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No Need To Go North For Walleye Or Crappie

Lake Norfork Walleye

Have 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 15th. If walleye or crappie are your pursuit, here are a few reasons to consider Lake Norfork. 

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. They were also 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 didn’t 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.

As you can see, 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 and 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.

Lake Norfork Crappie
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 to15 inch size range. 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 to 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 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 to mid-pile.

When planning fall, winter, and spring fishing trips, keep Lake Norfork in mind. Walleye, crappie, bass, and striper fishing is especially good in the cooler months.

Article and photos courtesy of Joanne and Roger Boskus, owners of Fish and Fiddle Resort on Lake Norfork. Roger and Joanne have successfully fished Lake Norfork for over 10 years. For more details visit the Fish & Fiddle Website.