The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

May 13, 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 665.98 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(Updated 4-29-2015) Bull Shoals Boat Dock said most of the shoreline has brush in the water. The water temperatures are in the low 60s. Bass have moved to the beds. Spotted bass are bedding as deep as 5 to 10 feet of water. Jerk baits are working well out in 10 to 15 feet of water outside the brush. Jigs fished in 5 to 15 feet of water crawled along bluffs and rocks are working as well. White bass are back in the creeks, and some good limits have come in lately. Use small white jigs, spoons and crankbaits for the best results on the white bass. Walleye fishing has been very good on deep-diving crankbaits trolled  on leadcore line about 30 to 50 feet deep in 40 to 100 feet of water. There is very limited success on walleye in shallow water right now. Crappie anglers are being a bit tight-lipped, but the few that are willing to share information are catching their fish in 20 feet of water around brush on small minnows, spoons and 1/32 oz. to 1/64 oz. jigs if you can find the days when the wind will let you fish that light.
(Updated 5-13-2015) Ken Minsky of Ken Minksy's Loch Leven Guide Service said Bull Shoals is fishing well. The surface water temperature near Point 24 is in the low 70s, and the lake is rising due to the recent rains. Shoreline brush is covered to the depth of about 14 feet.  Surface baits fished through the brush will produce both largemouth and spotted bass. Make sure to also cast to the deeper water as bass are also holding in the middle of the fingers and will rise to surface baits. Smallmouths seem to be holding out in the deeper water on main lake points and secondary points, with most action coming from 18 to 22 feet deep on jigs. Walleye are biting well on trolled crankbaits that dive to the 10- to 18-foot level, fished just outside the submerged buckbrush. Soft secondary points are also producing fish on crankbaits and jigs fished over 40 feet of water and casting to the shoreline. Crappie remain scarce with only incidental catches coming in, however bluegills are starting to show up on soft secondary points from depths of 12 to 22 feet. Trotlines are doing well catfish on both the main lake and creek arms.  Small bluegills work well but stinkbait also is producing.
(Updated 4-29-2015) Steve Curtis at S&S; Guide Service (870-740-1140) had no report.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 5-13-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said about four to six generators are running, so drift fishing is the way to go right now. Shrimp and worms are taking a few rainbows. Brown trout will bite better on Rooster Tails and other artificial lures.
(Updated 5-13-2015) Paul Bobby at GI on the Fly Guide Service (907-350-6610) said heavy rain fall has muddied up the White River. The mud and debris line mixes around the end of Cane Island, so it’s much worse farther down river. Be thankful it clears up quickly. Bait fishing shad during rising water conditions will catch brown trout and a redworm or nightcrawler can be very productive as well. During high water, use a 1/8-oz. bell sinker three feet above your size 4 Aberdeen hook. This presentation will have minimal contact with the bottom both with shad or worm, so you can feel the take, not the bottom. As always, boat speed during the drift is paramount.  Fly-fishing during muddy water conditions can be challenging as always. If you simply fish large nymphs tied with tungsten beads above San Juan worms, both rainbow and brown trout will jump on them.  You might have to monkey around with worm color and size as well as tying different nymphs with different beads or even large midges dressed in black with copper wire and copper bead above your dropper.
(Updated 5-6-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said there’s been heavy generation on the White River, with very limited wadable water. Due to recent rains, all of the lakes on this system are well above seasonal power pool and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is aggressively releasing water to draw the lake levels down to power pool. On heavy generation, the best way to catch fish is to switch to longer leaders and heavier weight. On the White, the hot spot was the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (sizes 8 to 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14 to 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead (sizes 16 to18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 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). There have been several reliable sightings of caddis hatching. This is our major hatch of the year. They are size 14 and are easy to see. Before the hatch, you should concentrate on fishing prince nymphs. When the trout key on the top but no insects are present, switch over to my green butt. When you observe trout taking adult insects from the top of the water column, you should switch over to elk hair caddis dry flies.

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 558.95 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(Updated 4-29-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said the lake level is up about a half foot from last week and the water temperature has dropped a few degrees into the low-to mid-60s. The main lake is clear and the creeks are starting to clear. Some stripers and hybrids are coming up early chasing baitfish. We have been throwing jointed Redfins to them. The will also hit a Zara Spook and a swimbait. They come up better if the water is slick with little or no wind. If they aren't coming up, I throw a 4-inch swimbait and reel it slowly. They are hitting live bait as well. The night bite seems to get a little later these past few nights. Throw a stickbait to the bank and retrieve it very slowly. You can also pick up some walleye. Some bass are coming up as well along with a few whites hitting Spooks and swim baits. There are a few coming up just before dark back in the creeks.
(Updated 4-29-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Unstable weather patterns continue to wreak havoc on the fish. Each time we get the warm southern winds and a warming trend, the weather changes and drives the fish and bait from the shallows. The water is clear on the main lake and creeks are off color, the creeks continue to be the warmest water on the lake. Some stripers and hybrids are starting to bite on top at first light, however if there is any type of wind the fish seem to shut down. Also if its an east wind they will shut down totally. The main lake water temperature has dropped to the low-60s and the creeks are in the high 60s. The bait continues to move in and out of the shallows. We need a strong warming trend to bring the bait in to spawn. The crappie are being caught on deeper brush piles and in open water trolling jigs and minnows. Most of the crappie are not in the shallows. I have been watching the crappie guides fish the shallow brush and not many fish are being caught. Stay in deep water. One trick I use to use was to troll a minnow tipped white 1/8-oz. Road Runner over the brush piles in East Pigeon, Pigeon, and Brushy and Big Creek with great success. This works best when the crappie are staging to spawn
(Updated 4-29-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said fishing continues to be very strong. The striped bass bite has been very good in the morning and the bite is still happening after dark. The bite starts as early 5:45 a.m., and the best lures have been trolled 5-inch swim baits with a 1/4 ounce jigheads. Most of my fish have been found on shallow flats in about 20 feet of water, but the fish are coming up for it. Topwater action started about a week ago and I got really excited, but several cool fronts rolled though that all but shut down the topwater action. I do expect it to take off again once we start getting some consistently warmer days. With this being said, always be ready with a topwater bait because the top water eruptions could happen at any time. Look for stripers off of points part way back into creeks and if there is a flat area close by, check it out for feeding fish. Once the sun comes up the fish seem to move out into deeper water. I am finding scattered fish along deep bluff lines later in the morning. The largemouth and spotted bass bite continues to be strong. You will find these species up tight on the banks early in the morning and then they will move off of the banks to 15 to 30 feet of water during sunny days. Topwater baits are working, as are small crank baits and plastics. I threw a tube jig and a jig and pig a few days ago and landed some nice fish. I have been marking plenty of bass suspended close to the deep bluff lines. Rattle traps are a great bait to get these suspended fish. Smallmouth bass are starting to show up in 15 to 20 feet of water. Grubs and jigs are a great way to fish for this species. The big white bass are starting to show up in the mid creek areas. Similar locations as the striped bass. They are also hitting similar baits. Once you find the whites you might want to try to cast out a blade type bait such as a Kastmaster and let it sink down to their depth then retrieve slowly. If you find these fish on the bottom you can vertical jig this bait, it is very effective.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 4-22-2015) Brad Smith at Arkansas Headhunters (479-283-8490) had no report.(Updated 5-6-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Norfork has seen heavy generation with little wadable water, but has fished a little better recently. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18 to 22)  like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 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 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). 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 5-13-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are muddy, high and pretty much unfishable.

Crooked Creek

(Updated 5-13-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are muddy, high and pretty much unfishable. 

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