The fish have started to feed after dark so check the hooks on your suspending stick baits and find a good shallow point with deep water close and give it a try. It is a blast hooking into a large striper when you can not see anything and everything is by feel. A couple of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort Facebook followers read my last report and headed out after dark and landed a couple really nice fish.

Largemouth Bass are also starting to move a little closer to the shoreline. I have caught a few in the early morning up tight throwing a jerk bait, but most have been on the short side. I would look at about 15 - 30 deep off of bluff line points. Some will be suspended, but the bigger ones will be on the bottom. It will not be long until they start moving in with a vengeance and start their pre-spawn feed. Another great spot to fish will be brush piles in 20 to 30 feet of water. The bass will be hanging around the outsides of the brush watching for those shad that decide to venture away from the brush. Plastics worked along the bottom are working and crank baits are starting to pick up some nice fish.

White bass are still back in the creeks and coves finishing up their spawn. Try casting out Rooster tails or Roadrunners up close to the shore-line and retrieve slowly. You will also start to pick up some nice crappie fishing this way. After the majority of white bass finish up spawning they will start moving out to the flats and then topwater action for whites will start. I look forward to this time as it is a blast. I am seeing a few whites come up early in the morning, but  nothing to get real excited about yet.

Norfork Lake level rises slowly when power generation stops and drops when the generators are turned back on. Currently minimal generation is occurring and the lake level is 546.16. The surface water temperature in the morning has been 53 - 55 degrees depending on how far back in the creeks you go. The water is stained back in the creeks and the main lake is clear to partly stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.