JOPLIN, Mo. (AP) _ Fishing for black bass has been excellent this fall on Lake Norfork, situated in the scenic Ozarks of Northwest Arkansas on the North Fork of the White River.

Impounded in 1944, Norfork covers 22,000 acres at the top of its conservation pool and features 380 miles of shoreline. The lake was clear cut when it was constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers, so there is no standing timber in the lake bed. The reservoir does contain a lot of man-made brush piles, however, and this is an excellent place to look for bass, crappie and other species.

According to veteran guide Garry Sperry, 42, of Gamaliel, Ark., there are two basic patterns for black bass during the fall on this deep body of water. ''Lake Norfork usually turns over in September,'' Sperry said. ''When this happens, bass will either be very shallow or very deep.''

Lake Norfork stratifies at about 28 feet. Before the lake turns, the bass will be on top of the thermocline in water 18 to 23 feet deep. ''When the lake turns over, the bass will go below the 30-foot mark to get under the thermocline, or they will come to the top staying in water 2-to-3 feet deep,'' he said.

Places to look for bass in the fall on Norfork are the deep creek channels on the main lake bluffs, or back in the creek arms where the water is less than 20 feet deep. ''Due to mild seasonal weather, the bass will stay shallow on Norfork until late November or early December,'' Sperry said. ''It's not unusual to catch bass 3-to-4 feet deep in the late fall.''

A sure bet on Norfork in the fall is to ply the deep water bluffs. ''There are bass on the bluffs that never leave. They just move up and down with the seasons,'' Sperry said.

Lures that are productive here in the fall include plastic worms, jig and pork chunks, spinnerbaits, and shallow diving minnow-type lures such as the Rattlin' Rogue or Rebel.

Sperry's favorite colors in plastic worms are light and dark shades of purple, blue, and motor oil. ''When I'm throwing a jig and chunk, I use brown on brown in the daytime and black on black at night,'' he said.

The guide prefers a medium to heavy spinning rod, and an open face spinning reel spooled with 8- to 12-pound test line. ''The water in Norfork has a blue tint to it,'' he said. ''But it is very clear, so you have to use light line.''

Lake Norfork has a number of large creeks feeding it, and many of these creek channels contain sunken logs, and other debris that wash in with the spring floods. These are prime areas to look for bass in the fall.

''In the fall months, the lake will be at or below the conservation pool,'' he said. ''Any cover that you find in the creek arms is going to be holding bass. And this includes crappie beds.''

If you are not familiar with Lake Norfork, here are some areas that Sperry recommends. ''The Bennett Bayou area is one of the best in the lake during the fall,'' he said. ''It is situated about mid-lake and includes two feeder creeks.''

The Red Bank Area, which is all main lake fishing, and Big Creek, situated near the dam, are other prime sites to tempt a largemouth during the fall months.

Sperry guides out of 101 Boat Dock, and said most of the docks maintain maps showing the location of known brush piles. A copy of one of these maps is no guarantee for success, but it is a sure step in the right direction.

Fish in Table Rock Lake in Southwest Missouri are not contaminated by chlordane and are safe to eat, according to results of tests conducted by the Missouri Department of Conservation.

James Czarnezki, water research biologist for the department, said no evidence was found to indiate that Table Rock was unsafe for recreation or fishing.

The study was conducted after tests on catfish and carp from the James River, a tributary of Table Rock, showed high levels of chlordane, a persistent pesticide which has been linked to health problems.

Fish sampled in Table Rock included largemouth bass, white bass, channel catfish, flathead catfish, carp and redhorse sucker. The highest chlordane concentration found was 171 parts per billion in channel catfish from the Long Creek Arm. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has established 300 parts per billion as the maximum permissible level.

End Adv Weekend Editions Nov 15-16