Fishing on Norfork Lake continues the summertime pattern with no dramatic change over the last week. The water temperature is on the rise with the unseasonably warm air temperatures. The thermocline may have dropped a foot or two, but is still in the 25 foot range +/- a foot or two.
Striped bass fishing is still the best in the dam area. You can find many of the stripers 70 to 90 feet deep on the bottom or very close to it. I have noticed that they seem to have moved a little deeper since last week. I fished for striped bass last Sunday (8/18) and Monday (8/19) and caught a few and missed a few, but most were 80 to 90 feet down on the bottom. Live bait is working, but you will need to change out your baits often as they are not surviving long in this deep and cold water. Vertical jigging with a spoon is picking up a few fish and trolling with down riggers or a lot of in-line weight is also picking up some fish. I am hearing that the fishermen trolling swim baits or umbrella rigs are catching a few stripers suspended 40 feet down, but the fish that I am finding are mainly very deep.
Today (8/20) I headed toward the Cranfield area and upriver a short way and fished in 20 – 35 feet of water. I was vertical jigging a spoon, casting deeper diving crankbaits and slow trolling deep diving crankbaits. I caught crappie, bluegills and bass. Crappie have moved into brush that is in 25 – 30 feet of water. I started out vertical jigging a ¼ ounce spoon with light weight line. I was marking fish at the tops of the brush, about 15 feet down. I received no bites. I switch to my 1 ounce spoon and on my first drop it was hammered by a 10.5 inch crappie. I fished this brush with the 1 ounce spoon for about 30 minutes and landed 5 more in the 10 inch range. Why they liked the bigger bait over my normal go to size, I have no idea, but they were aggressive. I switched methods of fishing and started casting a deep diving crankbait over the tops of some brush where I was marking fish and landed a nice 12 crappie and a few bass. You can also troll with deep diving crankbaits in 18 – 30 feet of water and catch many different species of fish. You will need to have your bait reach around 15 to 20 feet deep. I have in the past added some big split shots about 6 feet or so from the bait to help it get deeper.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature is on the rise and was 87 degrees this morning. The lake is somewhat stained, but clearer in the main lake. The water depth continues to drop 2 – 3 inches per day due to the Corps of Engineers keeping the power generators on for part of the day. The current depth of Norfork Lake is 565.5 feet MSL.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.