Over the last couple of weeks, I have been concentrating my fishing habit on finding and catching striped and hybrid bass with a little bass fishing thrown in. The bite has been good for me. I’ve used several different fishing methods to catch this species. Live bait is the easiest and a very good way to catch striped bass. You can purchase large shiners, or you can try and net your own threadfin shad, but that is difficult at this time as they are deep. One of my favorite methods is vertical jigging a one-ounce spoon. My preferred color at this time is white. Another bait that I have been vertical
jigging is a 3-inch soft plastic spit tail bait, similar to a fluke with a 3/8-ounce jig head. This method is a little harder to fish due to the lightweight bait. It falls slowly and it’s hard to get to the fish in a timely fashion. I fished with a guide friend, Chad Bleeker of Norfork Bayou Fishing last week, and he showed me this method. It worked really well with using his Garmin Livescope. I have added this new electronic to my wish list. I also like to cast out a Kastmaster, blade style bait. I let the bait sink to the desired depth and slowly reel back to the boat in a jerking motion. The fish typically hit it on the fall. I use the Kastmaster when I see the fish on my sidescan and when they are shallower, say 20 to 30 feet deep. The final method that I
use is to troll a hard crankbait. I use the Berkley Flicker Minnow, sizes #7 and #9. I use the 50/50 rule with a one-ounce snap weight which will get the bait down to 30 feet. Use a 2-ounce weight if you want to get to about 40 feet. When I troll, I use my trolling motor and go about 1.4 mph. The key to catching these fish, once you find them, is to get your bait to the depth where the fish are.
I have been finding striped and hybrid bass in 2 types of areas. They have been out in deep water near the old river channel in 70 to 100+ feet of water. The second area has been on a large deep flat in 50 to 70 feet of water. The key clue for finding stripers is to find the bait fish. If you can find a large concentration of bait the stripers will typically be in the area. I have found bait and fish from the Cranfield area to the mid lake bridges, then from these bridges back
to the 101 Boat Dock area. The bait has been moving back and forth in this vast area and sometimes overnight. The stripers and hybrids have been suspended from 20 feet down to 60 feet and anywhere in between.
Largemouth bass fishing has also been very good. The fish I have been finding are out chasing shad along with the striped/hybrid bass. The Kastmaster has worked great for me as these fish seem to be only 20 to 30 feet down. The second and best area for me has been in 33 to 40 feet of water off of long rocky points. The points are usually at the end of a bluff line that leads into a cove. The outside edge of the point has been more productive for me than the inside. I use my 1-ounce spoon and jig it slowly on the bottom. Sometimes I leave it laying on the bottom briefly and it seems the bass suck it in at this point.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature is holding in the 45 – 46 degree range but may drop a little more with this incoming winter storm. The lake level is
holding fairly stable at this time with minimal power generation and currently sits at 552.61 ft. msl. The lake remains slightly stained.
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Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.