Tuesday, November 10, 2020

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

The fall fishing season on Norfork Lake has started. This means to me that all species start feeding heavily for the cold winter months. But the best part is that most species school up to feed. When you get into a feeding school of fish, you’ll have a blast.

For me the bass bite has been the best over the last week. You can find this species all over the lake and in several different types of areas. The area that has been best for me is in 30 to 40 feet of water on the edges of large flats. Typically, this is close to a ledge or at an area that gets deeper very quickly. Use your GPS to find contour lines that are very close together on the outer edge of the flat which will show the contour lines farther apart. The bait likes this type of area and the bass will be feeding heavily. I like to vertical jig with a spoon, from ½ to 1 ounce depending on the wind conditions. Drop shot rigs with a small worm should work great. A second method that is still working is to cast out a crankbait that dives 12 to 15 feet deep. The fish might be on bluffs or on the

shallow side of the lake. White with a chartreuse back has been the best colors for both crankbaits and spoons. The old standby, worm or jig fishing, is also catching some nice fish.

Over the last week white bass have started to show up in large schools more consistently. You may find this species feeding on the bottom, suspended, or just cruising through the area. I am finding whites in a variety of depths, but recently it seems that 30 to 40 feet is the magic number. The easiest time to catch them is when they are feeding on the bottom. I vertical jig with a spoon and the best thing is that when you are jigging your spoon you may catch any species in the lake especially if there is lots of bait around.

Crappie fishing has been pretty good. One thing that I have noticed is that the schools of crappie are roaming around and not necessarily holding tight to the brush. So, don’t hesitate looking out from the brush especially if the bite is tough. Jigging with a small

spoon or a small grub is working great. You can also use live bait. When I have marked crappie on my graph, they have been suspended down 12 feet to close to the bottom. You either need to see them on your graph or keep trying different depths until you find the one where the fish are feeding.

Striped bass and hybrid bass fishing is picking up, but still isn’t consistent. They can be found back in some of the major creeks, such as Bennett’s Bayou and also up river from the Calamity area up to the Udall area. They are starting to school and if you find them feeding you will catch fish. I am starting to find both stripers and hybrids on the flats where I have been fishing, but it is the beginning of this pattern. Very soon large schools will show up on the flats early in the morning and then again in the evenings, if prior experience holds true. I have caught this species on swim baits, as well as spoons. I have found them in the same depths as the other species, but don’t hesitate checking in deeper water as they will continue to

move around to follow the bait fish.

I have not been very diligent in writing a fishing report lately, but if you want some great fishing tips and to see what is currently biting, like Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook and you will get frequent fishing updates on Norfork Lake.

The lake level is falling slowly with periodic power generation and currently sits at 555.8 feet MSL. The lake surface water temperature has been fairly stable and was 64 degrees this morning. This temp should start to fall again with the cool front entering our area as I am writing this report. The lake is clear, but still somewhat stained in our area. The farther south you go the clearer the water gets.

Happy fish and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Norfork Lake fishing in October can be lots of fun, but also can be inconsistent. There are many changes going on in the lake which effect the movement of the predator fish and bait. The water temperature starts to cool and the main thing is that the lake turns over. The lake is in the process of turning over, but it has been very gradual. The thermocline has dropped to somewhere between 50 and 60 feet and will continue to fall until the lake totally flips. 

There has been a really good bite for bass. Largemouth and spotted bass can be found all over the lake. If you like top water fishing, throw your favorite topwater bait onto points where you can see sunken brush still out in the water. The fish are inside of it and will come up and slam the bait. Spinnerbait, lipless crankbaits, regular diving crank baits and jigs are all working in different area. The bass are also on the bluffs, especially on points of large coves or small cuts in the bluff wall. Smallmouth bass are starting to show up as well. Keep your eyes open for topwater action. The bass will chase shad out in open water just about anywhere, but especially on the large flats. 

Crappie fishing is also picking up nicely. This species has been moving back to the brush and they can

be found at varying depths. Brush in 15 feet of water out to brush in 35 feet of water may be holding crappie. Small spoons, small twister tail or paddle tail grubs and live minnows on a slip float are all working. The fish can be at any depth over the brush from 7 feet down to the bottom. The depth of the fish will vary depending on the time of day. 

White bass have finally come out of the depths of the lake and are showing up in different locations. Last evening, I was checking out a large flat outside of a cove and starting to hear what I thought was surface feeding fish. I could not see any, so I started to head toward the sound. I finally saw white water on the other side of the lake along a long deep bluff line. There were schools of whites feeding heavily. They didn’t stay up long, and kept moving around. I stopped the boat in an area where I had seen the fish come up and waited. It was not long before they came up again and again. I had my ½ ounce

Kastmaster tied on and started to cast. I worked the bait in a jerk, stop and reel motion and kept it close to the surface and they loved it. From about 5:45PM until 6:45PM they were active. When it started to get dark the topwater in this deep-water area stopped. I heard some activity on the shallow side of the lake and headed that way. I found hybrids and whites feeding heavily in very shallow water, 5 ft or less. The hybrids were coming completely out of the water at least a foot above the surface, it was amazing to see and very fun to catch. Top water baits, such as a Zara Spook would have worked great, but I can cast a Kastmaster farther. 

Striped bass fishing has been very inconsistent. I have found them off a large flat in the mid lake area,

as well as, out in very deep water. On the flat the fish were in 45 to 55 feet of water suspended to the bottom and in the deep water they have been suspended 35 to 60 feet down in 100+ feet of water.  I have caught fish in this area has been by vertical jigging a ¾ to 1-ounce spoon. Live bait may work better. As the lake continues to cool and the turn over completes this species will become very active and start to feed very heavily. 

The surface lake temperature has ranged from 69 degrees to 73 degrees depending on location and time of day. The lake is still falling about 3 to 4 inches per day and currently sits at 557.05 feet msl. The water is stained, but does start to clear more as you head south. I forecast a great fall fishing season so get ready to have some fun. 

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

The bite for all species on Norfork Lake is getting better and better. September fishing can have its challenges due to the changing water temperatures, changing lake levels, and frontal systems, but all species are biting. Not necessarily every day, but I believe they call that fishing. The striped bass bite is getting pretty good. Crappie are moving back to the brush so at least you know where to find them. The walleye bite has been good, but it does take some work to locate them. The bass bite is almost always good whether you like to catch them in shallow or in deep water. 

Striped Bass fishing has really improved over the last week in various parts of the lake. I have found two different patterns for this species, but time of the day may have something to do with it. Early in the morning, occasionally starting before sunrise, I have found stripers on large flats feeding heavily on shad. They can be anywhere from 20 feet of water

out to 40 feet towards the bottom. They are starting to school and when you find that large school of fish it is a fantastic bite. Other times the fish are scattered out and it takes a little bit more effort to catch them. The early morning bite seems to last no later than 8am or so. This morning after the bite slowed on the flat where I was fishing, I decided to check out a different type of area for the striped bass. I have caught fish out in deep water along a bluff wall in past years, and this year appears to be the same. I was in 120 – 150 feet of water and the fish were suspended down 35 – 40 feet deep. I found a large school of feeding fish once in this area, but most of the time I was marking 1 to 3 fish at a time. I have been using several different methods to catch striped bass. I have been slow trolling a Berkley Flicker Minnow, size 7 & 9, with a 1-ounce snap on weight about 50 feet behind the bait with another 50 feet of line out. (This method is mainly for the flats.) I am also starting to

vertical jig with a ¾ ounce spoon more often than I troll. I have jigged up stripers in both of these areas. The hardest part about fishing for suspended fish with a spoon is getting it down to the right depth. If you have a  fish finder than picks your spoon up, this makes it simple, but if it does not, you need to either count down your bait, my rod and bait takes 8 seconds to get down to 40 feet, or drop it to the bottom and count the cranks up until you get to the desired depth. The stripers will continue to move around and as the water cools and the lake turns over the fish will be in many different types of area. 

Crappie fishing has been good, but has had its ups and downs, I believe due to the various frontal systems that has gone through our area. The best areas have been brush piles that are in 20- 30 feet of water. The fish will either be suspended on the top of the brush or

buried inside of it. Small jigging spoons or small plastics with a twister tail or a paddle tail are working great. Live minnows either on their own or tipped on a plastic jig will also work well. I have found crappie on both main lake brush, as well as, brush back in a creek. 

Walleye fishing has slowed a little, but we are still picking up some nice ones, along with a lot of shorts. Early in the morning and prior to sunrise

they are being caught on long rocky points that jet out into the lake. They have typically been on the sides any where from 16 feet deep, down to 32 feet deep. During the day and late afternoon, they seem to be in 25 to 34 feet of water. Crawler harnesses with a bottom bouncer or trolling with a minnow style crankbaits are both working. Drop shot rigs should also work with either a nighcrawler or large minnow. As the water cools, they will move up tight onto the shoreline and casting for them will start to work better, especially early and late in the day. 

Bass fishing has been good and they are being found in many different areas. Casting topwater baits, spinners and buzz baits are working for the very shallow fish especially where there is

lots of brush still under watewr. There will be many shorts in shallow water, but there will also be a few lunkers. Jigs and worms are also working along the bluffs and out in 15 to 30 feet of water. Vertical jigging spoons will pick up some nice fish. Work the deeper water, as well as, jigging near or on brush. Several days ago, I was trolling my Flicker minnow out in 80 feet of water and picked up some really nice largemouth that were suspend down 25 feet. Bass are on main lake points, as well as, back in the creeks. 

Norfork Lake level is falling and currently sits at 561.18’ MSL. The lake surface temperature this morning was in the high 70’s. The main lake and creeks are stained but should start to clear as the lake continues to cool.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

The summer time heat had been forecast to cool down, then we get a beautiful summer type day in the upper 80’s. Fishing has been going on steadily during the summer but I haven’t had much time allotted to fishing. Over the last couple of weeks. I have been able to get back to somewhat of my normal routine, but I’m still not totally there yet. At least I have been out on the lake 4 or 5 times a week and actually have even been out in the afternoons, which is rare for me. I am mostly an early morning fisherman.

At this time, it appears that bass fishing is the best bite, with walleye running a close second. Crappie fishing is improving and I think it will take off shortly. If you are a bluegill fisherman the bite is very good.

I have been mainly trolling Berkley Flicker Minnows, size 7, in 25 to 32 feet of water. I am trolling at 1.4 mph with my trolling motor. I am still using 8-pound test monofilament line. I let our about 50 feet of line then add on a snap weight with a 1-ounce sinker. I then let out another 50 feet of line. My bait is getting down to around 25 feet of water. With this method of fishing I have caught almost all species in the lake, except for striped and hybrid bass. The type of area that has been best for me is the long shallow main lake points that jet way out into the lake. I try to follow the ridge of the point or stay slightly off to one side or the other keeping in the strike zone depth. My main goal lately has been looking for walleye. The best part

of fishing this method is that if the walleye are not biting at the time, there will be largemouth bass and spotted bass to take up the slack. On two different occasions over the last week the channel catfish were hammering the baits. I bounce around different areas of the lake, from the midlake area, then up northeast to the Cranfield area, and then farther up river. I have been able to catch a lot of walleye, but a lot of them have been short. I believe I have landed more keeper size  bass over the last couple of weeks than I have in a long time. If you are not into trolling, you can cast out a jig or worm and work it back to the boat along the bottom. Vertical jigging a spoon will also work for all these species. I would use a ½ to ¾ ounce spoon and move around slowly jigging along the bottom.

Crappie fishing is also getting good. Today one of my guests was checking out a couple of his go to brush piles and landed 6 nice keepers in the 12 – 13 inch size range. He missed many others. The bottom of the brush needs to be in 25 – 30 feet of water and the best brush piles come up to about 15 - 20 feet of water. The crappie were on the tops as well as buried inside of the brush. Small ¼ ounce spoons were working for him, but small grubs or just crappie minnows should work as well.

 I have not been striper fishing since the beginning of August, but will get back to it shortly. There are several areas in the midlake area where this species will show up shortly. There are currently scattered stripers roaming the deep waters in the midlake area, as I have marked them and one of my guests got to land one trolling a deep diving crank bait.

 Norfork Lake level is falling about 2 – 3 inches per day and currently sits at 562.73 feet MSL. The surface water temperature is starting to drop slightly and currently is in the very low 80’s. The water is stained throughout the lake, but this will clear up as the water cools.

 Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Fishing Norfork Lake has entered its summer pattern with striped bass going deep and most other species hoovering around the old shoreline of roughly 23 feet. It appears there may be a thermocline formed in the 20-foot range, plus or minus a foot or two. Hard to tell with a depth finder when it’s this shallow.

Striped bass fishing has been pretty good once you find the fish. They seem to be moving in and out of the major creeks. I am currently finding them on main lake bluff line points, especially when the point transitions from solid rock to chunk rock or gravel. The stripers seem to be close to the point, but still out in deep water 80 to 100 feet and most of the ones I have been catching are suspended 60 to 70 feet down. Some smaller stripers and hybrids are suspended about 20 to 30 feet down feeding on the shad which is staying close to the surface down to 20+ feet of water. The best fishing time for me at this time has been around 6:30am to 9am. There have been many reports of striped bass being caught lake wide, especially from the mid-lake area down to the dam and from the dam back towards Big Creek. I have mainly been fishing with threadfin and gizzard shad, but vertical jigging a spoon is working as well.

Largemouth bass fishing has also been good. The areas that have been best for me have been the same places where I have been finding striped bass. If there is bait on the points the bass will be from the surface down to about 25 feet. They have been close to the shore all the way to the bottom, especially later in the day, but the times I am fishing they are out in the deep water suspended and feeding heavily on shad. There still has been some topwater action, but this activity is slowing down. Swimbaits, spinner baits and minnow shaped crank baits are all working.

Walleye are being caught just outside of the sunken buck brush or on the old shoreline roughly 20 to 25 feet down. Dragging a crawler harness with a small spinner is picking up some nice fish. Crappie are in the same area, but may move up into shallow water during the day. With our high water there is brush all over the shoreline so the challenge is locating the fish.

The current water depth has been dropping roughly 3 inches a day with constant power generation and is at 576.76’ MSL. The surface water temperature this morning was 83 degrees. The water is clear with a slight stain, which is typical this time of year with the warmer water.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Hope everyone has a happy and safe Independence Day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

It has been awhile since I posted a fishing report on this forum, but that doesn’t mean I have not been out on the lake. I just have not been able to get out as much as I normally do. But if you want to see what our guests or I have been catching, go to Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s facebook page and you will see more frequent reports and photos.

It took longer than normal, but Norfork Lake is warming up and the fish are just starting to enter into their summer pattern. This typically means that most species, especially striped bass start to go deep to reach cooler water. With the warmer water a thermocline will form, but I have not noticed one at this time, but it will start soon in roughly 20 feet of water and as the warm summer days progress, it will go deeper and deeper. Once a thermocline forms a lot of fish species will stay close to that level either a little above or a little below. The cold water starts just below the thermocline.

Striped bass fishing has been good. This has been one of the best years I have seen for top water action for stiped bass in many years. It is still occurring, but is slowly coming to an end. Zara Spooks, Flukes, Kastmasters and live bait with no weight have all been working. The best time for top water action is right as the sky starts getting a little bright, around 5:30 AM and it has been lasting for maybe an hour or until the sun comes up. I am finding stripers in the early morning on main lake points from 20 feet of water out to 100 feet of water. The fish at this time are on the surface to 10 feet deep. Once the sun gets above the tree line the stripers are going deeper. I have caught them anywhere from 40 feet down to 70 feet. It can be any depth, but typically I have been in 100+ feet of water. The stripers are tending to come shallow again right as it is getting dark. Main lake points have been the best areas for me.

Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass have been in the same areas as striped bass early in the morning. They are chasing shad on the surface and this bite typically has lasted longer than the top water striped bass bite. When the bass go down, work the shoreline out to 30 feet of water. Fish on points that have a lot of sunken brush on them. The bass seem to be hanging at the top of the sunken brush. Swimbaits, spinner baits, deeper diving crank baits are all working well. Most other plastics are also working, but try and make the baits weedless as you will need to fish on top of or inside of the brush.

Walleye are up in the sunken brush or near the old shoreline of 20 – 25 feet of water. Deep diving minnow style crank baits, such as a Berkley Flicker Minnow or Flicker Shad are working. They are scattered out so keep working the shoreline.  Crappie are also scattered out from the old shoreline up to near the new shoreline. Small grubs tipped with a crappie minnow have been picking up a few fish. There is a lot of brush under the water, so the crappie have lots of places to feed.

The current water depth has been fairly stable the last couple of days and is at 578.93’ MSL. The surface water temperature is in the upper 70’s to low 80’s.  The water is clear with a slight stain, which is typical this time of year with the warmer water.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Norfork Lake fishing has been pretty good. The best bites on the lake are for crappie, large & smallmouth bass, walleye and then striped bass. Hey wait, that is most species in the lake!! Yes, most species are biting and the best bite is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This is very typical for this time of year, sunrise and sunset are the best time to find active fish.

Two methods of fish are working the best for crappie. (1) Trolling Berkley Flicker Minnows size 7 and size 9. The size 7 get down to about 15 feet and the size 9 goes to about 20 feet. I troll with my trolling motor and travel about 1.2 mph. I fish in coves that have a lot of sunken brush piles. Somedays the fish are scattered out anywhere from 20 feet of

water out to 40 feet. (2) Vertical jigging a small spoon or a small grub with a jig head. Find brush in 25 to 35 feet of water and then locate the part of the brush pile the comes up in the water column the highest. I am finding crappie suspended 10 to 25 feet deep. Vertical jig for them or mark your spot with a float, then cast to this spot with a slip float and then slightly twitch the line to keep the grub moving slightly. You can also tip the grub with a live minnow to get more action.

Largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass are hanging around close to shore. With the high water there is a lot of sunken buckbrush 10 to 18 feed deep. The fish are hanging inside the brush. On windy days cast out a spinner bait and work it on top of the brush. You can also use grubs, worms or flukes and cast them to just outside the brush and let them sink to the bottom. I would think that a Ned Rig would work great at this time, just outside of the brush. Many times, when you lift the bait off the bottom there is a fish on. Right at sunrise and again at sunset there is topwater action for this species. Any topwater bait or a swimbait will work great.
Long shallow points, part way back into coves and also on the shallow side of the main lake are great places to try.

The walleye bite has been getting better for me. I have picked up some walleye when trolling my Flicker Minnows in 20 – 30 feet of water and also when I’m fishing close to the sunken buck brush on long shallow points. On these points I have been casting out a 6-inch swimbait and have been doing well for most species including Walleye. Once the bait starts to move onto the flats, bottom bouncers with nightcrawlers will start to work great. I have also done very well for walleye before sunrise, in the dark, using my swimbait in similar types of areas as long as there is bait in the area.

The bite for striped and hybrid bass has also been fairly good, but this bite has been inconsistent for me. One day I find the bait and the fish are nearby feeding, then the next day they are gone and I am out looking again. The cool weather frontal systems that we have been having weekly, affect this species the most. I also think the changing surface temperatures due to these frontal systems have a big role on striped bass feeding habits.  I have found stripers in 2 different parts of the lake, but very   There have been days when the fish move out to deep water, 50 to 70 feet of water, and suspend from the surface down to 20 or 30 feet. Live bait is working very well, but casting out swimbaits is working the best for me. Other days I find them close to the shore line, especially long shallow points that have lots of flooded buck brush. The bait moves into the buck brush to hide
and the fish follow. Pitching live bait with no weight into 10 to 20 feet of water then waiting for the pole to bend to the water before setting the hook is working, as well as, casting out swimbaits or shallow diving hard baits such as a suspending jerkbaits.  I have gotten into some good topwater action for stripers, but not on a daily basis. This action is typically when I find the fish and bait out in deeper water. That is not to say throwing out a Zara spook into shallow water will not call a fish up.

If you enjoy looking at Facebook, go to Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page and you will get frequent and most times daily fishing reports and daily catches. My Facebook page is a great place to check out the most current fishing information on Norfork Lake.

We had a big rain last evening and the lake is again on a slow rise. It came up 3.5 inches over night and the Corps. of Engineers has just reduced the out flow of water so expect the lake to come up a little more. The lake surface temperature has been hoovering around 60 to 62 degrees. The lake has cleared up nicely, but with last nights rains I would expect the backs of the creeks and coves will become slightly stained. Overall fishing has been good and with stable weather and water levels the bite will become outstanding.

Happy fishing and see you on the lake.