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

The lake level is 553.50 and has dropped 1/2 inch in the last 24-hours with 1/2 generator running for several hours.They have just started up a full generator for the first time in several days. The Norfork lake Striper Club posted a dissolved oxygen report and it was interesting and we thank them for doing it. It explains a lot of things. The Striper comfort zone for dissolved Oxygen is 5-6 parts per million and it is now above that down by the dam down to 75-ft. and by the Highway 62-bridge down to 70-ft. and nearly zero below that. Now that the lake has turned over there is no reason for the fish to be in any special place except for cover and food. This is when brush piles really come into play, especially for walleye, crappie, bluegill, bass and catfish. The red meat fish will mostly be on shad which will follow the wind blown plankton as will some largemouth bass. There will be a few fish coming up part way back in the creeks as the sun warms the very top of the water towards late afternoon.  In 2019 we had a white bass die-off in May resulting in a much reduced population which still exists. In 2002,2008,2011,2017,2019,2020 and 2021 we had high water years for extended periods of time resulting in striper kills in september which has  greatly reduced the numbers of the larger fish. For some reason we did not have a striper kill this fall after high water but it may be because all of the big ones are gone. The damage already been done coupled with no stockings by Game and Fish in 2020 due to covid has really reduced our temperate bass populations but people continue to kill them and brag about it. I personally do not fish for them in deep water and release all that I catch accidently. Dock floors full of dead small stripers is not doing any good and increases the time it will take for them to replentish. The high water years and fish kills in september affects Norfork Lake the most and I do not know why for sure but it has to do with a dissolved oxygen bubble. If the high water continues for extedended periods of time for very many more years it would not make any sense to keep stocking them and I am sure this is being studied by Game and Fish. Over fishing is not helping things out any either. People have really learned how to catch them easily. Some guides are already moving to other lakes and fishing for walleye or switching to bass and crappie on Norfork. People that are used to catching 20-30 and even 40-lb. stripers are just not willing to settle for 6-9 pounders and it is going to be hard to convince them that small is big. Some are not coming back striper fishing anymore.  We sure did have some good years striper fishing though.  But in their absence other species are picking up the slack in numbers and size due to the decreased pressure on the shad. The bass are really healthy and growing fast. It takes four years for a largemouth bass to reach the keeper size of 15-inches and we have a lot of them. I wish there were more walleye stocked but at least they do reproduce somewhat in the lake unlike the stripers and hybrids. Crappie , bass, bluegill, walleye and catfishing is just fine and I hope the stripers come back. We will see. Release a few of those white bass until they get their numbers back. At least they replentish themselves quickly. The lake is clearing a little everyday after the turnover and the fishing is getting better but is still just fair. The surface water temperature is between 64and 65 depending what time of day and where and if the sun is shining. It should stabilize with the warmer weather coming Monday  with highs to be in the low 70's. I saw a jet ski out there yesterday. I had hoped they were all winterized and put away.  They seem to have this intense desire to run them back in the creeks close to docks and close to other fishing boats. I sometimes think I should put a seatbelt on my front bass boat seat. I just got several rental boat seats reupholstered at ITS in Midway back yesterday. They sure due an excellent job and for a fair price. I have another load to take up. Nice people. It is about time to winterize some of Blackburns cabins but we keep a few open all year and do not close to go on vacation. I have everything I want here. No need to leave when you live in the best place.