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Norfork/Bull Shoals and Wheeler Lake Recap

Posted by stephen on May 6, 2016


It’s good to be home after two tough weeks of fishing.  Not only was it tough because of the results, but tournament fishing and practicing for two straight weeks is grueling.  Those that don’t think that bass fishing is a sport should come out and experience a full week of practice from dawn until dusk.  The travel can also be one of the most grueling parts.  It takes a lot of stamina to stay focused and fish well.


Going into the Bull Shoals/Norfork event, I felt like I needed a few things to go in my favor and I would have a good chance to do well.  I spent two full practice days at Norfork and a day and a half looking at Bull Shoals since I have some experience there. 

I decided to go to Norfork first and had a decent first day of practice there.  I had found some fish relating to the shad spawn first thing in the morning, but I knew it was a high risk, high reward way to fish.  I got onto another little deal way up a creek late on the first day, but overall it was slow.

I headed to Bull Shoals for practice on the next day.  I had a little bit better day there and found some quality fish that I would end up catching on day two of the event.  In hindsight, I know I should have left it at one day of practice there and spent the rest of my practice at Norfork Lake where I didn’t have as much knowledge.

The tournaments days went about as expected.  With the slick calm conditions at Norfork I struggled to get of those shad spawn fish and wasted too much time trying to.  After most of the day was done, I ran up the creek that I had found fish and ended up catching a couple keepers in the dingier water where I know some guys caught them as well.  At Bull Shoals, I went back to the area that I had found in practice and put seventeen and a half pounds in the livewell which helped dig me a little out of the hole I was in.  The area I was fishing, I shared with five other guys who all ended up making the top twelve so I felt good about that.  My one bonehead starting decision cost me at Norfork.  The right quality fish were living there, but I needed perfect conditions which never came to be.

After missing the cut there, I made the long trip to Wheeler to begin practice.  Once I got there, I knew that it was fishing a little funky.  I did come across another shad spawn deal on the first day where I managed two or three bites though.  After tuning into that deal, I made sure to get on the water as early as possible everyday to look for more areas with the same deal going on.  Unfortunately, I never found it again.

The first day of the event, I went back to the area I stumbled across on the first day of practice.  When I arrived the shad were still there and they were going crazy.  The problem was, there was zero fish around this time.  It was right near an area that those fish traditionally spawn and it’s a stopping point for them as they head back out.  After that, I went to scrambling.  I could never get it going as it was one fish here and one there for me.  The guys caught them that first day and the average weight seemed to drop over the course of these next two days however.  It seemed to be more representative of how it was fishing in practice.

With those couple tough events out of the way, it’s time to get regroup and get focused on Toledo Bend.  After a great start in the Angler of the Year points, I fell down into the low fifties.  It isn’t a catastrophe though.  I’ve had some really good events at Toledo Bend and I’m hoping to do well there and ride that momentum into the Texoma event.  I’ve only had three bad days of fishing this year, but it just goes to show how good this field really is. -SB