The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

May 3, 2015

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

Click images to enlarge.















Above is 14.5 pound brown.
Caught and released
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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 675.14 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).

(Updated 6-3-2015) Ken Minsky of Ken Minksy's Loch Leven Guide Service said said Bull Shoals is again on the rise. The surface water temperature is around 75 degrees near Point 24, and the water clarity pretty dingy in the back of the creek arms. There also is plenty of debris and logs floating around, so be careful boating in low-light conditions. Shoreline brush is covered to the depth of about 20 feet, making it difficult to fish with sub-surface baits anywhere near the shoreline.  However, surface baits like Spooks as well as un-weighted and underweighted flukes are producing bass. Low-stretch, abrasion-resistant lines are the order of the day to enable you turn the fish quick and keep them from diving into the submerged tangles. Main lake points and deeper flats are much easier to fish and are producing smallmouths and white bass during the low-light periods of dawn and dusk. Try bottom-bouncing jigs and Carolina-rigged soft plastics on the points that are clear of brush. For the flats, use a spread of trolled crankbaits that cover the whole water column, from depths of 6 feet down to about 15 feet.  Fish roaming the flats could be just about anywhere so zig-zag the spread over depths of 20 to 50 feet. Larger creek arms are producing nice catches of walleyes. Trolling crankbaits that dive to 12 to 16 feet are doing well just outside of the submerged brush. Bream are showing up in the usual spawning areas on main lake cuts and soft secondary points in depths of about 20 feet. Fishing the edge of the brush without getting hung up is pretty tricky business, so plan on losing a few baits and hooks. Catfishing is good on trotlines with nice catches coming from the creek arms. Just about any bait will work, bluegills are always my first choice. However, stink baits and even hot dogs are working well on channel cats.

(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.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 6-3-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water clarity is good and the water is at normal levels, despite the high water in the lake. Rainbow trout are biting very well on small spinners and Power Baits.

(Updated 5-27-2015) Paul Bobby at GI on the Fly Guide Service (907-350-6610) said there’s fish everywhere.  Large amounts of trout can be found from the dam below Bull Shoals Lake to Cotter and beyond. Fly-fishermen have had great success fishing zebra midges of all colors and sizes dressed in many bead and wire combinations. Stimulator or hopper patterns presented properly will get a look from large brown trout. On occasion, it’ll eat and the game is on. Evening soft hackles put lots of fish on line. Try an Anna Kay.  They come tied in many different color combinations.  Swing’em into rising fish and you’ll find a new and productive method to catching rising trout.  As evening approaches, large streamers or mouse patterns can be productive. I like to say that if you’re not in a boat, it can be the land of a hundred casts, but when a big fish eats it’s an absolute rush.  My advice for the bait fishermen is simple. Anything and everything will catch trout this time of year.

(Updated 5-22-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said on the White, we had moderate generation with no wadable water. 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 (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 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 fourteen and 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 561.97 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).

(Updated 6-3-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said the water temp is in the mid 70s. We are still having some stripers and hybrids coming up early chasing shad to the surface. It won’t last to much longer as the water is getting too warm. Throw a Zara Spook, soft jerk bait or a wake bait like a Redfin. They will also hit a swim bait. There are suspended fish down 20 to 40 feet deep. Use either live shad or drop a jigging spoon to just above them. Some whites are coming up and will hit these baits as well as all three bass species. As for bass throw a soft jerk bait up along the flooded brush. You also can throw a jig up along the brush and try a shallow-running crankbait or spinnerbait. A floating worm will get you some action, too. We’ve been catching them mostly in Big Creek and Brushy Creek. There are still fish up lake doing the same as on the lower end.

(Updated 6-3-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the rain has continued causing Norfork Lake to rise. Stripers are biting all over the lake. The fish are being caught on top, just under the surface and deep. Spoons, topwater plugs, swim baits, shiners, and shad are all catching stripers right now. This will not last long, as the water warms up, the fish will complete their transition to deep water staying below the thermocline. Now is the time to get on water or if you do not have boat, hire one of guides on the lake to take you out for an action-packed morning of catching stripers. I continue to fish the lower end of the lake in the Big Creek area about a mile either side of the entrance to Hand Cove most of the week.

(Updated 5-27-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said fishing has been outstanding the last couple of weeks. All species are biting well. With the weather changes and the slow rise of the lake the fish are constantly on the move. The fish are moving out to the main lake area. Of course this may change if we receive more rain and the lake starts to rise more quickly. You will find stripers on top as well as down 20 to 40 feet deep. Topwater baits and swim baits are working the best. Stripers are all over the lake, and trolling a swim bait with a 1-ounce jig head is working well. Look at main lake points with deep water nearby. The largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass bite is at its best. Live bait and artificial baits are both working well. Topwater action happens most mornings and evenings, but sometimes not for a long period of time. Once they go down, try throwing a 3- to 4-inch swim bait. You can also work the bottom with plastics from 10 to 25 feet down. The bigger smallmouth are in 15 to 25 feet of water on secondary points in the creeks and off of deep bluff lines. The white bass bite has been sporadic. One day many are caught and the next day they are gone or not feeding. Focus on main lake points. Panfishing is improving. Bluegills can be found up on the banks, but the bigger ones are still about 20 feet deep off bluff lines. Find a small cut in the bluff and get up close and fish straight down. Use crickets, worms or niblets. Crappies have moved out to the brush in 15 to 30 feet of water. They are biting best on live crappie minnows. Crappie at my dock have been going nuts over the last week with many 13- to 16-inch fish being caught. Catfishing is also good in the coves and creeks. Nightcrawlers and small bluegills are a great bait. Jugs, trotlines and rod and reel are all working.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 5-22-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Norfork has fished better 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 (sizes 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. My favorite combination has been a grasshopper with a root beer or ruby midge dropper.There is a major construction project at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery and the walkway between the two sets of stairs to the creek is closed. You can still access the creek by walking the trail beside it. 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 5-22-2015) 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 5-22-2015) 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.


Cotter Trout Dock, 321 Big Spring Pkwy pob 96, Cotter, AR  72626 To ensure you receive our monthly newsletter, make sure you add ctd@southshore.com to your address book. If you prefer not to receive future email from Cotter Trout Dock, please unsubscribe here.