Norfork Lake fishing has been good for most species over the last week. The weather has been fairly stable with cool mornings and warmer afternoons, but the lake level changes has affected the fish most, in my opinion. The Corps of Engineers has open...
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Winter fishing on Norfork Lake for striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass had been fantastic this year, up until a few weeks ago. Around the first of February the baitfish started to move out of their winter pattern and so did the predators. I fished several days last week and found fish on large flats in 30 – 50 ft of water on the bottom and nothing in the deep water channels. I found big schools of roaming hybrids and whites. If I was lucky enough to get over a school of fish I had fun. There were a few striped bass mixed in with the hybrids. This movement of the fish is typical for this time of year, but may have occurred a little earlier than normal. Unless this current cold front changes things, what you can expect to happen over the next 4 weeks or so is that stripers will start to migrate back into the creeks. As the water warms they will continue to move farther back in the creeks. Typically at the end of February and beginning of March, I will find stripers in the Cranfield and Fouts areas at my end of the lake. They will also be up in the Red Bank and Calamity areas this time of year. They will be feeding on bait along the bluff lines. The night bite for the stripers will start around mid March as the water temp warms to 50 degrees or so. You need to start getting your stick baits ready for the slow roll night bite, it is a blast.
Black bass have also changed their patterns a little. You will still find some nice fish on the bottom in 50 feet of water, but I have caught a few big ones suspended at 20 feet over 30 – 40 feet of water along bluff lines. Throwing an Alabama rig for these suspended fish is working well. For the bottom feeders, pig & jigs or worms are a good choice. As the water starts to warm these fish will start to move up into shallower water.
Walleye are staging for their spawn. They can be found along the side of channels off of rocky points in 30 – 50 feet of water. They will move back into creeks and coves as the water warms a little more. The Calamity area and into Missouri waters is one of the favorite spawning ground for walleye in February. Dragging crawler harnesses or live shad are great baits. Sinking stick baits are a good choice for artificial bait. The night bite will also bring out the walleye fishermen. After their spawn, they will be on shallow points at dusk and after dark.
Crappie are both scattered and on deep brush piles. The scattered fish will be following bait so if you can find a good concentrations of bait, especially around docks, the crappie won’t be far behind. I have been asked numerous times when will the crappie spawn? The rule of thumb for the crappie spawn, is when the Dogwoods just start to bloom the crappie will be up on the banks spawning. In our area this typically happens toward the end of March to the beginning April all depending on Mother Nature.
The Norfork Lake level has fallen to 548.92, but currently is stable as power generation is just keeping up with the rise. The lake should continue to drop as the Corps prepares the lake for the spring rains. The water temperature was at 45 degrees, but I would suspect it to lower a few degrees due to the snow and cold rains we received last evening. The main lake was clear and the creeks are clearing.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.