Norfork Lake Fishing Report by Lou of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort 870-492-5113

Norfork Lake is trying to cool off and by each degree drop the fish become more active. I am really looking forward to a little cooler air temperature, as well as, water temperature, which will bring on the fall fishing season. It appears that Norfork Lake is trying to transition and the thermocline, or at least the good oxygenated water is starting to drop. The good water has dropped to below 40 feet and the fish are already making this deeper water their home in the slightly cooler water. I have caught walleye, bass and catfish in 40 feet of water over the last week. Live thread fin shad is surviving at this water depth, if you are a live bait fisherperson.

I have switched to targeting crappie over the last week instead of walleye which I had been targeting since mid-August. The crappie bite has been excellent most days, on brush piles anywhere from 24 feet to 35 feet deep. The best areas I have found are on the main lake and not back in the creeks. The best brush comes up to 15 to 20 feet and the fish I have found are anywhere from 10 feet down to 25 feet deep over and in the

brush. I have mainly been using a small ¼ ounce spoon and vertical jigging it up and down over the
brush. I continually change how I am jigging from slow twitches, to quick jerks or a slow 5-foot raise and then letting the jig flutter down again. The slow twitches have worked the best, but most of my fish are sucking in the spoon as it falls slowly. Watch for slack line on the fall, you will more than likely have a fish and you need to set the hook quickly. I have had 2 excellent days of crappie fishing over the last 3 days. Yesterday (9/28) I could not beg a crappie bite, but the spotted bass bite made up for it. Today (9/29) was outstanding. I landed over 2 limits of keeper size fish. The crappie size that I have been landing have mainly been in the 10 to 11 inch range with very few short fish. I did land a nice 14 ¾  and 13 inch crappie this morning. Hopefully this means the big slabs are finally starting to move into the brush. I have been catching and releasing with only keeping the fish that get gut hooked or the treble hook has damaged their gills. These fish will not swim away, so it’s fish
sandwiches for lunch. Live bait is also working very well. Set your bait at about 15 to 20 feet and drift slowly over the brush. A little split shot should be used about 2 or 3 feet above the bait. If you like using a bobber, first mark the brush pile with a floating marker attached to a heavy weight. Cast your bobber (using a slip float is the best) over the brush and wait for the float to disappear.

Walleye fishing is still very good. I had been catching walleye in 30 to 32 feet of water, but when the oxygen level dropped down to 40 feet the walleye migrated to that depth. I was fishing on large rounded points that tended to have a large flat on one side of the point. I was using 2 methods of fishing to catch this species. I was vertical jigging a ½ ounce spoon touching the bottom each time I jigged the spoon up. I used this method in the dark until sunrise. At sunrise, I switched to slow trolling with my trolling motor using size #7 Berkley Flicker Minnows. To get my bait down to 30 feet I added a 1 ounce weight 50 feet from the bait

then let out another 50 feet of line. To get my bait down to 40 feet I had to add a 2 ounce weight. White colors were working the best as of late. I try to keep my speed at 1.2 to 1.4 MPH. I suspect the walleye bite will be the same until the lake turnover. Once the lake turnover happens, the fish will move to all depths, while still keying in on their food source. Find the bait you will find the fish.

The bass bite continues to be very good. The best places I have found have a lot of bait in the area. The largemouth bass have been feeding up

tight to the shore line (I mean tight) and then move back in to 15 to 20 feet of water when the sun gets high in the sky. I have also found a few nice sized largemouth hugging the bottom out in 32 to 40 feet of water. These fish are still relating to the colder water as their coloration is a light green, but the shallower fish are a dark green. The spotted bass are relating to brush piles or areas that have bait in 28 to 32 feet of water. Yesterday when the crappie did not want to bite, I found schools of spots feeding on the bottom. I must have vertical jigged up 20 spots in the 12 to 14 inch range with a ½ ounce spoon. It was a blast. Largemouth are coming up for poppers and shallow running crank baits early in the morning. Deeper diving crank baits are working when the fish go a little deeper. Windy days go to the wind-blown banks and throw spinners or chatter baits.

The catfish bite has also been fairly good. You will find then on the bottom in or near brush, as well as out in deeper water chase bait fish. I have caught some nice size cats vertical jigging with a spoon, as well as on the Berkley Flicker Minnows while I have been trolling for walleye or fishing for crappie. Live bait is always a good choice in these types of areas.

I have not started to look for striped bass since they scattered to the 4 winds mid-September. You will start to find this species partway back in the major creeks early in the morning especially if we get some more cold early morning temps. Stripers will be feeding in shallow water in the early mornings back in the creeks. As the day wears on they tend to move out to deeper cooler water. This is very normal for this time of year until the lake totally turnovers with the water temperature being more constant in the 70 or less degree range.

The surface lake temperature is ranging from 78 to 81 degrees depending on time of day. The lake level is slowly dropping and currently sits at 553.85 feet msl. The main lake is clear to slightly stained and the creeks and coves are slightly stained.

If you are looking for a daily fishing activity report, go the Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page. I post almost daily what is being caught on the lake either by me or some of my guests.

Happy fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake  

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