Happy New Year to all. I hope the fantastic weather we have been having is allowing you to get out on the lake and do a little fishing. Norfork Lake is one of the best lakes I have had the opportunity to fish and I enjoy it most every day. Even though I have been out of pocket for the last couple of weeks I am back out on the lake finding and catching fish. Yesterday (1/7) was my first day out on the lake for 2019 and I spent the day traveling to different parts of the lake, doing a lot of graphing and looking for striped bass with very little fishing. Today was a different story. I retraced my travels from yesterday to the spots where I found fish. My first area at about 8AM was the Cranfield and Pigeon Creek area. I found bait and fish, but very few takers. I fished this area for about an hour with little luck then headed to a mid-lake creek that the wind was blowing into. Again I found scattered bait with fish following, and this time they were feeding. The fish were 40 to 60 feet down. The hybrids and whites were in the 40 - 50 foot range and the deeper fish were stripers. I was vertical jigging with a spoon and caught many big whites, a hybrid and 2 striped bass. I was jigging for the suspended fish 60 feet down and a small school of big fish came under me on the bottom at 80 feet so I dropped my spoon to the bottom. The spoon did not have a chance to hit the bottom as a striper just inhaled the spoon and the fight was on. The fish in this area were scattered though out the deeper water so I had to keep moving around until I located them. I finally decided to move to my next location and was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of active fish. I was in between the two bridges in 90 to 100 feet of water. This time I found schools of fish only 20 to 40 down, but lots of them. They would not hit my spoon jigging, but when I dropped it though the fish and reeled up fast though them they hammered it before the spoon got to the surface. One of the striped bass caught here hit the spoon almost on the surface then took a straight down dive to about 60 feet before I could turn its head. It ended up being a nice 14 pound fish. I ended up catching fish all the way up to 2PM, when I decided it was time to go home, but the fish were still there.
Winter time fishing can be a blast. The fish, as you have read, can be at any depth from surface all the way down to the bottom, located in very deep water. I did have a couple of live baits out part of the time and never got a bite on them, but they liked my spoon. Each place that I fished today are typical winter time locations based on prior years experience. It does take some time to locate the fish, but when you do, hang on. I still only use 8 pound test monofilament line so I do have my drag set a little loose. What is a little different this year, so far, is that the fish and bait typically move into the deep channels, but I am finding them near the channel or on very deep flats, but not in the channel.
Nothing to report on other species at this time as I am just getting back into the groove. But winter time bass and crappie fishing are both typically very good and lots of fun.
Norfork Lake has risen about 3 feet since my last report and currently sits at 556.34, which is less than 3 feet over the normal seasonal pool. The main lake is clear. Some coves and back in the creeks are stained. The water temperature this morning at 7:30 AM was 48 degrees and by the time I headed back to the dock it was slightly over 49 degrees. The lake is in great shape and the fishing is looking to be a lot of fun.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.