Crappie, walleye action is improving

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 The following is a weekly summary of the fishing conditions on Norris Lake as reported by creel clerks from the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency (TWRA).

The lake level on Friday, Feb. 18 was 1,000.59 feet and relatively stable. Surface temperatures remain cool (40-47 degrees) despite warm and sunny days. Slightly stained water can be found only in the upper reaches of the creek embayments and in the river channels. The prolonged period of cold water is causing a die-off of threadfin shad. Sycamore Creek has many shad that are dead and dying along the shoreline. Seagulls can be seen accumulating by the hundreds across some parts of the upper half of the lake where shad are struggling.

Fishing conditions improved, but catches have been slim.

Crappie action is moderate but improving. The best fishing is in the headwaters of the larger creek embayments, where crappies have been caught as shallow as 2 feet in stained water and shallow brush and as deep as 20 feet along the bottom of the creek channels. The best crappie baits are small doll flies, mini tube jigs (red/white, blue/white) and 1/32 oz. hair or feather jigs tipped with minnows.

Fishing for largemouth bass has been moderate. The hollows remained the best locations to catch a stringer of bass. The most productive bass lures have been 5-inch Senko or Finesse-type worms (fished lightly weighted as a Texas rig or as a weightless Whacky rig); 4-inch smoke grubs (Twisters); half-ounce rubber skirted jigs and crank baits fished with a slow, steady retrieve. Fishing for smallmouth bass is fair. Smaller fish are active along rocky shorelines leading into the hollows; larger fish are in deeper water, often suspended 20 feet deep on sunny days with high barometric pressure.

Decent stringers of smallmouth bass have been taken on quarter-ounce hair or feather jigs tipped with medium tuffy minnows and fished along the bottom off moderately sloped rocky banks.

Striper action is moderate. The best catches were on the lower five miles of the lake in the channel between Norris Dam and Point 9. Live shad or alewife and jigging spoons have been the most effective striper baits.

Walleye fishing is slow, but improving in the river channels above points 31 (Clinch) and 16 (Powell). The surface temperature in these sections of the lake is still in the low 40s. Walleyes are on the bottom, 15-20 feet deep, in mid-channel. Action has been hit-or-miss, with mostly male fish being caught while drifting or casting and slowly retrieving feathered doll flies or plastic grub-jigs across the bottom of the channel where the water is no more than 25 feet deep. The water in these sections has been cold — in the high 30s — so the action is slow.