The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

February 25, 2015

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Greetings from all of us at Cotter Trout Dock on the banks of the White River in Cotter, Arkansas!

We are expanding on our Weekly Fishing Report from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission to include some of the latest happenings around here at the dock and anywhere that we find interesting. 

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Fishing Report From Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Bull Shoals

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 652.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(Updated 1-21-2015) Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is around normal level right now. The water temperature is in the low to mid 40s on the surface. Visibility looks okay standing on the dock. Bass are fair on stick baits like Rogues, X-Raps and MegaBass Visions fished extremely slowly from the surface to 10 feet deep. Jigs are working well in 5 to 15 feet of water; stick with dark colors and crawl the jigs along sloping banks. Spoons are working well anywhere you find balls of shad and other baitfish; they could be anywhere from 10 to 60 feet deep. Soft plastics fished along channel swings back in the creeks is always a good bet in winter on Bull Shoals. Crappie are fair on 1/32-oz to 1/64-oz. jigs fished around brush in 20 to 35 feet of water on still days when you can feel your jig. Small minnows and small spoons also are working well around the deep brush.
(Updated 1-7-2015) Ken Minsky of Ken Minksy's Loch Leven Guide Service had no report.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 2-11-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the hot spot was the catch-and-release section down through the State Park. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (size 8 and 10), Y2Ks (size 14 and 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead, size 16 and 18), pheasant tails  (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (try a flashback beadhead pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge or red fan tail midge suspended below it). Egg patterns have been very effective. The higher flows on some mornings and afternoons have been conducive to fishing large streamers. You need a fast sinking sink tip line and an eight weight or better rod. This is a heavy lift that requires casting skills and patience.
(Updated 2-25-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said generation is heavy in the mornings and slow in the afternoons. A lot of shad are coming through the turbines. Brown trout and rainbow trout are biting very well on pink worms and bait shrimp.
(Updated 1-7-2015) Newland's Resort below Bull Shoals had no report.  Visit the Projected water flow page and live web cam at Newland's web site.

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 547.80 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).(Updated 2-25-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said winter was very mild until the last two weeks. We had the coldest weather of the year and that has brought the water temperature down to where we may experience a shad kill. I do not expect it to be severe like 2014, but we will just have to see how warm in the next several weeks. Not to worry, a small shad kill can actually make fishing better. We have not seen the February south winds yet this year. Until we do I do not expect much change in the fishing conditions. When the warmer winds start the stripers will begin to move from the deep water following the shad toward the shoreline. There will multiple opportunities to catch stripers then. Both live bait and artificial lures will be very effective. The night bite will begin once the winds blow from the south. You will want to fish the north banks of the bays and points. Some excellent spots are the points near the near the dam, Frog Pond, Diamond Bay, Cranfield Island, and the points north of Cranfield marina heading towards Red Bank. The best time to night fish is a half hour before dark until 12 pm. The best lure is the 51/2-inch Rogue. The color of the Rogue varies but black/gold, nuclear clown and blue/black seem to work the best. These Norfork Lake exclusive colors are available only at our local tackle shops such as 101 Grocery and Bait and Greg's Baits at Hand Cove Resort. Make long casts parallel to the bank and reel back very very slowly so that the action of the lure works best for you. A lot of the bites will happen right next to your boat. The reason for parallel casting is that on Norfork Lake you can be casting next to shore but your boat might be in 90 feet of water.
(Updated 2-18-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said winter fishing on Norfork Lake for striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass had been fantastic this year, up until a few weeks ago. Around the first of February the baitfish started to move out of their winter pattern, and so did the predators. I fished several days last week and found fish on large flats in 30-50 feet of water on the bottom and nothing in the deep channels. I found big schools of roaming hybrids and whites. If I was lucky enough to get over a school of fish I had fun. There were a few striped bass mixed in with the hybrids. This movement of the fish is typical for this time of year, but may have occurred a little earlier than normal. Unless this current cold front changes things, what you can expect to happen over the next 4 weeks or so is that stripers will start to migrate back into the creeks. As the water warms they will continue to move farther back in the creeks. Typically at the end of February and beginning of March, I will find stripers in the Cranfield and Fouts areas at my end of the lake. They will also be up in the Red Bank and Calamity areas this time of year. They will be feeding on bait along the bluff lines. The night bite for the stripers will start around mid March as the water temp warms to 50 degrees or so. You need to start getting your stick baits ready for the slow roll night bite, it is a blast. Black bass have also changed their patterns a little. You will still find some nice fish on the bottom in 50 feet of water, but I have caught a few big ones suspended at 20 feet over 30 – 40 feet of water along bluff lines. Throwing an Alabama rig for these suspended fish is working well. For the bottom feeders, jigs or worms are a good choice. As the water starts to warm these fish will start to move up into shallower water. Walleye are staging for their spawn. They can be found along the side of channels off of rocky points in 30-50 feet of water. They will move back into creeks and coves as the water warms a little more. The Calamity area and into Missouri waters is one of the favorite spawning ground for walleye in February. Dragging crawler harnesses or live shad are great baits. Sinking stick baits are a good choice for artificial bait. The night bite will also bring out the walleye fishermen. After their spawn, they will be on shallow points at dusk and after dark. Crappie are both scattered and on deep brush piles. The scattered fish will be following bait so if you can find a good concentrations of bait, especially around docks, the crappie won’t be far behind.
(Updated 2-11-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said The water temperature is in the mid-40s. Look for the stripers close to the river channel and in the deep creek channels. Look on the flats adjacent to them, as well. The key is to find the baitfish (shad). One day they are in one spot and the next they are gone. You just have to keep moving around to find them. They are usually 40-70 feet deep, but sometimes they will be a little shallower at 30 feet. Look for bass in the deep brush piles and along the bluffs and out on the ends, too. Try a suspending jerkbait, a 4-inch swimbait, flat tail grub or a jig. There are a few hitting Wiggle Warts.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 2-11-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the tailwater has fished poorly recently with increased pressure. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18-22)  like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (size 14 and 16) like the green butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise size 10). There have been reliable hatches of small midges (try a size 24 Adams parachute) and caddis (try a size 18 elk hair caddis).The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday. There was little fishing pressure on Dry Run Creek. It has been a great time to fish there. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10).

Buffalo River

(Updated 2-11-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek have cleared and are navigable. With the colder weather, the smallmouths are not active. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Crooked Creek

(Updated 2-11-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek have cleared and are navigable. With the colder weather, the smallmouths are not active. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.
 
 
 

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