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Discussion Starter #1
I bought a new bass boat last summer and fell back in love with fishing. I am ATE UP with it! Anyway, I am planning a week-long trip for March (probably the last week) and have narrowed it down to either Norfork or Bull Shoals. I would love to hear any opinions as I have never fished either one.

Largemouths are the main focus, but hybrids would be a great bonus.

I am also looking for a place to stay on the lake, so any opinions on lakeside resorts, cabins, etc would be appreciated too.

What would be your choice - Norfork or Bull Shoals?
 

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For the last several years, our company tournament has been held on Bull on the last weekend in April. The fishing has been phenomenal every year. We normally stay at Ridgecrest. It's on the Howard Creek arm. Boat ramp right there. Walleye will be your bonus fish instead of hybrids
 

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There are no hybrids in Bull so if you want them or Stripers, your best bet is Norfork. There are stripers in Bull but they are far and few between and your chances of getting one are pretty slim. But if you do hang a striper in Bull, it'll probably be much bigger than anything you'll catch in Norfork.

That being said, Bull has the best bass fishing both in size and numbers. Not that Norfork isn't a good bass lake, it's just that Bull is much better. The problem with Bull, especially if you haven't fished it before is that it's an enormous size like with zillions of coves and bays and it can be overwhelming. Norfork is a bit smaller but is still one of the bigger lakes in Arkansas and it too can be overwhelming if you are new to fishing it. Forget lily pads or dark water because both these lakes are very deep and clear. Bull was never scraped so there are still standing forest in the lake, although in very deep water. Norfork was scraped clean so most of the cover there are rocks, drop-off's, channel swings and that sort of thing. Both lakes do have some fish-attractors put in by the G&F with signs up and people have put in some trees which are unmarked but you might find them with a locator. Since both lakes are so clear, you are better off with light line which is less visible to the fish.

As stated above, walleye are a great second choice in both Norfork and Bull. The spawn should be starting about the time you arrive and will run through most of April so if you do a lot of night fishing, you might just catch more walleye than bass. Try finding some chunk-rock shoreline adjacent to deep water and use a clown colored Rattling Rogue.

Wherever you end up, best of luck in your fishing.


Cheers.....
 

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Good info...thank you. One other question - is late March an ideal time?
I would think maybe the first or second week of April would be better but late March should be okay. Most of the biggest bass are caught around this time because the females are heavy with eggs. For walleye, best fishing is when the water is between 50-60 degrees but keep in mind that you need to be out on the lake at night to consistently catch walleye during this time of the year which is their spawning cycle.

As stated above, the distance between Norfork and Bull Shoals dams is about 40 miles so it might not be a bad idea to think about spending some time at both. Heck, at Norfork, you could camp below the dam and go up to the lake which is less than a mile and fish for stripers, hybrids, and walleye or if that didn't work, catch a bunch of trout below the dam at the camp ground. At Bull, you could camp over at Lakeview which would give you access to the lower portions of the lake near the dam.


Cheers.....
 

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One thing also to consider is that the 28-29 bass cat has there annual tournament on Norfolk and that is a 300-400 boat tournament and takes up the majority of motels. The weekend before that is cystic fibrosis tournament on Norfolk that is a pretty big tournament as well
 

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I have fished both lakes and can't say I like one better that the other. Mainly have bass fished for large and smallmouth bass. my favorite is a brown or black 1/4 to 3/8 jig with a #11 Uncle Josh pork rind. Largest bass I ever caught was 7.5 largemouth in Bull shoals on a Black Plastic worm. Spring is daytime fishing and summer/fall is night time fishing for best results. Good luck! :thumb:
 

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stay FAR away from Norfork last two weekends in March .... Cystic Fibrosis tourney second to last week, Bass Cat OI last weekend

take a number to get on a bank to fish :biggrin:
 

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We have been going to Norfork for 8 years now, we try to go late April but the last 3 years have been off for us. Going the 2nd week of May this year. Hummingbird Hideaway is a good place. Lou has a lot of brush piles and he will show you where they are at.
 

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Bass Cat OI is on Norfork, March 28 & 29 2014 I'm fishing it with coonnutz


Stay far away from Norfork that week and the couple of days after is my best advice
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Well, between some great advice here and work demands, I am moving it to mid or late April. Still don't know which lake though! A few suggested both - pretty good idea.

Many, many thanks all. This was very helpful.
 
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