The bite for crappie is very good at this time. Some of the fish were spawning, then we had a cold front roll through last weekend which dropped the lake temperature 4 degrees. With the rainfall the lake has risen about 2.5 feet since my last report. Needless to say, this pushed the crappie off of the banks to their staging areas. Even with all the change, it did not hamper the bite for crappie. At this time one of the best methods of fishing for this species is by trolling small #7 crankbaits. The Flicker Minnow or the Flicker Shad has been working great for me and all of my guests. A darker color, such as, slick firetiger works the best early in the morning before the sun hits the water or on cloudy days. Once the sun gets over the tree line a lighter color, such as, slick pearl silver has been working. Large schools are roaming in 20 to 30 feet of water off of drop-offs or near sunken brush. The crappie are suspended 10 - 30 feet down. Live bait or small jigs should work great once you locate the fish. Some of the best areas are still back in the smaller creeks and coves, but with the weather changes some nice fish have moved out to the mouths of these creeks and coves, especially if there is brush in the area.
The largemouth bass bite continues to be strong. This species has proceeded with their spawn, even with the weather and water level changes. You will still find bedding fish close to the banks and others cruising the shoreline. At sunrise you will find some nice fish up in the sunken buck brush or just to the outside edged of the brush. Plastic jerk baits, such as Flukes and Bass Assassins, as well as, hard jerkbaits are working well inside the sunken brush. Topwater lures are also calling up fish that are in the shallow water. Plastics such as, centipedes, crawdads and worms are also starting to work and are picking up some nice fish. Work your baits slowly on the bottom from the shoreline brush out to about 20 feet of water. Cranbaits are still working at this time. There has been the start of good bass topwater action at sunrise then again at sunset. The topwater bite will only improve with a slow rise in water temperature.
Walleye are finally starting to show up back in the creeks and coves. Various fishing methods have caught this species. A-rigs, trolling a Flicker Shad, vertical jigging a spoon and casting a stickbait up to the shoreline are a few of the methods that are catching fish. The walleye are scattered out, but if you find an area holding bait, you can be assured that there will be walleye in the area.
Catfish are also doing their springtime spawn duties. Jug lines and trot lines are catching some nice fish in shallow water up to around 30 feet down. I have jigged up a few flatheads in 20 feet of water. Live bait, shiners, bluegill and nightcrawlers are all working well.
Striped bass fishing has been the species that has given me the hardest time. I have found the fish, but typically they have been very scattered. I have not found an artificial bait that they want but I'll keep trying until I figure it out! There has been two good methods to catching striped bass at this time. Trolling umbrella rigs has produced some really nice fish for some of my guests over the last week. They troll around 2.5 mph with a 2 oz. umbrella which are baited with 1 ounce hyper striper jig heads. All big baits. The other method has been free swimming live bait using bigger gizzard shad. This species still appears to be back in the creeks with the warmer water. As the lake continues to warm the bait will move out to the main lake points and the striped bass will follow. This will happen soon. I have seen sporadic topwater feeding for striped bass, but this will also increase very shortly. Typically this starts to occur around the same time the shad spawn, which again should be happening shortly.
Norfork Lake water level is slowly rising with minimal power generation and currently sits at 557.25 MSL, which is 3.5 feet about normal seasonal pool. The lake surface water temperature has risen to around 62 degrees in the mornings and is higher during the afternoon hours. The main lake is clear and some of the creeks and coves are stained up a little with the rise in water level.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.