The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

April 8, 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 667.03 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 4-8-2015) Steve Curtis at S&S; Guide Service (870-740-1140) said the lake is still on the rise, but the water temperature is holing in the mid- to upper 50s. The crappie have pulled back and once the lake levels off they should move back shallow. They are still catching a few nice ones on 1/64 oz. jigs in the middle of Howard Creek. Bass fishing is still red hot and getting hotter. Most are coming on stick baits and Wiggle Warts around the Oakland area. They are starting to move up into staging areas at the end of bluffs and around secondary points. We landed a few nice smallies within sight of the dam on 1/2 oz. football jigs.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 4-8-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is high with 4 to 5 generators running. Rainbow trout fishing is slow with the high water, but brown trout are biting well on artificials and streamers.
(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).

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 558.99 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(Updated 4-8-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said surface water temperature is in the low to mid 50s. The main lake is clear and stained the futher back in the creeks you go. There were a few fish starting to come up until the cold front came through. The striper bite is still a little better at night than in the day. We still need stable weather and some south winds. There were a few walleye hitting stickbaits at night. Bass are hitting suspended jerkbaits, Alabama rigs, swimbaits and jigs. With the water coming up last week it moved the crappie off the banks into the brushpiles until the lake level gets stable and warms up some more.
(Updated 4-8-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said The morning, afternoon, and evening striper bite has started all over Norfork Lake. Heavy rains and cold weather has caused most other species to move back from the shallows. White bass and small hybrids are schooled off the points halfway up the creeks. The water is stained with lots of debris coming out of the creeks. The water temperature has stayed in the mid-50s. Once we have consistent warm weather and sunshine the entire lake will explode with all species. There is a topwater bite up the creeks beginning right now. The largemouths are small, but the bigger fish will start feeding when the weather turns. The crappie will start spawning in the next few days. The water level has partially covered the buckbrush and the crappie will be spawning on the structure. Once the water level stabilizes, crappie, walleye, and white bass will be spawning in the creeks and upper river. April looks like it’s going to be a great month to catch stripers. The water visibility is stained in the creeks and off color in the main channels. These make for excellent fishing conditions.
(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 4-8-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said striped bass are still biting after dark and the bite during the day is heating up. Trollers are catching fish on swimbaits and live bait fishermen are catching on live threadfin and gizzard shad. The best areas to look for stripers at this time is back into the major and secondary creeks in all parts of the lake. Go part way back and start fishing. As the water continues to warm the fish will start to migrate farther back. I have been using suspending stick baits after dark, but they are also a great bait to use in the mornings and evenings. There really has not been a top water bite yet, but if the fish are in the area they will come up for a Spook. This year I have seen more stripers caught in the upper 20 and low 30 pound range. Bass fishing has been good. The best bite has been for spotted bass, and then largemouth. Smallmouth bass are starting to show up. Very soon smallmouth fishing will be fantastic. I have been bass fishing about an hour or so before I head to my night bite spots. I have found that I get more strikes fishing a topwater Spook when I walk-the-dog several times then stop the action. The fish seem to attack the bait when it is motionless. Again Kastmasters, spooks, flukes and swim baits are producing some nice fish in the morning and afternoon. Midday go with baits worked along the bottom starting at the shore line though about 20 feet of water. Best areas are part way back in creeks and coves. White bass are showing up in similar locations as the black bass and stripers. The same baits talked about for stripers and bass will also catch you big numbers of whites. The whites will also be in very shallow water on flat type areas. Crappie fishing started out with a bang about a week ago, but has slowed somewhat. With the warm days ahead of us start looking back to shallow water. Walleye are starting to show up in greater numbers. Walleye are being caught on suspending jerkbaits after dark fishing for stripers as well blade baits during the day. The surface water temperature is in the mid to upper 50s. The main lake is clear and the creeks and coves are stained.

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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