Norfork Lake Condition and Fishing Report by Scuba Steve from Blackburns Resort and Boat Rental (click here for comment)

We kept the catfish. The bass go under the dock. Image titleImage title

The lake level is 553.43 and is just about what it was at this time yesterday with generation for just a few hours. They are making no effort to drop the lakes. Five of the last six years they have allowed the lakes to get high in four of them they did not drop the lake in the winter. In 2018 they dropped it to 545 and it stayed at normal level all year with several feet of extra capacity. 2017 was nobody's fault with the huge rain in March. That was a horrible year for everyone. It just took too long to get it back down.   When they let it stay at over 553 all winter there is only a few feet of surge left until problems start. Parking, road access and launching starts to be affected at about 560 for several places. One big rain can do that. 565 is manageable but inconvenient. Keeping the White River at Newport this low does not help anybody. Minor flood stage there is 23-feet. You cannot let the government run anything. They need to disband the Corps of Engineers and hire good managers to oversee private companies to run things. They do not clean rest rooms, paint, or do any maintenance any way. It is all contracted out. They do not even manage the gates at the campgrounds. As far as I can see they ride around in new pickup trucks. They flood out their own campgrounds and open spillway gates almost every early summer. Spillway gates do not generate any electricity and the water is wasted. Closed camgrounds do not generate any revenue.  The whole operation is just managed very poorly. The lake now is at a very good level and could remain so if we have a drought. That is about the only way. They quit generating every time it rains to maximize the effect. Who ever come up with the 12-foot rule at Newport should be strung up and they are not even getting to that level now. It is now just over nine feet and was under eight a couple of days ago. It was very cool with a cold wind when I went out yesterday. The surface water temperature was in the low 50's and the ambient temperature struggled to get to 40. It is now time for winter bassin'. Look for high river channel banks with deep water near and a ledge a few feet from shore. Cast your 3-inch grub as far to the banks as you can cast. Bink uses a 1/4 ounce jug head and I use a 3/16 but I fish closer to brush than he does and do not want my lure to sink as fast. There is just more wood close to the bank where some fish are and I do not get snagged so much. Keep the lure sinking as much as possible and let out line if you need to. Nothing else. Watch your line and look for the twitch and set the hook. You will not feel the bite. If you do not set the hook he will jump and spit and be gone. Use a net and do not try to pull them up over the side like they do on TV. The same thing goes for crappie. If they are hooked on the side of the paper thin mouth they will go pop and also be gone. Very few crappie jump but some do. Fishing this time of year requires special skills and more fishermen get shut out. The cat fish continue to bite for some reason. All three different kinds. I am out there everyday and there are very few other boats. It is nice to have the lake to yourself. I like that. I fish for what is biting and do not enjoy chugging around for hours looking at my graph for open water fish, finally find some, have a fast bite for a couple of minutes and then they are gone by the time you get your first fish in. I have not seen a decent striper in a month and it is a good thing we have hybrids. If people do not quit killing small stripers under 10-lbs we will not have any left. Those are even too small. Let them grow.