The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

March 25, 2015

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Some photos of our guided trout fishing customers
taken this week at Cotter Trout Dock.

Click images to enlarge.























Fishing Report From Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Bull Shoals

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(Updated 3-18-2015) Ken Minsky of Ken Minksy's Loch Leven Guide Service said the warming trend has had a positive influence on Bull Shoals. The surface water temperature in the mid-lake area (Point 24) has come up several degrees in the main lake from 40 to 47 degrees. The lake elevation is at 657.27 and is about three feet higher than a week ago. White bass are starting to make their way up the larger creek arms in search of warmer water and can be found in depths of 2 to 5 feet. East Sugar Loaf Creek near Lead Hill has a few white bass starting to show, however it is running a little muddy since the last rain. With more rain in the forecast, I would assume it will stay that way for the next few days. Shoal Creek is running very clear and has white bass moving in during the afternoons when the water warms. Make sure to have the White River Border Lakes License (WRL $10.00) with you, as the lake crosses over to the MO side when you get into the upper reaches of this major creek arm. Red and white jigs and Road Runners are working well on these early fish.
(Updated 3-18-2015) Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 3-25-2015) Paul Bobby at GI on the Fly Guide Service(907-350-6610) said the White River below Bull Shoals Dam continues to be the go-to location to consistently satisfy the urge for rainbow and brown trout. Both fly or spin fishing, guides and visitors throwing spinners, white and olive jigs or slinging bait; such as shad, sculpin, crawlers, shrimp or other tasty treats, will put fish in the freezer or fryer. Fly-fishermen fishing midges and white jigs during generation cycles along with scuds or sow bugs or the occasional egg pattern will put a big bend in their rod.
(Updated 3-25-2015) Brad Smith at Arkansas Headhunters (479-283-8490) said with spring break and the Sow Bug Roundup happening on the same week, the river will be busy so plan to be patient. The crowds really thin out in the afternoons into the evening hours, so plan on a later start and enjoy your morning relaxing. We’ve seen quite a bit of low water in the afternoons with a moderate push most weekday mornings. Despite the crowds the river is fishing great. Caddis will continue to become a staple for the fish as the hatch moves upriver. Adding a midge as a dropper will help bring your numbers up.
(Updated 3-25-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the hot spot was Wildcat Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (size 8-10), Y2Ks (size 14-12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead, size 16-18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sow bugs (size 16). Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective (try a prince nymph with a ruby midge or red fan tail midge suspended below it).
(Updated 3-25-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is clear and six generators are running. Many rainbow trout are being caught on Power Bait, worms, shrimp and minnows while the water is up. 

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.27 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(Updated 3-25-2015) Larry Olson of Hand Cove Resort said night fishing season began with a bang last week. My first night out, we boated 15 nice stripers, all in the upper 10- to mid-15-pound range. The second night, we netted 10 in the same size range. The best action was in the Big Creek arm mainly between Sand Island and Woods Point. I launched at Hand Cove and just stayed within a couple of miles of the dock. Rogue-type stick baits produced the best bites. I had really good luck with the Table Rock shad color but I think the normal Norfork Lake blues, bone and red/brown would be just as effective. (Updated 3-25-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is really starting to heat up. The night bite for stripers has been great from 8 to 10 p.m. on stickbaits slow-rolled from the bank to the boat. Remember to reel as slow as you can and reel all the way back to the boat. I get hits a lot of times next to the boat. The morning bite will start very soon as the water continues to warm. Topwater action is on its way, but warmer water is needed. Largemouth and spotted bass fishing is also getting good. Start looking partway back in creeks and coves and watch for bait working on the surface. Hard and soft jerkbaits are working well. In the early afternoon work some of the docks as the bass are coming under them for cover and bait fish. You will also find some nice bass around the shallower brush piles especially if the brush is on a point. Crappie fishing is getting better and better every day. The crappie are moving up to the shore line to start looking for their spawning areas and are on their typical pre-spawn feed. There will be a lot of the males in tight to the shore as they are the ones doing the search, but the big females will not be far behind. Crappie typically like 60 - 65 degree water to spawn and we are not too far away from that water temp. Start looking back in creeks and coves where you can find dead timber and brush in shallow water. Cast out small grubs or swimming minnows with a light weighted jig head and reel back to the boat slowly. During your retrieval stop occasionally and let the bait fall, the crappie will hammer it during the fall. I also like to tip the plastic baits with a live small minnow for added action and scent. The fish are in 2 - 20 feet of water near brush anywhere from the surface and down 10 feet depending on the time of day. I have caught a few walleye after dark slow-rolling a jerkbait. Some of the walleye have spawned already and a few are still back in the creeks spawning. The night fishing for walleye will pick up every day. Look for walleye in the same areas as the striped bass as they will be feeding up tight on the shoreline after dark. Jerk baits are working after dark, slow rolled. In daylight hours look for them along the bluff lines and also large flats. Crawler harnesses with bottom bounces will work. Drop shot rigs with large minnows will also work well.
(Updated 3-25-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said heavy rains muddied the creeks and stained the main lake. It also rose the lake level enough to move a lot of the debris off the shore and into the lake. Because of a lack of strong current and wind, the debris is slowly making its way towards the dam, so be careful if you go out at night. One tip for seeing debris is look for the seagulls. They will rest on floating logs. The gulls look like they are sitting on water but it will be a log just under the surface. The lake temperature continues to hover around the low 50s, without the south winds and warm nights the temperature will stay in the 50s. I continue to fish during the day without much luck, I have tried Bennett’s, Big Creek, the main lake, and Brushy Creek without catching a striper. Some big stripers were caught this past week during the day. One was 28 lbs. and the other was over 30 lbs., but the bite is very inconsistent. Once we get a consistent warming trend with some strong south winds the striper bite will go crazy. Crappie fishing seems to have really turned on. I saw crappie caught in all the creeks very shallow. Also the white bass and walleye have started their run up in the lower creeks and then in Udall also. The night bite continues to be strong. Stripers were caught in the upper, middle, and lower end of the lake. The best bite starts at dark and continues for at least three hours. Water level is getting close to normal. The water visibility is stained in the creeks and off color in the main channels.
(Updated 3-25-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said fishing is heating up on Lake Norfork. The water temperature is 50 to 56 degrees. The cooler water is in the main lake and clear and the warmer water is in the creeks where the water is stained. Bass are hitting suspending jerkbaits, crankbaits and jigs. The striper bite is good at night on stickbaits. The color we used didn't seem to matter the last couple nights. The bite starts at dark. We had our first hit last night at 7:45. We caught all our fish within a few miles of the dam. The topwater bite should start soon, providing the weather quits throwing these cold fronts at us.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 3-25-2015) Brad Smith at Arkansas Headhunters (479-283-8490) said spring break and Sow Bug Roundup crowds will show up on the Norfork but with lake levels still rising, increased generation may thin the wade fishing crowd out. The Norfork has fished awesomely from a boat with one unit of generation and shouldn’t be overlooked. Make sure you’re using enough weight to get your fly down when fishing the heavier flows, which is much easier done from a boat. Reminder: Drag chains aren’t allowed on the Norfork. (Updated 3-25-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Norfork has fished a bit better recently. With the colder weather there was little fishing pressure on the Norfork. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (size 18-22)  like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (size 14-16) 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 18 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 more fishing pressure on Dry Run Creek due to spring break. 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 3-2-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are stained and high. 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 3-2-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are stained and high. 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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