High Lake Levels Close Some Corps Facilities

Visitors to Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are reminded that many U.S. Army Corps of Engineer facilities remain closed because of recent heavy rains and high lake levels.

The Bull Shoals Lake parks currently closed are Beaver Creek, Highway K, Lead Hill, Oakland, River Run, Theodosia, and Tucker Hollow. The Bull Shoals Lake parks partially closuresd are Buck Creek and Highway 125.

The Lake Norfork parks currently closed are Cranfield, Henderson, Panther Bay, Pigeon Creek, Tecumseh, Udall, and Quarry. The Lake Norfork parks partially closured are Bidwell, and Robinson Point.

Additionally, all swim beaches at Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are closed. Boaters are allowed to launch where road access is available. The only high-water boat launch ramp available at Bull Shoals Lake is at Lead Hill Park. The only high-water boat launch ramp available at Lake Norfork is at Henderson Park.

All visitors to Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are advised that when boating near the shore, beware of hidden underwater hazards because of the high water. Boaters should go slowly and be extra cautious to avoid objects they would not normally expect in the water. Look for sign posts, picnic tables, table canopies and other structures often found in a campground or picnic area.
Swimming or wading into the lake may be hazardous until water levels have dropped closer to the top of conservation pool. Be aware that floating logs, trees, trash and debris of all sizes could be anywhere in the lake for the next several months. Be extremely careful at night, as obstructions are even more difficult to see.

Daily lake information can be obtained at www.swl-wc.usace.army.mil.

Bull Shoals Lake Fishing Report – April 19, 2017

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 656.19 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 4-19-2017) K Dock Marina reported the water has cleared up a lot in the past week. Lake level remains steady at about 3.5 feet below normal pool of 659.00 feet. Surface temperature has finally gone above the 60-degree mark, resulting in some great fishing. Temperature has ranged 62-65 degrees. Clarity is clear. Black bass are good on a variety of small to medium plastics in the backs of coves. Also good on Wiggle Warts and Rock Crawlers on points and into coves. Spinnerbaits are working well on breezy days. Crappie are good on live minnows in the coves around bush piles. Swimming minnows also working good. Chartreuse seems to be the color right now. Crappie should be right on the shoreline in a week or two. Walleye are fair on small to medium crankbaits. Should be in the 10-15 feet depths soon with the water temperature rising. Also fair on silver or white spoons. White bass are fair up the lake from K Dock around the Beaver Creek arm.
(updated 4-19-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said water temps are about 60s depending on location. They’ve had some cool nights last week and a little bit of rain, though not quite enough to get us up to into the bushes like anglers wanted, but enough to give a little color to the backs of creeks. If it stays stable, anglers will start seeing some of the large females start moving up on the beds. They’ll be cycling through over the next couple of weeks. With the clear water, fishing is a little tougher but you can see a lot the beds and a lot of guys are catching fish off the beds. Lots of Kentucky bass, smallmouths and largemouths males are still up. Del says that what he likes to key into is some of the dirty water. If you go up the lake in the major creek arms, anywhere some of that muddy water is moving in, it seems to be a lot easier to sneak up on them. Over the next couple of weeks, you should be able to follow the spawn back into the lake. Anglers are not quite locked on, but there were some fish caught in the very backs of the dirtier creek arms. If you’re fishing the clear water, obviously it’s going to be a lot more challenging, it takes a little more finesse. What will work will is a Ned rig or shaky head, natural colors, green pumpkin, watermelon, watermelon red. Or use a jig, as the jig seems to be getting some of the bigger fish. They’re not necessarily all the way in the very backs. If you’re going into a spawning pocket, the last bit of deep water, a bluff, a point before they go up and spawn is where they’re hanging. Del says he’s not fishing real deep, just in 15-20 feet of water. Check the shore, hit the shore; the gravel pockets are where some fish are going to spawn. Look at all those areas on your maps. You’re going to catch a lot of fish there. Enjoy it while it last. They’re not going to stay shallow all year. This is a great time to get into the shallow bite. If you find dirty water, still use the Shaky Head, and under bluebird skies pick up the finesse stuff. Use a drop-shot in the beds. Carolina rigs will work. In the really dirty water, some anglers are still throwing swimbaits, and some guys are using a bigger swim bait targeting large females and catching them. A squarebill is working in the skinny water. A War Eagle spinnerbait in dirty skinner water. Try to match the conditions of the water. Also a Sexy Mouse in natural color with a little chartreuse to get their attention. It’s a fun time to be fishing. Early in the morning or late in the evening people are still catching some walleye with jerkbaits, swimbaits, lots of ways.

Bull Shoals Lake Fishing Report – April 5, 2017

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 654.95 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).

(updated 4-5-2017) K Dock Marina reported the lake has jumped about 3 feet with the recent rains. Limited debris, but a lot of color to the water, a dark green to rust color. Good for bass fishing! Not going to be very detailed on this report, but wanted to focus on the crappie bite. Water temperature is actually climbing to the 60-degree mark, which should trigger a good bite with all species. Crappie are good, but not great. Live minnows and swimming minnows are really working in and around the brush piles in the coves. A 60-65 degree surface temperature should have them right on the banks of the coves. Any morning sunshine should result in some great afternoon crappie fishing. If you’re after bass, throw a small jig or small plastics on the points and high bluffs. Walleye should start hitting small to medium crankbaits trolling both shallow and near the bluffs.


(updated 4-5-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said water has come up quite a bit. They’ve gotten a little bit of rain; Del wishes they had it in the bushes little bit better, but it is what it is, he said. Water temperature is about 60 degrees in back of creeks, 58 in the main lake. They went from pre-spawn to spawn this week. Del was on a bowfishing trip and what he saw, the smallmouth are definitely on the beds everywhere. The males are on the beds. Kentuckies are out a little bit with the smallmouths and the largemouth are right behind them. Largemouths are going to spawn in shallower water than the smallmouths. For the smallmouths, he said, they’re in 12-117 feet of water, so you want to keep your boat in 25-26 feet and cast out. With largemouths you can get in a little bit shallower water. With the spawn going on, what you want to look for – you can catch them a lot of different ways, he said, it’s a matter of getting it in right places. Anglers are catching them on creepy crawlers, purple orange pink lizards, Carolina rigs, worms, flukes, Shaky Head, it doesn’t matter. Natural colors work better in clear water, but he said you don’t have to always go with that rule of thumb. It’s all about locations while they’re spawning; look for the gravel points, pockets, anywhere where the gravel is at, the flats where the beds are, that’s what you want to focus on. That approach is going to be good for the next couple of weeks. These are the days you’re going to catch 10-20-30-40 fish a day depending on the day, Del said. If you’re going to catch some bass and let them go, take the picture where they’re at and let them go immediately. They have a job to do, that’s spawning, and let them do it, Del said. If you’re going to chase walleye, the bite is still going pretty strong. It usually starts tapering off about now, but anglers are still catching them on jerkbaits early or late. On a cloud day or raining day you can still catch them using a jerkbait. It’s the same with the white bass; they’re still being caught in backs of creeks. That is going to taper off, but for the next couple of weeks fishing is good, he said.

Bull Shoals Lake Fishing Report – February 1, 2017

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 650.29 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 1-25-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said before last weekend that it was hot out and the fish didn’t know what to do. Water temperature on the main lake has been 49-50 degrees, while it gets a little cooler back in creeks. Del didn’t get a lot of time out lately because they did the Springfield (Mo.) boat show. As far as the bite goes, he’s still catching them on a Wiggle Wart or Rock Crawler. The water is real clear. You could see the drop-shot bait 17 feet down last week. He’s been catching some using a flat-sided crankbaits. The wind’s been piling up in the back of the draws. Work the banks, the 45-degree banks and look for wind. You’ve gotta have the wind. If you don’t have it at one stop, just go to the next stop. Those fish are shallow, catching them in 7 feet off the shore, while keeping the boat parallel to the bank. Catching a few on a jig. If there is any wood or brush piles around the boat docks or close to deep water, drag a jig through there. Those fish are 10-25 feet throughout the day. Been catching a few fish on the spoon. Went and checked on the deep fish, and those fish are toward the back or in the middle of the creek. Today they weren’t all the way back but halfway back, they were close to the main channel, at 40-50 feet. There is just a little bit of shad here and there but kind of spread out, no solid pattern like is normal for this time of year. Keep moving and keep fishing.