There was a nice article in the Baxter Bulletin on March 4, 2010, talking about Norfork Lake, and how it’s packed with fish after two years of high water — did y’all read it? Let me summarize:
“Two years of high water have resulted in more fish in Norfork Lake than long-time area fishermen have seen in more than a decade. This is attributed to the “uncontrollable” high water over the last two years to a vast explosion in spawning and fry survival, as water got into areas where fishermen couldn’t get to — not even with a chain saw.
And not only that, some of the fish that were in the two- and three-pound class were out of reach… As a result, a lot of those fish didn’t get caught during the spring and the summer. Now that we’ve had two years of really good spawn, the lake is busting at the seams with young bass.
Usually at tournaments, you’d have a few stringers over 15 pounds — you may have one 18- or 19-pound stringer — now we’re having 4 or 5 stringers over 17 pounds.
There’s a lot of good fish in this lake right now.
PROTECTING THE FISHERY
So how long will the fish population keep growing? Well that all depends…
For instance, it’s up to the fishermen to observe the catch-and-release regulations to ensure under-sized fish are returned to the lake. The size limit on largemouth and smallmouth bass is 15 inches or longer on Norfork Lake, and 12 inches or longer for spotted bass. Everybody needs to observe state minimum length limits.
The lake is busting at the seams with a lot of undersized fish that are going to grow to get legal-limit size, and there’s been a lot of years we didn’t have that. That’s what that high water did.
The high water has brought an influx of food into the lakes for the fish to munch on — and grow from — with worms and bugs washed into the lake for the fish to ‘eat and eat’. We’re starting to get that four- to six-pound fish population back in here that we haven’t had for a long time. The high water had a major impact on our fishing. Not only on small fish that were going to grow, but because of the high water a lot of those fish were not accessible when normally a lot of them would have been caught.
We’ve just got a tremendous amount of bass right now. If you’re a fisherman and care about your fishery, it’s encouraging to see those 10- to 14-inch bass, because they’re eventually going to grow to 15 to 18 inches.”