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

Norfork Lake fishing is still in its summer time fishing pattern, but cooler nights are starting to slowly lower the water temperature. This summer has not been typical for some species in the lake especially striped bass. Typically, by this time of year the fish are in 80 feet of water and lying on the bottom. This year you can find striped bass cruising in the deep-water channels in the dam area and the fish are suspended 30 to 35 feet down. Trolling with down riggers, lead core line or snap weights have all been working very well to help get the bait down to the target depth of 30 – 35 feet. Swim baits, jigs with long trailers and crank baits have all been catching fish.

I have been mainly fishing for walleye for the last several weeks. Long main lake points have been holding walleye at 30 to 33 feet depths. I have been vertical jigging with a ½ ounce spoon starting around 5:30AM in the morning, then I switch to slow trolling Berkley Flicker Minnows. When you are vertical

jigging with the spoon you need to bounce the bait off the bottom. It seems that most of the fish have hit the spoon on the fall, or immediately as the spoon hits the bottom. Be ready to set your hook. My method of trolling is by using my trolling motor and traveling 1.2 to 1.4 mph. I cast my bait out about 50 feet from the boat, then I clip on a 1-ounce snap weight and let out another 50 feet of line. I use a #7 Berkley Flicker Minnow tied onto 8-pound test monofilament line. This method and bait is getting down to the 30 feet strike zone. Colors have varied for me depending on what the weather is like. On sunny days the white or the white & chartreuse lures have worked the best but on cloudy days a darker color, such as purple seems to work better. Walleye can be found all over the lake at this time as they do not migrate due to water temperature and oxygen levels like striped bass do.  Find long main lake points that have a deep side and a shallower side, especially if the shallower side leads into a large flat. In general, I have found a walleye on every point I troll, but some points seem to hold numerous fish while other points just a couple.

Bass fishing has been improving daily. I have been catching some big spotted bass while trolling for walleye with the Flicker Minnows. Over the last couple of days, I have been finding small schools of big largemouth bass in the same walleye areas, but they are in 34 feet of water. Vertical jigging with a spoon for these deeper largemouth is picking up a few really nice fish. This morning (9/14) I found one of these schools. I hooked into and lost 4 nice fish before I finally got one of them to the surface. It proceeded to jump clear out of the water next to the boat and shake off the hook. At least I found out what I was hooking into. 😉 I have also found largemouth pushing shad back against a bluff wall and feeding heavily. You will find largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass in shallow water early and late in the day. Crank baits, jig and pigs, spinners and chatter baits are all producing some nice fish along with working a worm along the bottom. A final area where I have found largemouth and spotted bass is out in deep water

chasing shad on top. What you will find is a group of fish feeding heavily on the surface for a very short time, then they go down and come up again 100 feet away. This bite seems to be happening mid to late morning. I went to an area where I found topwater action about 4 days ago and they were still there. I looked around saw an area where the fish seemed to be coming up more frequently. I sat and waited and the fish kept coming up. Most were smaller largemouth, but I did get to land a nice 4 pounder. I was throwing my silver Kastmaster with a feather trailer. I like this bait because I can cast it farther than any other bait that I have.

Crappie are moving back onto brush. I have not done a lot of crappie fishing, but I have checked out several big brush piles, back in creeks, as well as on main lake points. The fish have been suspended from 10 to 20 feet down over brush that is 30 feet deep.  I was jigging with a ½ ounce and a ¼ white spoon and both caught fish. Fish were all in the 10-inch range. The bigger slabs might still be roaming out in

their summer time rock ledge hideouts. It will not be long until the brush is full of big slabs. W need a little cooler water temperature.

The surface water temperature this morning was 82 degrees. The lake level is currently at 555.84 ft MSL and continues to fall slowly. Main lake is mostly clear and the creeks and coves are slightly stained.

For a frequent fishing update on Norfork Lake go to Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page.

Enjoy Norfork Lake and have a great time fishing.

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