Big lakes displaying boost in bite this fall
Norfork, Greers Ferry are hot as weather cools
Arkansas Wildlife Editor Reports from Norfork Lake in north Arkansas and Greers Ferry Lake in northcentral Arkansas were exciting this week, to say the least. Lou Gabric from Hummingbird Hideway Resort on Norfork Lake sent us the photo (top, right) of Joe Cebula from Kansas, who found himself in a mess of hungry crappie. Lou says Norfork is 'getting better and better' with the improving weather.
'September fishing can have its challenges due to changing water temperatures, changing lake levels and frontal systems, but all species are biting,' Lou said. Striper fishing has really improved over the last week.
Guide Tommy Cauley, our regular reporter from Greers Ferry Lake, couldn't get over what he was seeing on his electronics this week — he even sent us a photo (below, right) of it showing fish all around his boat. It included black bass, white bass and hybrids all mixed together feeding (the red line is the bottom of the lake). Two of his customers, Ed Garrett and friend Rick from Memphis, showed off two of their white bass catch (next page). Tommy says Greers Ferry fishing is also 'getting better every day.'
The weather systems in the last couple of weeks had fish in a funk, he added, but 'they're slowing coming out of it.'
Lots of good reports
throughout the state this week. For a sneak peek, check out Lou's and Tommy's full reports in the reports below:
As of Saturday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 561.00 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).
Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the bite for all species on Norfork Lake is getting better and better.
September fishing can have its challenges due to the changing water temperatures, changing lake levels, and frontal systems, but all species are biting. “Not necessarily every day,” he says, “but I believe they call that fishing. The striped bass bite is getting pretty good. Crappie are moving back to the brush, so at least you know where to find them. The walleye bite has been good, but it does take some work to locate them. The bass bite is almost always good whether you like to catch them in shallow or in deep water.”
He says striped Bass fishing has really improved over the last week in vari-
Continued on Page 9 BIG BITES (cont.)
ous parts of the lake. “I have found two different patterns for this species, but time of the day may have something to do with it. Early in the morning, occasionally starting before sunrise, I have found stripers on large flats feeding heavily on shad. They can be anywhere from 20 feet of water out to 40 feet towards the bottom. They are starting to school and when you find that large school of fish it is a fantastic bite. Other times the fish are scattered out and it takes a little bit more effort to catch them. The early morning bite seems to last no later than 8 a.m. or so.
This morning after the bite slowed on the flat where I was fishing, I decided to check out a different type of area for the striped bass.
I have caught fish out in deep water along a bluff wall in past years, and this year appears to be the same. I was in 120-150 feet of water and the fish were suspended down 35-40 feet deep. I found a large school of feeding fish once in this area, but most of the time I was marking one to three fish at a time.”
“I have been using several different methods to catch striped bass. I have been slow trolling a Berkley Flicker Minnow, size 7 and 9, with a 1-ounce snap on weight about 50 feet behind the bait with another 50 feet of line out. (This method is mainly for the flats.) I am also starting to vertical jig with a æ-ounce spoon more often than I troll. I have jigged up stripers in both of these areas. The hardest part about fishing for suspended fish with a spoon is getting it down to the right depth.
If you have a fish finder than picks your spoon up, this makes it simple, but if it does not, you need to either count down your bait, my rod and bait takes 8 seconds to get down to 40 feet, or drop it to the bottom and count the cranks up until you get to the desired depth. The stripers will continue to move around and as the water cools and the lake turns over the fish will be in many different types of area.”
“Crappie fishing has been good, but has had its ups and downs, I believe due to the various frontal systems that has gone through our area. The best areas have been brush piles that are in 20-30 feet of water. The fish will either be suspended on the top of the brush or buried inside of it. Small jigging spoons or small plastics with a twister tail or a paddle tail are working great. Live minnows either on their own or tipped on a plastic jig will also work well. I have found crappie on both main lake brush, as well as, brush back in a creek.”
“Walleye fishing has slowed a little, but we are still picking up some nice ones, along with a lot of shorts. Early in the morning and prior to sunrise they are being caught on long rocky points that jet out into the lake. They have typically been on the sides anywhere from 16 feet deep, down to 32 feet deep. During the day and late afternoon, they seem to be in 25-34 feet of water.
Crawler harnesses with a bottom bouncer or trolling with a minnow style crankbaits are both working. Drop-shot rigs should also work with either a nightcrawler or large minnow. As the water cools, they will move up tight onto the shoreline and casting for them will start to work better, especially early and late in the day.”
“Bass fishing has been good and they are being found in many different areas. Casting topwater baits, spinners and buzzbaits are working for the very shallow fish, especially
There will be many shorts in shallow water, but there will also be a few lunkers.
Jigs and worms are also working along the bluffs and out in 15-30 feet of water. Vertical-jigging spoons will pick up some nice fish. Work the deeper water, as well as, jigging near or on brush. Several days ago, I was trolling my Flicker Minnow out in 80 feet of water and picked up some really nice largemouth that were suspend down 25 feet. Bass are on main lake points, as well as, back in the creeks.”
Norfork Lake level is falling and currently sits at 561.18 feet msl. The lake surface temperature Tuesday morning was in the high 70s, Lou said. The main lake and creeks are stained but should start to clear as the lake continues to cool. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”
John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 18.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are dropping at an increased rate and wadable water could be weeks away.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during from flooding over the last two years. There has been major gravel recruitment at BIG BITE (cont.)
the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive.
Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective.
Try an egg pattern 18 inches below a cerise San Juan worm. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. With school starting expect less pressure during the week, but there is pressure on weekends. You should fish early or late to avoid the crowds. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms are still closed.
The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
Tommy Cauley of Fishfinder Guide Service (501-940-1318) said the water level at Greers Ferry Lake is at 460.70 feet msl and falling with generation.
It is 1.84 feet below normal pool of 462.54 feet msl.
“Pictures of feeding fish you can see if you have your electronics set up right – a great learning concept, this is cat’s meow when and if you see or can find this. It’s a mix of hybrid bass, white bass, black bass and crappie, all eating, and at this point you can just about make bet you can catch on anything you drop out of small circle of baits,” he said.
The overall catching is getting better every day. He says all species have been in a sort of funk with the prevailing east and northeast winds and changing pressure, but they are slowly coming out of it and its getting better every day.
Crappie are eating jigs, crankbaits and minnows all over the water column 12-30 feet. No report on walleye. Bream are still very active and can be caught with crickets, worms, inline spinners and cranks from super shallow out to 20 feet. Catfish are eating on and off day and night on a variety of baits on jugs and trotlines, with bream for bait doing better overall.
Black bass are eating, roaming some and schooling by their selves and with other fish as well. Structure fish can be caught from 25-60 feet, and can be caught dragging something.
Topwater bite is good and getting better. Schooling fish are good and getting better, they could come up anywhere; lots of good fish. Hybrid bass and white bass are really starting to chew if you are in the right place at the right time; if not, wait them out as they will feed three or four times a day at least. Use inline spinners, Largo Muskie baits, spoons, swimbaits or live bait in 39-60 feet. Fish close to deep water, just stay with the shad.
Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood says the water is a little low and clear. Bass are good on a drop-shot in 20 feet of water on main lake points.
Also, they’re biting topwaters, Zara Spooks and Whopper Ploppers.
Walleye are being caught drop-shotting and with nightcrawlers on the main lake points in 15-20 feet of water.