Norfork Lake fishing has been good, but different from prior fall seasons. Fish are located pretty much in the same areas as prior years, but they are much more scattered rather than schooled up in tight schools of feeding fish. When I find a school of fish they are located at all depths and not bunched up. This is not a bad thing, but does make me change my fishing tactics a bit.
Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass are being found in several different types of areas. They are located on the flats and the striped bass are also scattered in deeper water back in the major creeks. I typically start out in the morning at sunrise and start checking out the flats near our resort, Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. I first check out the Mallard Point flat, I may go to the Cranfield Island flat, then head to the 101 bridge flat and if needed I motor over to Big Sandy flat a little past 101 Boat Dock. I am looking at depths from 25 feet of water out to 45 feet of water. What I have found the last couple of days is that the fish are in 25 - 30 feet of water at sunrise and seem to stick around for an hour or two. As the morning wears on they move out to deeper water and yesterday (12/11) at around 11AM I found them in 42 feet of water. I have caught big hybrids and big whites on the flats, but the stripers that I have caught on the flats have been small. The bigger stripers will move to the flats very soon. The last couple of days I fished the 6B area and landed a really nice striped bass on live bait, but yesterday (12/11) I fished the same area and the bait and fish had disappeared. I believe the 53 degree water has gotten a little too cool for the shad so they are migrating out to deeper water, and the stripers are following. I marked lots of shad and many striped bass in front of Fouts marina as I was heading back to the Big Sandy area. The stripers are scattered throughout the area making them tough to catch with a spoon. Trolling or casting A-Rigs or swim baits may be the easiest method to pick up these scattered fish and as always live bait will work wonders, but you will need to keep moving around until you come across the fish that want to eat. The stripers that I have found in deeper water are still suspended from 15 feet of water down to 40 feet of water and typically near bait. You will run across that big school of fish so when you do, vertical jigging a spoon will work great. I have not been up to the Red Bank area, but I would think the fish that have been up in the Missouri waters are also migrating somewhat south to a slightly higher water temperature.
Largemouth bass fishing has been a little tough, but you can pick up some really nice fish in deeper water. For about the first hour as the sun is rising there are many bass up in shallow water. Many of the bass are small, but you will pick up the occasional nice sized fish. Shallow diving crank baits, jerk baits and topwater baits are picking up a few fish. As the sun rises the fish are going a little deeper. Start casting out a jig and pig in 15 - 25 feet of water along bluff line points and in areas where the channel is swinging in close to shore. Another good location is close to sunken brush. I was striper fishing with live bait the other morning and also jigging a spoon. I got into about 25 feet of water and started to pick up a few largemouth off of the bottom. On those windy days go to the wind blown banks and try casting a spinner bait.Windy days are always a great time to pick up some really nice fish.
Norfork Lake level is dropping slowly with some power generation going on and currently sits at 550.68. The lake surface water temperature is dropping slowly. It ranges from 55.5 degrees on the main lake to 53 degrees back in the major creeks. The water is clearing slightly on the main lake with maybe 5 - 6 feet of visibility to stained in the creeks and coves.
Happy fishing and see you on the lake.