The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

March 4, 2015

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About Us and This Newsletter Fishing Report

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 Highlight of the Week:big brown
Calvin Johnston of Olathe, Kansas, set the mark pretty high for his first Arkansas trout-fishing trip. On Friday, February 27, Johnston landed a brown trout weighing 38 lbs. 7 oz. on the White River near Cotter, Arkansas.

This is the third largest brown trout caught in Arkansas, and the largest ever recorded from the White River.  AGFC Trout Mangement Program Coordinator said, "This is just further evidence that anglers still have the opportunity to catch trophy fish on Arkansas's world-class trout waters."
(Info and photo from Ark. Game and Fish)
Calvin was not fishing with Cotter Trout Dock.                          Click for larger image.

Fishing Report From Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Bull Shoals

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 653.21 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 3-4-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said during the past week, we have had snow (about half an inch here in Cotter), brutally cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The hot spot was the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (sizes 8 and 10), Y2Ks (sizes 12 and 14), 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 (szie 10), and sowbugs (szie 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 as well. Redds are present in the tailrace, so wade carefully and try not to disturb them.
(Updated 3-4-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the weather has been very bad, and not many anglers are visiting the river, but the fishing should be good.

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 547.74 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).(Updated 3-4-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said although the weather is still keeping anglers off the water, fishing on Norfork Lake will explode when we start to see a consistent warming weather patterns. Stripers, walleye, crappie and bass will all get very active. The fish will appear in different parts of the lake. For example the walleye will begin their spawning cycle and will be found spawning on pea gravel sloping banks. Some of the better spots are at the Arkansas Missouri state line, Liner Creek, Bridges Creek to the US 160 bridge, Hand Cove area, Dam Cove, and Thumb Point. Stripers will move to the warmest and dirtiest water up into the creeks. Find a creek with warm dirty water and you should find stripers, from Pigeon Creek to Big Creek stripers will be found. The night time stripers can be caught all over the lake, with a strong south wind happens you can find stripers on any northern shores. Some good spots are Diamond Bay, Dam Cove, Thumb Point, Cranfield Island, points leading up towards Red Bank, Barron Creek and around Reynolds Island in Big Creek to name a few. Crappie will begin their movement from the deep brush piles towards the creeks. The big issue with crappie is the fronts and rain storms. I have watched anglers catching crappie in 1 foot of water way back in a creek. The next day after a heavy rain the same spot will be void of crappie. They had moved off to find a deeper brush pile. You can still catch them but the bite will be a little slower until the warm lake water returns. Crappie will be caught in all the major creeks. Just look on your depth finder for brush piles. They are scattered over the lake in every creek arm. Find the brush and you will find the crappie. This is when a current Norfork Lake fishing map comes in handy. The most current versions are available at the local bait and tackle shops. Bass will begin their move up the creeks and cove also. Smallmouth are the first to spawn. They will spawn on deep boulders off sloping points for example at Barron Point near point 1. Largemouth will move all the way up the creeks and back into the coves to make their beds. Again cold fronts will dictate their cycle, warm weather and normal water levels will keep them on the beds. A heavy storm will move the bass off the beds and back into deeper 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 3-4-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the tailwater has fished poorly recently. With the colder weather there was little fishing pressure on the Norfork. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (size 18 to 22)  like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (size 14 to 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.

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.

Cotter Trout Dock, 321 Big Spring Pkwy pob 96, Cotter, AR  72626 To ensure you receive our monthly newsletter, make sure you add to your address book. If you prefer not to receive future email from Cotter Trout Dock, please unsubscribe here.