Norfork Lake's winter fishing pattern is slowly arriving. What I consider a winter pattern is when the bait starts moving into the deep water channels. Electronics are very helpful this time of year, as you start looking for bait in deep water and are watching for the fish (striped and hybrid bass) inside of the bait. One of my friends was fishing yesterday afternoon and found lots of bait and big schools of stripers. He ended up landing 8 stripers, the big one was 14 pounds. The view on his depth finder is attached on the right and he crossed over many schools of fish. Not to contradict myself, but during winter months the fish will also go very shallow to feed, typically early in the morning and after dark. In the winter you have plenty of options, but the easiest fish to find are the deep water fish.You will also find fish on the deeper flats in 40 - 60 feet of water early mornings and late in the afternoon, but typically in mid day you should concentrate on the deep channels. Areas to start looking for stripers are from the US62 bridge area down towards the 101Boat Dock area; back in the major creeks such as Float, Fall, Panther and Bennetts; and deep flats to check out are the Robinson flats, Cranfield, Mallard, AR101 Bridge and Big Sandy. I have mainly been vertical jigging with a spoon, but live shiners and shad are a great bait to use especially when you can not find schools of fish, but are just finding loners.The largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass bite is picking up. I am finding big fish off of bluff lines in 40 - 50 feet of water. This is very typical for this time of year. The fish will be on the bottom and on occasion you will find schooling bass. It is also the time of year you will need to start slowing down your presentation. As the water continues to cool the fish will slow down.
I am starting to find crappie back on the sunken brush piles. A couple of days ago I fished a brush pile outside of our cove and caught 5 crappie in about 30 minutes. They were not the huge slabs, but all keeper size. I am sure the big slabs are also in the brush, so if you are a crappie fisherman it is becoming time for the winter bite. I was fishing brush in 35 - 40 feet of water and the fish were towards the top of the brush.
The Norfork Lake level is falling slowly and currently sits at 549.9. The lake surface water temperature is hanging around 53 degrees. The main lake is relatively clear and the creeks and coves are still stained.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.