MOUNTAIN HOME, Ark. – Recent rains and melting snow may have raised Lake Norfork’s water level, but Harrison, Ark. pro Robbie Dodson managed to locate his fish and secure the top spot at the Stren Series Central Division event in Mountain Home, Ark.
Working between Henderson Point and the Norfork Dam, Dodson targeted buck bushes, ledges and pockets in 2-15 feet. Throwing 1/2-ounce green pumpkin jigs and suspending baits, he boated a quartet of bass weighing 10 pounds, 12 ounces. His 4-9 won the day’s biggest bass honors.
“My bites were spread out – just one here, one there,” Dodson said. “I didn’t have a fish until 10 this morning, but there wasn’t anything I could do but keep fishing. I just tried to hit as many places as I could.”
The challenge for Dodson was that higher water had covered the shoreline features that he had come to recognize during his 25 years of fishing Lake Norfork. Persistently working areas in which he knew productive features were submerged, the top pro picked his way into a leading stringer.
“I stuck to the places that I’ve always fished and didn’t go crazy trying to fish unfamiliar places,” Dodson said. “I have four or five areas that I always fish and I just kept running them.”
Landing in second place, Wes Endicott of Joplin, Mo. bagged a limit weighing 10 pounds, 1 ounce. Crawling an avocado grub on a 3/16-ounce jig proved most effective for him.
“The fish are not aggressive at all,” Endicott said. “You have to put the bait right in front of them. Sooner or later one of them will bite it.”
Mike “Cowboy” Foree of Osage Beach, Mo. threw jerkbaits all day and boated a third place limit weighing 8-14. Sticking with the same color that he’d been throwing in practice, Foree kept his cards low on the details but said this: “It’s the ugliest color you’ve ever seen. You can throw 100 other colors and the fish won’t eat them, but you throw this one color at them and for some reason, they seem to like it.”
Fishing the Pigeon Creek area, Foree keyed on windy, muddy banks where the fish felt more comfortable in shallow water. The lake’s high water level forced him to spend more time searching for his spots, so catches came late in the day. “At 1:30 I caught my first keeper. It was my smallest fish, but I was so happy I was about to do a cartwheel.”
Finishing fourth was Forsyth, Mo. pro Tim Fleetwood who caught four fish weighing 8-11. Mark Rose of Marion, Ark. placed fifth with 8-1.
Best of the rest
Rounding out the top-10 pro leaders at the Stren Series Lake Norfork event:
6th: Preston Havens of Mountain Home, 7-15
7th: Cary Bever of Rhinelander, Wisc., 7-10
8th: Steve Ruff of Wentzville, Mo. 7-9
9th: Jeremy Lawler of Sarcoxie, Mo., 7-1
10th: Rick Pierce of Mountain Home, 6-8
Horne jigs his way into co-angler lead
Paired with pro Jim Young, Horne worked rock structure in about 30 feet of water and caught his fish by pitching a brown jig with a brown chunk into shallow areas of four to five feet. His three fish weighed 6 pounds, 1 ounce.
“My bites were really spread out,” Horne said. “I caught two of my fish early and then one around one o’clock.”
Horne attributes his success to slow, patient presentations. Overcast skies also helped. “I liked the clouds – if it had been sunny, it really would have been tough,”
Robert Prebeck of Norwood, Mo. trails in second with 5-5, while Todd McCoy of Mountain Home took third with 4-9. Andy Bylander of New Richmond, Wisc. placed fourth with 4-6 and Randy Fraser of New Florence, Mo. was fifth at 3-15.
Best of the rest
6th: Rick Russell of Crystal City, Mo., 3-14
7th: Kurt Evans of Hardy, Ark., 3-9
8th: Peter Kauth of Mountain Home, 3-2
9th: Brad Baldwin of Dayton, Ohio, 2-14
10th: Steve McFarland of Mountain Home, Ark., 2-14.
Evans also had the biggest bass on the co-angler side.
Day two of Stren Series action on Lake Norfork continues at Friday’s takeoff, scheduled to take place at 8:00 a.m. (CT) at Henderson Point Park, off Highway 62 East in Henderson.