The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

April 15, 2015

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Some photos of our guided trout fishing customers
taken this week 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 667.44 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(Updated 4-15-2015) Ken Minsky of Ken Minksy's Loch Leven Guide Service said the main lake temperature in the mid-lake area is 57 degrees, and has not come up much, if at all over the last two weeks. Overall fishing is good. During the warming trend, fish charged up into shallow water and were pretty aggressive, but they have since moved back out to the first drop to deeper water. White bass are all but done spawning, and the suckers have moved into the creeks to spawn.  Walleyes are also done spawning and are moving out toward the main lake again. Expect to find them in 15 to 20 feet of water along the creek banks.  Trolling crankbaits is still possible at those depths as the water is only covering the brush to about the 12 to 14 foot level. I’m not seeing many largemouths yet, but I suspect they will be getting a bit more active in the next couple of weeks.  Smallmouths and spotted bass are providing the most consistent action, but you’ll have to work for them too.  I’m finding them along the banks and soft secondary points in the creek arms.  Look for the warmest water and concentrate on the banks with south- facing slopes.  Small jigs have been working best the last few days, and I would stick to a low and slow presentation until the rain stops and the water warms up again. Bluegills have started to make a showing, small ones have moved along the banks and under docks.  The larger ones remain in at least 18 feet of water. A few crappies are coming to the net, but it’s been incidental catches for me.  I’ve not seen or heard that they have made a major move to the shallows yet. Bow fishing for carp and gar is hit and miss, at least during the day.  I saw lots of smaller size gar and a few carp on the flats up Shoal Creek the other day.  The flooded flats on East Sugar Loaf Creek were also full of carp after dark.
(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 4-15-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said four generators are running, so there's quite a bit of flow. Fishing is fair to good for both rainbows and brown trout.
(Updated 4-15-2015) Paul Bobby at GI on the Fly Guide Service (907-350-6610) said fly-fishing the White River below Bull Shoals Dam has been tough, but once you locate runs of trout your day will be very rewarding. The past two weeks I have noticed large numbers of rainbow, cutthroat and the occasional brookie finding sanctuary in grassy river banks, along both sides of island banks and shoals where you can see submerged grass. Fishing sow bugs with San Juan worm droppers really catches fish. Trust your indicator; if it flickers, submerges or moves, do not hesitate to set the hook. Below Wildcat Shoals caddis are beginning to emerge, so the dry fly bite is starting. Bait fishing and spincast is still the most popular approach to catch trout. Drifting shad and crawlers or Power Worms of every color tipped with shrimp will keep the rod bent and fish in the net. Big brown trout are still ready to eat.
(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 4-15-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the White has seen heavy generation with no wadable water. The water level for the top of power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to recent rains, all of the lakes on this system are well above seasonal power pool and the Corps of Engineers is aggressively releasing water to draw the lake levels down to power pool. I do not foresee wadable water in the near future. On heavy generation, the best way to catch fish is to switch to longer leaders and heavier weight. The hot spot was the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. Hot flies were olive woolly buggers (size 8-10), Y2Ks (size 12-14), 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 (szie 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (try a prince nymph with a ruby midge or root beer midge suspended below it).

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 4-15-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said the weather is warming up and so is the fishing. The water temp is in the upper 50s in the main lake and the water is clear. In the creeks the water temperature is in the low 60s and the water is stained about halfway back. The stripers are hitting live bait, soft jerkbaits and swimbaits during the day. At night throw a stickbait up to the bank and retrieve it real slow. The bite starts at dark. The color doesn't seem to make a difference. Some walleye are up shallow at night and are hitting stickbaits also. Look along flats and don't overlook some steeper banks as well. Bass are coming up chasing baitfish early and just before dark. Look back in the creeks for surface activity. Throw a Zara Spook Jr., soft jerk bait or shallow-running minnow-type bait. Also try a swimbait. Some guys are throwing the Alabama rig. There are some whites coming up in the same areas and will take the same baits.
(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 4-15-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said one of the generators is down for routine maintenance. In an effort to draw the lake down, the Corps of Engineers is releasing additional water through the flood gates. The total release is approximately 6,000 cubic feet per second which is near maximum release through the generators. The Norfork has fished poorly recently. 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.

Buffalo River

(Updated 4-15-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are stained and high. With the weather warming, the smallmouths should be active soon. 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 4-15-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are stained and high. With the weather warming, the smallmouths should be active soon. 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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