The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

April 1, 2015

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Some photos taken this week of our guided fishing customers  at Cotter Trout Dock.
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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 664.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(Updated 4-1-2015) Ken Minsky of Ken Minksy's Loch Leven Guide Service said the water is on the rise, and has come up about a half foot a day over the last two weeks. The main lake temperature near the Point 24 area is now up to the mid-50s. With the rise in water, flooded shoreline vegetation is providing lots of cover for fish exploring the shallows. White bass are continuing to move up the creek arms in search for spawning areas, and are hitting fairly well. Be prepared to search for them a little bit though. With the rising water, areas that were holding fish two days ago may be too deep tomorrow. I would start as far up the creek as you can go and work your out to deeper water until you locate them.  If you’re real lucky you may even tie into a striped bass that’s hanging around with the whites. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass are also making their way to the back of the creek arms. Look for water that is at least 55 degrees. The banks with a southern exposure will warm up the quickest and more than likely hold the most fish. Although some of the fish may be as shallow as a couple of feet, you’ll have to coax them out of the submerged brush. Keep in mind that for every fish you see up in the very shallow water, there are many more out in the 12- to 20-foot range. The best success has been coming from crawfish imitations and shad imitations presented low and slow, just off the bottom. Crappies have not yet made a major push for the shallows, however a few are being picked up in 12 to 20 feet of water on small jigs. Bluegills remain in depths of at least 18 feet, but with the water warming up it should not be too long before they start moving a little shallower as well. Bow fishermen should start gearing up, as carp are moving into the brush along the shoreline.  Backs of creek arms are holding fish as well as shallow, protected pockets and cuts along the main lake. Walleyes have completed spawning, and usually rest up for a week or two before aggressively feeding again.  In one or two weeks they should move to 5 to 20 foot depths and long line trolling should be very effective along the shoreline in the evening.
(Updated 4-1-2015) Steve Curtis at S&S; Guide Service (870-740-1140) said bass and crappie are picking up on Bull Shoals right now. Most of the bass are being caught on flukes fished without a weight around brush on points and in the backs of pockets. Football jigs are producing some nice smallmouth on secondary points at around 15 feet deep. Most of the crappie are being caught around brush in 20 to 25 feet of water in the Howard Creek area.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 4-1-2015) Paul Bobby at GI on the Fly Guide Service(907-350-6610) said the river has been extremely crowded. During minimal flow conditions, fly-fishermen find sanctuary in both the catch-and-release and walk-in areas. Midging with black and gold or black and copper midges along with red and copper or even a friend’s favorite root beer and gold sizes 16 and 18 is working extremely well. Also, a very special hand tied favorite the Anna Kay is a real producer.  The Anna Kay is a minimal material soft hackle.  They come in every color under the sun and they are the go-to sweeper, successfully catching fish all day. Spin-cast or bait fishermen are doing well on Panther Martin spinners dressed in black, gold and yellow. Small Rapalas in rainbow, brown, black/silver and gold/black work extremely well. All live baits work well; redworms, frozen shad and meal worms on a size 8 Aberdeen hook work well. All this bait is sold at the Bull Shoals Boat Dock.
(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 4-1-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is up and down with 2 to 5 generators running every day. Bait fishermen are doing well on shrimp and yellow/orange PowerBait. Rooster Tails, small crankbaits and other spinners are working well on brown trout during lower water.

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 557.88 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(Updated 4-1-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said surface water temperature is in the low 50s. Last week's cold front slowed the night bite down, but it has slowly improved. The morning bite is still slow. We did manage to get one nice striper on a soft jerkbait. Bass were hitting suspending jerkbaits, jigs and crankbaits.
(Updated 4-1-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said last week started with sunshine and ended with rain and snow. In between the stripers started to feed during the day and continued to feed at night. What started the week off as the beginning of a strong spring bite quickly ended. This next week we should see 70-degree weather, stained water, and south winds, a great combination for the spring bite. The crappie bite was strong and again with the rising water they have moved deeper. Once the lake crests you should see them moving back shallow. The white bass and walleye also started their run up in the lower creeks and then in Udall. Until the river current slows down that bite will be very slow.
(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.

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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