March 2020 Fishing forecast

March on Norfork Lake is a great time for spring fishing. Here in the Ozarks our spring begins with the southerly winds which arrive in late February. The water warms fast and the stripers, crappie, bass and walleye all start their spawning migration. Once the water stays in the fifties the shad will move into the creeks to begin their spawn which triggers the fish to move up from the deep water and start heavy spring feeding. The major creek arms on Norfork are Pigeon, Bennett’s Bayou, Big Creek, and Brushy Creek. Float and Panther Creek will hold fish but they are short and the fish move in and out too fast to stay consistent. The major fishing patterns for Norfork are:
Stripers: I present the gizzard and threadfin shad using long lines with no weight, planner boards, and floats. Most of the lines will have no weight or just a split shot. I look for the most stained water in 30’ or less. This water will be the warmest and probably blowing to the north shores as the southern winds will warm that water faster. The great thing about March fishing is you can catch stripers every part of the day and night. The night bite begins again when the south winds warm the north shores. The main lures are Smithwick Rouges that are thrown parallel to the bank and reeled very slowly. The best bite is the first 3 hours after dark. Some of the biggest fish of the spring is caught at night.
Crappie: The crappie are in the final stage of their pre-spawn. Large schools are roaming the main channel and flats and in all the major creek arms. Depending on how fast the lake warms you can expect to catch crappies in stained shallow water and on the flats. The best technique is spider rigging, slow trolling with minnows and jigs. If the bite is slow move up to the stained shallows and probe the brush piles. Remember to look for the stain water with brush you will catch the most crappies there if they have moved off the flat.
Bass: March is one of my favorite times of year for bass. They are moving up to feed before their spawning cycle and can be caught on many different types of baits. My personal preference are spinner baits either chartreuse and white during the day or if its low light a black skirt with 1” or 3” black curly tail. Really if you’re into bass fishing you will be able to catch bass on any presentation. Look for the warmest stain water or find a creek arm where the wind has been pounding the shore you will find bass ready to take your lure.
Walleye: The walleye will be in their full spawning cycle in March. The best place to catch them using live bait is from Calamity Beach to the U.S.160 bridge. They will move into the shallows to spawn and slide back to the holes during the day. There are long stain water flats which hold the fish plus some deep holes from Bryant Creek up to the Udall boat ramp. The best bait is night crawlers on worm harnesses slow trolled using your trolling motor. Another great method is night fishing using rogues. You may catch a striper but if you target the pea gravel banks you should zero in on the walleye. Remember to reel slowly and keep changing your colors until you can find what they want.
March can be a fun month to catch fish but you should be prepared to have lots of wind, rain and cold weather mixed in with those sunny days. Tom & Sean Reynolds fish Lake Norfork and they guide out of Tracy Ferry Marina; you can reach him at www.stroutfitters.com, 870-421-1541 or on Facebook.

Lake Norfork fishing forecast for November 2019

 

In November Norfork Lake area is the sportsperson paradise month. Fall fishing is at its peak, modern gun deer season opens, and the famous Arkansas duck season opens. You can hunt in the morning and catch stripers, bass, and crappie during the rest of the day. It does not get any better than that! Deer season opens the second weekend of November, ending the first Sunday of December. Duck season opens the weekend before Thanksgiving and closes the third Sunday in January. Stripers are in their fall feeding frenzy along with the bass and crappie. Just pick your sport and Arkansas’ Norfork Lake has something for you. We also have a 3 day muzzle loader in mid-December and a 3 day modern gun hunt right after Christmas. In all you have many opportunities to harvest a deer. Combine the hunting with some great striper fishing and you have a perfect Cast & Blast opportunity. Our Cast & Blast packages starts in November thorough March 31st. The package includes 5 day 4 night lodging, 2 8 hr striper fishing days and a guided pheasant hunt that includes: guide, transportation, 8 pheasants per person, & processing. The total price for the package is $750 per person.
Stripers are in need of fating up after the August and September low oxygen months where they do not eat much. The stripers will be all over the lake after the fall turnover. The best places are the 101 Area, Big Creek near Hand Cove, Robinson Point and near or above the Arkansas/Missouri boarder. The colder the water the more active the stripers will be. Look for stripers in shallow water 30’ and keep moving out deeper until you find them on or near the bottom. The maximum depth should be no more than 50 feet. Find the cooler water with shad and stripers will be feeding heavy. Small to mid-size gizzard shad and threadfin shad is the best live bait followed by shiners. Spoons and swim baits will also catch a lot of stripers. Match the size of bait to have the best results. You may also see some great topwater action so always have a topwater bait on a rod.
Our presentation varies but it’s usually planner boards, floats, and some downlines. Our normal bait will be 3 to 6 inch gizzard shad. Most times we will have out 10 rods that covers a very wide spread. The next best way to catch the fall stripers is trolling a swim bait or crankbait. 3” swim baits and 7” crankbaits would the best. Since it’s shallow you can run long lines you do not need downriggers. Planner boards also work well trolling. As the weather cools the stripers will move up most major creeks and will also be on Robinson Point. You can catch them using the same method I described above.
The bass will start feeding heavy, with lots of top water action. Early morning top water, then jigs, worms and spinner baits later in the day are your best baits. There is also great night fishing throwing jigs, worms, and black or red 3/8 oz spinner baits. You can catch fish all over the main lake and creeks.
The fall crappie bite should be at its peak as the fish move up and also be feeding heavy. Spider rigging is the most effective technique to catch them. You will see lots of action in Brushy Creek and Big Creek on the south end of the lake, and Bennett’s Bayou, Red Bank, Calamity Beach, Pigeon Creek on the north end.
Regardless of your outdoor passion, the fall scenery displayed by Norfork Lake is fabulous. There is no better time to view the Arkansas hardwoods exploding with vivid colors. The lake gives you a never ending fall treat as you motor from hot spot to hot spot.
Tom & Sean Reynolds have fished Lake Norfork for over 51 years and they guide out of Tracy Ferry Marina; you can reach him at www.stroutfitters.com, 870-421-1541 or on Facebook.

Fishing report ending Oct. 26, 2019

This pass week saw some cooler temperatures and with that cooler water temperature. I fished up in Missouri and caught some stripers but the major amount of fish being caught by us is by the Calamity Boat ram. There are big schools of stripers moving up and down from above Pt 10 down to Pt 9.They. have been in water depths from 28′ to 35′ and the bite is very aggressive. I took a party out Saturday morning and we started fishing in Missouri using my standard setup of 2 floats set at 24 and 28′, 2 free lines with a split shot, and downrods set from 20 to 28′. We caught 2 stripers on the floats and 1 on a downline. The bite slowed so we moved south towards Calamity and again set out the same rod configuration. Twice in a little over and hour we had bites on multiple rods, floats, longlines and downlines at once. Both times we had 6 fish on the lines and both times we only boated 3. We caught 11 that morning and they kept their limit. The water temperature up north is 4 degrees cooler than the main lake. I was using 5” and smaller gizzard shad for bait.
Stripers are now being caught on the 1C flat in the mornings and Robinson Point and Crystal Cove in the later afternoons using gizzard shad.
Crappie fishing picked up after the weather change. Keep fishing the creeks, find a brush pile with their tops at 15′ or deeper and you will crappies. Minnows, jigs, and small spoons are catching limits of crappie. The best three creeks right now are Big Creek, Bennett’s Bayou, and Pigeon Creek.
Tom & Sean Reynolds guides out of Tracy Ferry Marina, Tracy Ferry Marina is the only marina that has 24 fuel, you can get gas anytime using your credit card. You can reach us at www.stroutfitters.com, Facebook.com/stroutfitters or 870-421-1541
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