Tuesday, March 20, 2018

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

Norfork Lake fishing is still trying to get to a consistent spring fishing pattern. Not a lot has changed over the last week except for the ups and downs of the weather. Everyday brings different weather. But on a positive note the crappie and bass bites are good and the striped bass bite is fair.

Striped bass are still located back in the creeks heading towards the warmer water. In the late afternoon they tend to head out a short distance, but are still in the creeks. Most of the stripers that I have caught over the week have been on live bait, threadfin, gizzard shad and shiners. They have mainly been hitting free swimming baits (with no weights) or baits with just a small split shot. If you're fishing with no weight, do not move much, and let the bait swim free. They will go to the depth that the fish are looking for. If you use a small split shot move slowly with your trolling motor so as to keep the baits farther up in the water column. If you want to use down poles with a larger weight set your depth at about 15 feet deep. I am doing both, but am getting most of my strikes on a small split shot rig. The cold fronts do affect how the fish bite, but the fronts have not chased them out of the creeks. Artificial baits are working as well. If you like to troll, use an umbrella or Alabama rig. Your bait needs to be between 10 and 20 feet deep. The other day on my way back to the resort, I was checking out a few deep bluff lines located back in the creeks and found big hybrids on the bottom in 25 feet of water. I was able to drop a spoon and vertical jig and caught a really big hybrid. Early in the morning the fish can be in really shallow water then as the day wears on they tend to move out to 30 - 40 feet deep water.

Crappie fishing has picked up. They are still on the brush piles and have not moved onto the banks to spawn at this time. I believe they really want to, but the cooler weather is keeping them from proceeding. A few warm days and nights should get the crappie heading to shallow water. One of our guests found crappie on 25 feet deep brush piles. The fish were near the top of the brush 15 - 20 feet down. It seemed to him that if he went deeper he only caught smaller fish. Vertical jigging a small 1/4 ounce spoon was working great, but using a small grub with a 1/8 to 1/4 ounce jig head will work as well. Of course, live minnows on a slip float will work wonders with the crappie, as it does with all species. When they move to the banks cast out a small spinner bait, such as a Roadrunner, or a small crank bait or a small grub to catch some of these shallow fish.

The largemouth and spotted bass bite is still good. The pattern is basically the same as a week ago. Head about half way back into coves and cast out a red crank bait. The red color is working best in the stained water, but if you are working in browner water try a lighter color, such as white and chartreuse.

Norfork Lake level has risen slightly, about 4 inches, over the last week and currently sits at 553.51 ft. The surface water temperature has stayed about the same from a week ago and currently ranges from 49 - 53 degrees, depending on your location on the water. Parts of the main lake, as well as, some of the creeks are clear and others are stained. I have fished most areas of the lake from the mid lake creeks to the Bennetts area, and up to the Red Bank area. All species of fish are scattered throughout.

Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's annual fishing derby has commenced. Win large cash prize for the longest fish in three different species, along with a chance to win a free week stay. Give us a call at 870-492-5113 to make your cabin reservation and to join the derby. Go to our web site for further details at www.hummingbird-hideaway.com.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

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

Norfork Lake fishing is getting better and better. Spring is in the air and the fish have sensed it! Walleye should be spawning. White bass are at the beginning stage of their spawn. The crappie spawn will not be far off. Largemouth will start to stage with a little increase in water temperature. Norfork Lake is in great shape and the fishing patterns are becoming similar to prior years.

Striped bass and hybrid bass fishing is picking up daily. Various baits are working, with live bait (shiners or shad) being one of the better types of baits. You will be able to catch fish on A-rigs by either casting or trolling, casting out a Kastmaster, casting or trolling a 5 inch swim bait, or vertical jigging with a spoon. I am finding most of my fish from 35 feet of water to all the way up to the shore line. The fish are suspended from the surface down to 15 or 20 feet deep. The majority of the bait  I am finding is
suspended up in the water column. The warmest water is typically holding the most active fish. Bennetts Bayou, and all the major creeks should be holding fish, as well as, Big Creek in the southern portion of the lake. As you head into the creeks the water will gradually get warmer the farther back you go. Today I had a guest with his two grandsons land some nice hybrids, using shiners back in Bennetts. He then went into shallower water and started to cast out an A-Rig and landed both hybrids and big white bass. Two days ago I was fishing the same area and landed 3 nice striped bass all on shad. As the water continues to warm the fish will get more active and fishing will get real exciting.

White bass are really close to their spawn if not already doing it. I have been catching the small males in the backs of creeks for the last week, but the catch today of the larger females tells me the white bass run should be in or close to full swing. The upcoming warmer weather, towards the end of the week should have the whites going crazy. Small spinners and blade type baits are two very good baits to catch the whites this time of year. Fish the backs of creeks and up river in the Calamity to Udall area.

The bass bite has been really good for my guests over the last week. The pattern that they found was to go about halfway back into coves off of the main lake and fish the banks with a crank bait. Red was the color they had the most luck with and they found lipless, square bill and regular bills were all catching fish. They were landing over 10 - 12 keeper size fish each day. There were alot of smaller ones being caught as well, but this is very normal.The best area for my guests was from Cranfield to past Red Bank. The color of water really did not matter.

Crappie fishing is in transition. I found some nice crappie back in Fall Creek yesterday in about 25 feet of water lying on the bottom. I had to keep one since it wouldn't swim away but otherwise was releasing my fish. When the sun comes out they move up in the water column. Spoons, small jigs and live minnows are all working. The crappie I cleaned was full of eggs and you could tell it was very close to spawn. I will hazard a guess and say that in the next week or so you can start working the banks with a small Roadrunner and will catch some nice fish. This is also assuming the weather is stable and the water temperature continues to rise.

Norfork Lake level is holding fairly stable and currently sits at 553.21 feet above sea level. The surface lake temperature ranges from 49 degrees up to 53 degrees depending on where you are on the lake. The water clarity varies depending on your locations. The water is still slightly light brown from Hummingbird's cove to around Red Bank area. Most other areas that I have been to are stained to clear. The mid lake creeks yesterday were as clear as I have seen in quite a while.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

Norfork Lake is in the midst of change from the cold water winter fishing pattern to the beginning of the spring fishing season. When the water temperature reaches the mid to low 40's during the winter season most species go to deep water and go into somewhat of a dormant state. As the water warms the fish start to get active and move up in the water column and begin to feed heavily. From past experience the mid 50's seem to be a magic temperature to get the fish going. We are almost there! Over the last week, after our heavy rains, I have seen many changes to the fish patterns. I am starting to find bigger shad moving off the bottom and am starting to mark some bigger arcs in or near these bait balls. I have also netted thread fin shad at my dock, which is a great sign for the bass fisherman. Typically I have found that shad move off of my dock when the water temperature drops below 50 degrees. I've caught a few bass up in shallow water and have found the big whites are starting to move out of the deep cold water. Hybrids are beginning to school up and are feeding heavily once you find them. The striped bass are one of the last species to move out of the deep water, but I have seen a few caught over the last week.

With the heavy rains and the fast rise in the lake level, parts of the lake has turned brown, but this will start to drop out very soon. The lake is still roughly 2 feet below normal pool so we are in great shape for this time of year. Today I headed up to Missouri waters graphing various spots as I went. I found the water to be brown from the mouth of my cove to just north of the Red Bank area. The water is stained in the Calamity area and continued to clear the farther north I went. I fished with live shiners from the Calamity to Cane Creek. I got lots and lots of bites, but very few fish. I believe most of my bites were white bass and walleye. It was breezy and I was drifting up river, probably faster than I should have been to catch the walleye. Yesterday I fished the 3 mid lake major creeks, found a lot of bait in 30 feet of water, but could only catch small whites. The water in these creeks are stained and in great shape. One of my guests fished in Float Creek this morning and hooked into several bigger fish and had great battles for 10 minutes or so each, but for various reasons lost each before getting to see them. Several days ago I headed into the Bennetts Bayou area where the water was brown with lots of floating debris. Yesterday a friend fished in the Bayou area and said the water is still brown, but there wasn't much floating debris. He ended up landing 3 nice hybrids on live shiners in the brown water. The fish were in 30 feet of water and suspended down 10 - 20 feet. I was fishing on the Cranfield flats a few days after the heavy rain and found large schools of hybrids and big white bass. You could tell the whites had just moved out of deep cold water as their coloring was really light and they were still very lethargic. The hybrids I have caught are very aggressive and give a great fight.

Some walleye have already moved to their spawning areas and others are staging and will soon follow. The walleye spawn typically lasts into April. White bass are starting to stage for their spawn. I am finding many of the males up the creeks, but the females are still waiting for the perfect conditions.  Assuming we don't get any severe cold fronts, the white bass spawn will be in full swing very shortly. The largemouth, spots and smallmouth will be on their beds typically during April & May.

I will continue being out on the lake looking and fishing most days of the week. I am a early riser so I am typically fishing in the mornings, but on occasion I do go out in the afternoon. I also like the after dark bite for stripers and walleye. I have not been out yet after dark as I really don't like fishing after dark when the air temp is in the 30's. As soon as things warm up a bit more I will start seeing what's biting after dark. It is a blast hooking into a 15 pound fish when you can't see anything and all your fishing is by feel.

The Norfork Lake temperature varies from 48 - 55 degrees depending on where you are fishing. The farther up river and up creeks you go the warmer it gets. The water is brown from Red Bank to the 101 bridge, brown from Bennetts Bayou to Bidwell, and stained most other areas. As you head south in the main lake the water clarity gets better and better. The current lake level is 552.56 and rising very slowly.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

Winter time fishing is slowly coming to an end and I am looking forward to the warmer weather fishing of spring. The lake surface water temperature is rising slowly which will help make all species more active.

At this time bass fishing has been good and walleye fishing is starting to pick up. I have been catching some nice sized spotted bass and largemouth bass with many shorts among the keeper sized fish. Yesterday morning I tried out a tube jig, working it in about 25 - 30 feet of water with good success. The slower I worked the bait along the bottom the better. I have also been picking up some nice fish vertical jigging a spoon in 30 - 45 feet of water. Brush piles are also holding some nice fish.

Walleye are starting their spawning run. Some of the fish are staging out in 20 - 30 feet of water and others are heading into shallower water. Gravel banks will be some of the best areas to find these spawning fish. One of the well known spots to fish for walleye is up river in the Calamity area and farther north into Missouri. Berkley's Flicker Shad and Smithwick's Rogues are a couple of good baits to cast out for those shallow spawning fish. For the deeper walleye drag a crawler harness or a live shiner on the bottom at a very slow speed. Remember with live bait you may need to feed line out once you get a strike to let the walleye take the whole bait into it mouth. Other areas that will be holding walleye are back in the major creeks. Also look for those gravel banks.

The last several mornings (not including today) I was out looking for striped bass in the Cranfield area. I am finally marking a few big fish following bait balls, but every time I find a few fish I am graphing and not fishing. When I start to fish I lose site of them. The good sign is that I am starting to mark bait balls suspended down 20 - 40 feet in 50 - 60 feet of water. As the water warms the larger bait will continue coming off the bottom and the fish will follow.

What I have found in the bait balls is white bass. This is telling me the whites are starting to move towards their spawning areas. It will not be long before the Bennetts and Calamity areas will be filled with spawning whites.

Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's 4th annual fishing derby commences on March 1st. Last year produced some really nice fish and the winners won nice monetary prizes for the longest striped bass, crappie and large/smallmouth bass. All of our guests can enter for a chance to win the longest fish categories, as well as, a drawing for a free week stay.

The Norfork Lake level is currently starting to rise with the current rains we are having and sits at 545.56. If we get the rain that is forecast I can see a substantial rise in the lake level over the next couple of days. Norfork Lake is currently 8 feet below normal pool. The surface water temperature is also on the rise and currently is in the mid 40's. The main lake is clearing as well as the creeks and coves. The lake is still not as clear as it typically is this time of year. Norfork Lake is shaping up to be in great condition for spring fishing.

Happy fishing a see you on the lake.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

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

January has brought our normal significant weather pattern changes. About 12 days ago we went from the 50's to single digits for about 6 days and even had several inches of snow. Over the last several days we were back in the mid 60's but here we go again with a slight cool down. All of these changes in the weather affect what the bait and fish do. On the 10th of January large schools of fish were feeding in about 60 feet of water, but after the cold snap the hybrids and stripers disappeared, even though the bait was still hanging around. Normal winter time striped bass fishing would have the fish out in the deep water channels feeding on suspended bait in 40 - 60 feet down. The bait is there, but only scattered fish are showing up. With the cold weather and snow, the water temperature dropped about 3 - 4 degrees, but over the last several days the surface water temperature has risen 2 to 3 degrees. All of the changes confuse the fish as well as the fishermen, including me.

We had several fisherman staying with us over the weekend all fishing for stripers, a few were caught, but it was tough going. The areas where I found fish were in the Henderson area close to the bluffs. Big balls of shad were being pushed into the bluffs by the west wind and there were a few stripers hanging around 30 feet down. Both spoons and live shiners caught fish. Yesterday, I was out fishing from the 62 bridge area all the way down to Fouts Marina and only marked a few lone fish. I did more looking than fishing. I heard from a friend that he found  stripers in very shallow water a few days ago, so I guess I am going to need to think outside the box and look at areas that I would typically avoid this time of year. The last two days the wind was howling so I elected to stay at the resort today instead of fish. I will be back at it in the morning and start the hunt again.

I ended my fishing excursion yesterday by doing a little bass fishing. I headed into a cove that the wind was blowing very strongly into. I stopped on a secondary point and found large balls of shad next to the the shore and a few shad  floating on the surface. I tied on a Rogue (a shallow running suspending jerk bait) and started casting to the shore. I gave the bait a couple of hard jerks to get it down, then let it rest for a few seconds, then start twitching the bait softly, then stopped. I did this back to the boat. On the second cast the bass started to get active and I landed 3 largemouth bass in a very short period of time. No monsters, but fun. The wind was blowing so hard that the waves were starting to splash over the boat so I called it a day. The other location where my guests were finding bass was along deep bluff lines. The fish were about 30 feet deep. Live bait was catching these suspended largemouth and spotted bass.

A few small shad are starting to die from the cold water, which is very normal for this time of year. If you can find a school of shad that are distressed, on the surface and close to the shoreline, there will more than likely be bass in the area feeding away. I started to see a little of this yesterday, but I really could not tell if the shad were distressed or just being blown into shore from the strong wind.

Norfork Lake is currently stable and sits at 546.46 feet above sea level. The lake surface temperature yesterday was around 45 degree (+/- one degree). The main lake if finally starting to show some sign of clearing as well as the creeks and coves. The weather forecast for the rest of the week is to be around normal, 40's to 50's in the days and high 20's to low 30's at night.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort

Happy New Year to all of my followers - Wishing you many fun and exciting fishing trips!

Norfork Lake's fish have moved to their winter time pattern. The lake water temperature this morning has dropped to 44.5 - 45.5 degrees in the main lake (near our resort) and cooler back in the shallower creeks and coves. With the drop in lake water temperature, shad tend to move to deep water.  I have been marking a lot of bait in the main river channel predominantly 30 - 40 ft deep in 70 - 100+ feet of water. I also checked out some flats and the bait typically started to show up when I got to 40 - 45 feet of water and was suspended from 30 feet to the bottom.

It has been a while since I last reported, and has actually been a couple weeks since I have been on the lake. My wife and I visited our grandkids in Texas over the holidays, but I am finally back fishing Norfork Lake. Over the last two days I spent a lot of time looking and graphing to see what the bait and fish have been doing. I mainly have been searching for striped and hybrid bass. Yesterday (Monday 1/8) I headed east out of our resort to the bridges. This is typically a great winter time place to catch striped bass. I marked some bait, but very few fish. I then checked north of the bridges and found bait in the mouth of the cove near 101 boat dock, but was not marking many fish. With the amount of bait in this area there will be fish there very soon. Of course I checked out several areas between our resort and the 101 Boat Dock area, but nothing I saw was very exciting at this time. A friend told me he had been trolling and catching stripers north of Cranfield, so I headed back towards our resort and went up river. Again I found bait, but this time I also marked fish. No schools, but a lot of 2 to 3 fish swimming together fairly consistently. I started fishing in about 50 feet of water in the mouths of several coves. I was vertical jigging with a 1 ounce spoon and found fish suspended 30 feet down. I spooned up a nice hybrid and a striped bass. I then headed over to the river channel and started to head up river a little farther. I found bait 40 feet down in 80 feet of water and started marking fish on top of the bait so I started spooning again. I got 4 big pull downs, but missed them all. I guess I need to practice more on my hook setting technique for these deep water fish. :-) The fish were actually inside of the bait. I had some guests fishing the same area, but slightly farther north in the channel and they landed 3 nice stripers with one over 20 pounds. My guests were using live shiners set at about 30 feet down. This morning I headed back towards Cranfield and checked out several other areas, but ended up in the river channel and again found fish buried inside of the bait 40 feet down, but I had the same results as yesterday, 5 great hits, but missed them all. Guess I will get them next time.

There are 3 very good methods of winter time fishing for striped bass. Vertical jigging with a spoon is one fun method and a big thrill. You will be jigging the spoon up and down and all of sudden the rod decides it does not want to jig up and gets buried. Make sure you are holding on tight. One important tip for winter time jigging is to slow down your presentation. Small twitches of your rod tip typically works better than the fast and large pull ups. Live bait fishing is another good method to catch stripers. All you need is live brooder shiners, a 2 ounce weight tied to your line with a 3 - 4 foot leader, and a number 4 to a number 1 size hook. I try to match my hook size to the size of bait I am using. Set your bait right at the top of the bait you are marking, fish will come up for the bait, but typically will not go down after it. The third method that is currently working really well for some is trolling an umbrella or alabama rig. When I troll I like to use 5 inch swim baits (Reaction Innovation's Skinny Dippers are one of my favorites). You will need to get your bait down to a 20 - 35 feet depth. Down riggers are the easiest method to get your bait down deep, but you can also use weighted umbrella rigs or you can use in-line weights.

I have not fished for bass or crappie yet, but will shortly. I did notice yesterday morning, as I was heading out about 7:30AM, that there were a few fish coming up next to the bank. They looked small, but sometimes it is hard to tell. Might want to check out a jerk bait. Typically the bass that I catch this time of year are in deeper water 30 - 50 feet down on the bottom close or near brush.

The Norfork Lake level is falling slowly and currently sits at 547.86. The surface water temperature this morning was 44.5 - 45.5 degrees. The lake is stained.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.