Fiddle Resort on Norfork Lake, Arkansas
NO NEED TO GO NORTH
FOR WALLEYE OR CRAPPIE
by Roger Boskus, owner Fish & Fiddle Resort
For our latest news and current fishing info
you been thinking about a winter or springtime fishing trip for walleye? Lake Norfork
never freezes, and there are no closed seasons. Weather is mild from November through
April, with daytime temperatures averaging well above freezing. Fall foliage usually
occurs anytime from October 15. If walleye or crappie are your pursuit, consider Lake
Norfork. Here's why.
One of the best-kept secrets about walleye is that Lake Norfork, near Mountain Home,
Arkansas, is chuck full of this great sport and table fare fish. Arkansas Game & Fish,
along with Missouri Department of Conservation, have been doing a great job of stocking
walleye in Lake Norfork for a long time now. In 2001 alone 200,000 walleye fry were
stocked. In previous years stocking levels have been about the same. Great natural spawns
have also added to Norfork's growing walleye population.
In the spring quite a few bass and striper fisherman are surprised to catch many
good-sized walleye. And they were especially surprised by the different methods and type
of water they were catching them in. Many fishermen know that if they go up to the mouth
of the lake where the river feeds in, the walleye will be there in February through April.
What they didnt realize is that a lot of these elusive fish stay near the same areas
where they are found in the summer months. The only difference is, the fish move much
shallower during cooler months and are sometimes found near the crappie areas. We were
delighted to be able to catch many walleye from March through May in several areas of
Norfork, and there was no need to travel very far up the lake.
One of the methods that produced a lot of walleye was slow trolling (electric motors), and
long lining very small jigs; a method used by many of our crappie fisherman. Some bass
fishermen casting right into the banks during the bass spawn were also catching the
walleye. Needless to say, many fishermen quickly switched to fishing for walleye instead.
A 1/16 oz to 1/8 oz jig tipped with a small minnow seemed to work best. Also your favorite
walleye worm harness is always a favorite. The color jigs varied with the weather. Bottom
bouncers may also work well, but we have not tried them yet.
So many fishermen do not realize what a premier walleye lake Norfork is and they
concentrate on other species of fish. Of course everyone loves to fish for & catch the
lunker striper that Norfork is known for, but the walleye is a real bonus. Some biologists
are predicting a 20 lb walleye will come from this lake as they are so under fished and
are growing in size and population by the day. So when planning your next walleye fishing
trip, make sure to look at Lake Norfork as you will not be disappointed.
During the cooler weather, October through April, the crappie fishing really picks up.
They move into shallows in the many brush piles that have been added to the lake for fish
cover. We find that when adding our own brush piles, the crappie move in almost
immediately. On any given day, people are surprised by the size of the crappies caught on
Lake Norfork. It is common for these fish to be in the 12 to 15 inch size. We catch them
around our dock on a regular basis in this same size range.
You will find that perhaps you do not always catch these fish in great numbers, but you
will catch the biggest crappie that most people have ever seen. Whether you are fishing
with a guide and catch larger number of crappie, or if you prefer to do it on your own,
the size of our crappie will astonish you. We like use very small tube jigs for crappie.
The trick is finding how deep the crappie are. Once you find that, you can concentrate on
the right color and can usually catch quite a few. Keep trying different depths and
different colors, and it will not be long before you find the right combination.
If the fishing slows, move to another brush pile, then go back later
to the first and try again. Norfork water is very clear so be quiet and calm. Crappie
spook easily and will not bite after a few are caught in one brush pile. By moving and
fishing another pile it gives them time to settle down and return to the brush. As with
other fish, the color jig varies with the weather conditions. Another basic favorite is
using live minnows on a very light slip bobber.
To locate brush piles look for the blue and white signs along the
shoreline. The piles are usually from 50 to 150 feet long, and far enough out in the water
so that they remain submerged during low water periods. The signs are usually about equal
When planning fall, winter, and spring fishing trips keep Lake
Norfork in mind. Walleye, crappie, bass, and striper fishing is especially good in the
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