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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 30, 2016

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock YouTube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report for March 30, 2016.
Bull Shoals
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 658.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(updated 3-23-2016) K Dock Marina (417-334-2880) said the water temperature is 50 to 55 degrees and the water is stained. Black bass are biting well in the 10 to 15 foot range. Try jigs, jerk baits and pearl-colored swim baits and flukes. Wiggle Warts and spinnerbaits are working well on breezy days. Crappie are slow but improving on live minnows and small soft plastics. They are not on the banks yet, so concentrate on brush and trees in 10 to 15 feet of water. Walleye are slow, but a few can be caught on crankbaits and night crawlers. White bass are slow right now.
(updated 3-30-2016) Bull Shoals Boat Dock said fishing is still good. Walleye are still up spawning in the bushes. A jerk bait fished along flats with bushes and gravel bottom should work well. White bass are still in the backs of some creeks. Small jerk baits, grubs and Alabama rigs are working well, just keep the lure white. Black bass are biting very well right now, but you have to work with the conditions. There’s been some strong wind. Early in the morning, there’s a shad bite going on, but throughout the day, you can do well on Fish Head Spins, tubes, Brush Hogs and spinnerbaits. Look for deep water near the spawning pockets to find the fish. 

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 3-30-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water clarity is good, but it’s been very green lately. Two generators were running this morning, and the water is at its lowest since Christmas. Trout fishing is excellent on frozen shad, jigs and stickbaits. Many anglers are reporting some of the best brown trout fishing they’ve had in decades this month.
(updated 3-30-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the hot spot has been the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. The 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 (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sow bugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (my current favorite is a hot fluorescent pink or cerise San Juan worm with a hare-and-copper suspended below it). The best bet for large trout has been to bang the bank with large articulated streamers delivered with heavy 24- to 30- foot sink tip lines (350 grains or heavier). You will need an 8 or 9 weight rod. This is heavy work but the rewards can be great.

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.70 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(updated 3-30-2016) Guide Steve Olomon ssaid the water temperature is in the low to mid-50s. There were a few bass coming up chasing shad early that would hit a Zara Spook Jr. or a jerk bait. It will get better when the water warms a little more. They were also hitting a 4-inch swim bait reeled very slowly. The stripers, hybrids and a few walleye are hitting stick baits at night. The bite starts right at dark. They have been caught all over the lake, just remember to reel your lure slowly.
(updated 3-16-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said surface water temperature has been 55 to 58 degrees the last few days. Stripers have moved all the way up the creeks and are being caught on live bait and Rattling Rogues. I heard one report of stripers busting shad in Panther Creek in the evenings. Stripers are shallow in the mornings and evenings. If you're using live bait, set your lines 20 feet behind your floats and run your planner boards next to shore. Norfork is in prime condition to have an awesome March, both day and night. We are seeing a good top water and night bite for the rest of this month and into April. This is going to be an incredible spring for you early bird anglers. A good tool to use to make your plans with is on the web at for everything Norfork Lake! Be sure to check out the spring striper tactics article.
(updated 3-2-2016) Larry Olson of Hand Cove Resort said the night bite for stripers has been very good. Last night Larry boated 15 fish by 2 a.m., two hybrids and the rest being stripers. All fish were under 15 pounds, but they were aggressive and striking a Smithwick Rogue. All were caught east of the dam in the main Big Creek area. Surface water temperature is in the 50s. Last night was a good night. By 2 AM I boated 15 fish, 2 hybrids and 13 stripers the largest being about 15 pounds. They were all pretty aggressive, all but one took my Rogue in the mouth. All were caught east of the dam in the main Big Creek areas. The water temperature was in the 50s.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 3-30-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Norfork Tailwater had no wadable water last week. The water has been off color, but clarity has improved significantly. 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. My favorite combination has been a cerise worm with a Sunday special dropper. Dry Run Creek has seen more pressure with spring break. It is still a bit off-color, but fished well. There is another phase of the project to repair the Norfork National Fish Hatchery going on. Access to the creek is not impaired. The hot flies have been sow bugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10).