Norfork Lake fishing is starting to pick up for all species. It would even get better if Mother Nature would give us some consistently nice weather, but I guess we cannot control the weather. The water temperature is starting to rise again, but it is still 4 - 5 degrees colder than it was at this time last year, which was in the low 50's. Spring is on the way. The long range weather forecast looks great with warmer, dryer weather. Everything is looking up!
Crappie fishing is getting better. Some say the evening bite is the best, but the morning bite was fairly decent yesterday for me. I headed out to check some new water for striped bass. During my graphing exercise I would occasionally stop and fish nearby brush piles. I checked out some 45 - 50 feet deep brush, but found no fish and also checked out some 20 feet brush with no fish. The 30 to 35 feet deep brush piles appeared to be the best for me. The crappie that I found were buried inside of the brush towards the bottom. I caught some nice fish in the 11 - 13.5 inch range, along with a few short fish. All were released. I was jigging with a 1/4 ounce white with chartreuse back spoon. The bite was super light. Live bait would work well with a slip float or used with a small curly or paddle tail grub. Crappie have also started to move under my dock. One of our guests, between rain showers today, fished our dock with a small Kastmaster. He landed 3 nice crappie along with many short bass. As the water continues to warm the crappie will gradually move towards shallower brush piles. I mainly found my fish on main lake brush or brush at the mouths of coves.
Largemouth bass fishing has also been good. This time of year I have typically found nice bass in deep 40 - 50 feet of water, but that's not the case this year. The bass have moved up in shallow water and are being caught on crank baits and jerk baits. I was talking with Paul, the owner of Gerry's Quick Shop, about the bass bite. He is definitely in the know, as a lot of his shoppers are bass fishermen. Gerry's is one of the largest tackle shops in Mountain Home and is definitely a go to bait shop for many. The current color is red and the old standby of peanut butter and jelly. The green to clearer water is holding more of the bigger fish than the stained brown tinted water. Main lake shallow points have been a great area to fish as of late, especially if the deep water channel swings in close to the point. Once the water level stabilizes the backs of creeks will become the go to spots. As with other species, when the water warms the bass will become more active and start gearing up for their spring time spawn.
Striped bass, Hybrid bass and White bass fishing has also been good, but not consistent. I am finding these species on large flats in 27 - 60 feet of water. When I find them on a main lake flat they have been in the deeper water of 40 - 60 feet. They are typically suspended at all depths. When I head back to a major creek flat I am finding them in 27 - 35 feet of water and again they are at all depths. The water has typically been several degrees warmer back in the major creeks so the fish are shallower. I have been using live bait, either thread fin shad, gizzard shad or shiners and they are all working well. With live bait, I have a couple of down lines set around 30 feet and then a couple of free swimming baits with a small split shot. Vertical jigging with a spoon, one of my favorite methods of fishing, is also catching some nice fish. Trollers are picking up some nice fish trolling large swim baits or umbrella rigs. There are scattered striped bass throughout the lake and they are typically suspended down to the 50 foot level. The whites are in the process of spawning or have finished up the process. Once they complete the spawn they will move out into the main lake assuming the warming trend continues.
Norfork Lake level is falling fairly rapidly as the Corps has opened some of the spillway gates to evacuate the excess water. The lake level currently sits at 556.93, which is less than 4 feet above normal seasonal pool. The lake surface water temperature has been in the mid to upper 40's. Some of the creeks and coves are stained and the main lake is starting to clear. The lake is in great shape and fishing is a lot of fun.
Don't forget that Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's Facebook page has daily fishing updates on current catches by our guests and me.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.