Norfork Lake has more than 550 miles of shoreline and covers some 22,000 acres. There are 19 developed U.S. Army Corps of Engineers parks that provide plenty of opportunities for camping and for water sports. Boating, water skiing, ping and swimming are all extremely popular on the lake. Commercial docks on the lake have boats, motors, guides and equipment for ping. In addition to parks for camping, there are many resorts offering accommodations, some with private docks, swimming pools and other recreational amenities.
Fishing: Almost all varieties of fresh water game fish are found in the lake, which is fed by the North Fork River and its tributaries. Bass, walleye, crappie, bream and catfish all make their home in its waters. The oldest of Arkansas’s large man-made impoundments, Norfork has consistent variety in its fishing. Lake Norfork contains one of the best striped bass fisheries in Arkansas. The lake is stocked annually, and stripers over 40 pounds are commonly taken. Many in the 30-pound class are caught every year. Shad are plentiful in Lake Norfork, so stripers average 2.5 to 3 pounds of growth per year. A 20-year-old striper in Lake Norfork weighs about 25 pounds. Black bass fishing is at its best from September through May, and an increasingly popular sport on the lake is night fishing with lights for crappie and white bass.
November is prime time to catch crappie around Christmas tree fish attractors on lakes Norfork and Bull Shoals. Positioned in clusters below the water’s surface, the trees create large brush piles serving as shelter for young fish, minnows and shad and attracting black bass and crappie. Winter is prime time for catching crappie around man-made fish attractors. These attractors are marked with blue and white reflective signs on the shoreline. Upon locating a marked sign, steer your boat 20-30 feet away from it. Using a four-pound test line and a 1/16-ounce jig head, cast toward the fish attractor. Count down until you get a hit or hit brush. If you get a hit, use the same count the next cast. If you hit brush, use a shorter count.
The North Fork River below the dam is a popular and productive trout fishing stream, and the Norfork National Fish Hatchery, available for tours, assures a continuous supply of trout to maintain the populations of the North Fork, the White and other area trout streams. A former world-record brown trout was taken from the river in 1988. A state-record 4-pound 12-ounce brook trout was caught in 2000.
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