Norfork Lake


Driving directions: Norfork Lake is about 20 miles southwest of West Plains, and can be reached from Route O, Route T, or Highway 160. 

Annual Prospects Report

Driving Directions:

Lake accesses include Tecumseh, Bridges Creek, Udall, and Liner Creek which are located off Hwy 160, Ozark CR 551, Hwy O, and Hwy T, respectively.

From late February through the first half of March, spawning walleye migrate to Norfork Lake's upper end and into the lake's two main tributaries, Bryant Creek and the North Fork of the White River. Rogues, jigs, and live baits catch the majority of fish during this time of year. In the following months, minnows and nightcrawlers rigged on bottom-bouncers, slowly trolled along flats and points, catch good numbers of fish. Vertically fished spoons and trolled crankbaits are also productive methods. Angling for white bass is expected to be fair due to less than ideal spawning conditions. The majority of fish should exceed 13 inches with a high percentage of fish greater than 15 inches. Fishing usually begins in the upper end of the lake between late March and mid-April and anglers prefer jigs, minnow/shad imitating crankbaits, and live minnows/shad. Largemouth bass and spotted bass make up the majority of the black bass population. Due to the large 2013 year class, anglers should notice improved catches of largemouth bass exceeding 15 inches and spotted bass greater than 12 inches. High water levels throughout 2015 also produced a substantial year class of largemouth bass and spotted bass, but anglers may have to wait another year before these fish reach 15 inches and 12 inches in length, respectively. These successful recruitment years, due in part to high water levels during the summer months, will provide good fishing opportunities now and in future years. Jigs and plastic baits, such as worms, "creature" and tube baits are great choices to use when pursuing black bass. Anglers wanting fish to eat should harvest spotted bass greater than 12 inches. This species doesn't have the growth potential of largemouth bass and often dies before reaching 15 inches. Anglers can identify largemouth and spotted bass by using differences in the jaw bone length, cheek scale size, and absence/presence of a tongue patch.

Crappie fishing has been good using jigs and minnows in the spring and fall with anglers utilizing the 21 new fish habitat structures installed by the Missouri Department of Conservation and paid for with a grant from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Anglers wanting locations of the lake's brush structures can visit for a mobile app, or for MDC's public MO Fishing Interactive Map. Remember to help STOP the spread of aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels by cleaning, draining, and drying out your boat and equipment before traveling to another lake or river.  Missouri residents 16 years of age and older who fish the Arkansas portion of Bull Shoals Lake should take advantage of the $10 White River Border Lakes Permit. This permit allows these anglers to fish the Arkansas portion of this lake without purchasing an Arkansas nonresident fishing permit.

Latest Report

crappie and white bass fair on jigs and minnows; black bass fair on artificial lures.

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Norfork Lake





Best Bets

From annual prospecting surveys

The weekly fishing report is updated every Thursday from the start of April to the end of September.