Norfork Lake fishing has been an interesting experience this winter. A typical winter pattern for striped bass never materialized. Normal in the past has been: bait goes to the deep-water river channel in the main lake and suspends 40 to 60 feet down and striped bass hide out within the bait and get active when they get hungry. It appeared that the normal pattern was starting to happen around the beginning of January, but then the lake level changed abruptly and affected the bait. The quick rise in the water level moved a lot of the bait into the creeks closer to the flowing water. I have mainly been fishing from the 3 mid lake creeks north to the Bennetts Bayou area and anywhere in between. I have fished the three mid-lake major creeks and have found bait in at least one of the creeks, if not all. Typically, I have found fish on the bait, but not all the time. Bennetts Bayou area is another major creek where I have fished for striped bass and again can typically find a lot of bait and sometime fish will be in the area. Yesterday (2/11) I found some nice hybrids feeding in 30 feet of water along a shallow sloping bank. During this past weekend I did have several days that I found scattered bait with lots of scattered stripers in one of my normal deep-water main lake winter haunts. The fish were suspended 5 to 20 feet deep feeding on small schools of shad in 100+ feet of water. The water in this area is still a little on the brownish side. I have been using 3 different methods of fishing over the last week or so. Live bait has worked well at times for both the shallow fish, as well as, the deeper fish. I have also been trolling a Rapala deep diving crank bait, especial when the fish are higher in the water column. When you find th method, which is to vertical jig with a spoon, but this method has not produced well for me lately, even though this is typically a go to method of fishing for me at this time of year.
With the quick six-foot rise in the water level there was a lot of mud drawn into the lake. The northern part of the lake is still a little brown, but it’s finally starting to fall out. This mud line has also affected the bait. I am not sure of the technical reasoning behind it, but the bait that I find in the muddy water stays very high in the water column. I find the majority of the bait, as well as the fish, from surface down to about 20 feet or maybe 30 feet at the most. This isn’t to say you will not find a few fish deeper at times. When I am fishing in the mid-lake creeks where the water is much clearer, the majority of the bait will be 40 – 60 deep and the fish will be in the same depths.
I have not fished for bass or crappie over the past several weeks so not much to report. What I have noticed on bass is that when I get close to a deep-water bluff line, I mark many bass suspended down 20 – 40 feet I have had several reports from friends that are crappie fishing and they are catching some nice fish. The crappie are still on 30 – 40 feet deep brush that come up to at least 20 feet. The crappie have been suspended on the tops of the brush pile.
If you want more frequent fishing information on Norfork Lake, follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook. Spring is quickly approaching, which is a prime time to fish our lake for all species. I am definitely looking forward to this time of year as all species go to shallower water and become really aggressive.
Norfork Lake level is starting to fall slowly with increased power generation and currently sits at 558.54 ft MSL. There is rainfall in the forecast for Wednesday (2/12) which may change the level slightly. This level is roughly 5 feet above normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 46 to 47 degrees. The main lake from the 62 bridge then north of bridge is brown to heavily stained. South of the 62 bridge the water becomes much clearer, in both the main lake and the creeks. I have not been north of Cranfield, but I have heard the Red Bank area is starting to clear somewhat.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.