I can honestly say the fall bite is on. If you are looking to catch a lot of fish, with live or artificial bait, you need to come to Norfork Lake. If you need a place to stay at reasonable winter rates call 870-492-5113. Yes, the weather may be cool and sometimes rainy, but it is a great time to find active fish. Over the last week big schools of striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass are roaming the large flat areas in 30 - 50 feet of water. For the last 5 days the bite has been consistently good with a lot of fish being caught. I have been mainly vertical jigging with a spoon, bouncing the spoon off the bottom or when I see suspended fish reeling up to them and jigging in the school. There has been some top water action for stripers with a few fish surfacing while feeding on shad. When I see the fish come up I have been using two different lures. I cast out a 1/2 ounce Kastmaster and let it sink down to about 15 feet. I then retrieve with a stop and go motion, twitching the rod tip on occasion. I have also thrown a Zara spook and walk the dog back to the boat. Electronics are definitely helpful this time of year. You will need to graph an area until you find the fish then start fishing. They will continually move so you are searching a lot. There is also another natural fish finder and it is the seagulls. If you notice these birds diving into the water go close to where they are feeding and you will find feeding fish. This natural occurrence only happens in the fall and winter while the birds are here. They migrate away from our lake in the late winter or early spring. Trolling a 5 - 6 inch swim bait will also catch you some fish. Set your baits at different depths starting at around 20 feet and down to 50 feet. Adjust your depth to where you are seeing the fish and of course to the depth where you start catching fish. Live shiners, thread fin shad and gizzard shad are also working very well. The shiners will be the easiest as you can buy them at a local bait and tackle shop. You may be asking yourself where are these flats that Lou keeps mentioning, so here you go. In the mid lake area, then going up river: southeast of Robinson Island, northwest side of the 101 bridge, in front of Mallard Point, east side of Cranfield Island, Seward Point, in front of Briar Creek, East of Howard Cove going towards Talbert Point. There are definitely other areas down toward the dam, going farther up river, or back in the Bayou area but the listed flats are the ones I will be fishing until the fish go into their winter pattern. The other locations where stripers will be found are part way back into the major creeks. I have been having too much fun on the flats and have not had a chance to check them out, but typically they are there, especially with rising water.
Crappie have moved under my dock and have also moved onto the brush piles in 30 - 40 feet of water. These fish will be at different depths depending on the time of day. Live crappie minnows are working the best, but small jigs with a paddle tail or a twister tail are also doing well. I like to tip my jigs with a minnow for maximum presentation.
Bass are also moving into the brush as well as up to the banks. Jerk bait time is for the most part here, so start throwing those stick baits. Spinners are also producing fish, but best method is still working your plastics along the bottom slowly. The bass are active so keep changing your retrieval speeds until you find the one they like.
Norfork lake is rising slowly with the 2+ inches of rain we received over the last 3 days. The current level is 559.0. Sporadic power generation is occurring, but I expect a continuous generation to occur shortly to bring the lake back to normal pool of 553.8. The creeks and coves are stained with the main lake partly stained to clear depending on location. The surface water temperature this morning was 58 - 59 degrees.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.