MoYak Stop #5 – Norfork Recap

The drought of 2022 continued as 59 anglers ventured south of the border to Norfork and for some, this drought included a lack of quality bites to go along with another blast furnace of temps pushing 100 at takeout.

The dog days of summer continued as our FPA (fish-per-angler) was 3.97 and only 46% of the field submitted a limit of bass.

Micah Funderburgh takes Big Bass honors with his 21″ largemouth

After the dust settled, Eli Powers from Arkansas came away with the victory by over 3″.  Eli didn’t respond to the questionnaire we sent but if he does happen to follow up, I’ll add his responses below. Here are your top ten for the 2022 MoYak Stop #5 Norfork Lake presented by Everhart’s Outdoors.

  1. Eli Powers 86.25″
  2. Chris Gilbert 82.5″
  3. Tommy Probst 76.25″
  4. Micah Funderburgh 75.25″ + Big Bass
  5. Jeremy Truitt 74″
  6. Lance Burris 73.75″
  7. Joe Hayes 73.75″
  8. John Evans 73.25″
  9. Josh Keatts 73″
  10. Mike Dent 73″

Team Winners

  1. Team Bonafide (Lance Burris & Mike Keafer) 146.5″

Let’s see how FOUR OF the top five figured it out;

What was your strategy going into the day.

Chris – I planned on catching 90 inches on a big swimbait before 9pm, and my Plan B was more of an emergency plan if I couldn’t get a bite on the Big Swimbait. Plan B was to throw a jig.

Tommy – Just trying to catch a limit since I haven’t done that in the last couple of tournaments.

Micah – Catch quantity and hope that a few quality fish popped up in the back of a river arm.

Jeremy – My only strategy was to grind it out and throw different lures until I found some type of bite. I am not a power fisherman so I tend to slow down and throw creature baits.

Were you able to prefish and did you find anything that helped you on game day?

Chris – Yes I got 3 hours of prefish in the afternoon three days before the tournament. I mean sort of but not really, I would’ve done the same thing if I hadn’t prefished. In prefish I caught a 14  incher on a jig, then threw the big swimbait to locate fish, which I did.

Tommy – Was not able to prefish but did stop and look around at the ramps of a couple of spots that I had picked out.

Micah – Yes, prefished the main lake and the back of a creek arm the day before and decided to not fish the main lake because I’m not as comfortable with it and it didn’t produce as well in prefishing.

Jeremy – I don’t get a chance to really pre-fish any tournaments due to work and kids. So, this one was not any different.

Had you ever fished Norfork before this?

Chris – Not really, the only experience I had before the tournament was that three hours of prefish three days before, and honestly that was just more of almost exploring rather than fishing.

Tommy – No

Micah – No

Jeremy – This was my first time Norfork. It was a great-looking lake and to me, it fished similar to Bull Shoals Lake.

What was the general tackle you used?

Chris – I used one brown and blue jig with the same okeechobee craw on the back all tournament, and caught one on the big swimbait

Tommy – Texas rigged plastics

Micah – Spinning rods with slow finesse presentations. Ned rig, shakey head, drop shot.

Jeremy – My day started with throwing a white quad buzzbait for the first hour or so. I caught a nice 15-inch bass within the first few casts. I missed a few blow-ups and then it shut off. From there I slowed down and started throwing a jig and soft creature baits. I never got a hit on the jig (which is my go-to bait).

How far did you have to travel to find your fish – General area of the lake you chose?

Chris – Started at the ramp and went left, but I ended up catching my last fish a couple miles away from the ramp.

Tommy – I stayed within a half mile of the ramp, Upper end. It looked like areas that I would fish around here

Micah – About a 10 min peddle in a creek arm.

Jeremy – I put in at Cranfield and went up East Pigeon Creek. I don’t know how far I went on the water but I didn’t go up the creek too far.

What depth range were you looking for (what was your water temp/clarity)?

Chris – I was fishing, at most, 4ft usually less, but if I wasn’t sitting in 15ft I wasn’t getting bit. I could see around 12ft most places, my water was mid to high 70’s

Tommy – I fished everything in the area. My 2 biggest fish were caught early and shallow; everything else was in about 10′ of water. Water temp was around 76 in the morning and warmed up to around 81 before I got off the lake. The water looked a little green around the ramp but cleared up towards the river.

Micah – The water temp moved a lot throughout the day.  I want to say it was 86°-89° and I was fishing 4-8ft of water with 2-3ft of visibility.

Jeremy – Most of my fish were caught in the 2–10-foot water depth. Later in the day I started fishing a little deeper 15-25-foot depth. I caught my 18.25″ bass in about 20-foot of water. I keep it simple and don’t really pay attention to water temp or clarity. I just try to fish the water I’m in.

How did you stay cool out there?

Chris – I didn’t stay cool, heat wise of menatlly wise. Lost my 5th fish twice and that really got to me, because they were back-to-back casts, but the skill of keeping a cool head probably comes with age I imagine.

Tommy – Had a lot of drinks in the cooler and I dunked my feet a few times to help stay cool. I got off the lake around noon because I was going to try and change spots but decided it wasn’t worth the effort after driving over to the other spot. Ended up just going to Wendys for lunch.

Micah – People stayed cool out there? There must be a secret I don’t know about.

Jeremy – I kept hydrated and I tried to find shade when I could. I was tempted to stop and take a dip but I couldn’t make myself stop.

Anything else special about the day? Big Bass Story?

Chris – The fifth fish, I caught it by casting behind 3 bushes sticking out of the water, and about 4 seconds after it bit I was panicking on how I was going to get this 3lber in, and it just made a probably 2ft jump over the bushes, it was pretty cool.

Tommy – Happy with the way it turned out but if I had it to do over I probably would have launched somewhere else or tried running up the river right after I made my first pass along the bank where I caught my big bass. 5 or so others launched at the same ramp and pretty much everyone headed up the river as soon as they could take off. I just made a quick circle of the area to try and see what was around and made my first cast along the rip rap of the boat ramp. I got desperate around 1030 or so and started to head up the river but gave up once it got to about 5′ of water. I’m sure there were probably some good holes further up but Lance Burris and others had already picked them apart so I figured it would be a waste of time.

Micah – I gave up my spot to some teens on a bass boat that hadn’t caught anything yet. I was catching a lot of small bass and decided to move off that school to have a chance at something bigger. 2 min later I landed the Big Bass of the day at 21″. Filmed this and the rest of the day on a GoPro, just posted the video on my new channel. https://youtu.be/UtfrSlVe1KQ

Jeremy -Nothing really special at all. I decided to leave my house at 12:30am and got to the ramp around 2:45am. Then I took a truck nap at the ramp. One of these days I will get a chance to pre-fish and stay the night somewhere closer to the lake. My 18.25″ bass was caught on a Trench Hawg. I had to boat flip it because when I grabbed my net it got stuck in my 360 light. Luckily, I didn’t lose it.

See any wildlife worth mentioning?

Chris – No

Tommy – Had a beaver swim to within a couple feet of me without it clapping its tail. It just swam on by.

Micah – A couple eagles and lots of turtles and gar.

Jeremy – I saw a few deer but that was it.

Lose any bigguns?

Chris – No

Tommy – Only missed a couple of fish but don’t think they had any size to them

Micah – Lost a few fish in the 13″-15″ range but nothing big.

Jeremy – I didn’t lose any fish. I only caught 5 fish in total.

Derby Stats
Anglers 59
Fish caught – 234
Total limits – 27 (46%)
Margin of victory – 3.75″
Smallest Bass Award – Anthony Brown 8.25″
Air temp at launch – 78
Air temp at takeout – 97
Water temps reported – Mid 80’s

Trash Fish Winner – Steve Earls (His 2nd event in a row as the garbage man!)

Results — 2022 Norfork

TeamInchesBig BassPlacePoints
Eli Powers86.251300
Christopher Gilbert82.52295
Tommy Probst76.253290
Micah Funderburgh75.254290
Jeremy Truitt745280
Lance Burris73.756276
Joe Hayes73.757272
John Evans73.258268
Josh Keatts739264
Mike Dent7310260
Mike Keafer72.7511257
Trevor Motzkus7212254
Michael Smith71.7513251
Justin Wright69.2514248
Sam Young6816243
Lance Irwin67.517241
Cole Armer67.518239
Scott Kroger67.2519237
Tyy Ward6720235
Michael Sandlin66.2521233
Christopher Robbs6522231
Dorman Hughey6523229
Richie McMichael63.2524227
Nathan Head6325225
Dave Neal59.2526223
Ryan Reed55.7527221
Kerry Evans5228219
Troy Enke50.2529217
Jerry Cornelius50.2530215
Stony Floyd46.2532211
Stacy Jordan43.7533209
Johnathan Dominguez41.534207
Jason Shifflett39.7535205
Jason Payne39.2536203
Darian Beedle39.2537201
Mike Tichenor36.2538199
Anthony Brown33.2539197
Brayden Cravens25.7540195
Steve Earls25.2541193
Brandon Locke24.542191
Levi Cline2443189
Christopher Moyher14.7545185
Cody Huffman14.2546183
James Curtis (Ozark)13.7547181
Danny Johnson11.7550175
Zachary Armstrong051173
Eric Easter053173
Trevor Fanning054173
Shannon Jernigan055173
Sarah Johnson056173
Patrick Troutman058173
James Wilson059173

Results — 2022 Norfork Team

TeamInchesBig BassPlacePoints
Team Bonafide146.51300
Shake & Bake143.752295
The Chatter Boys126.253290
Burrito Banditos113.54285
BassAckwards91.255280
Dink Whisperers826276
Eco Fanatics777272
Slappin Da Bass73.758268
Wet Hookers63.759264