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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 20, 2016

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Below is the ArkansasGame and Fish Fishing Report April 20, 2016.
Bull Shoals
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 658.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(updated 4-13-2016) K Dock Marina (417-334-2880) said the surface water temperature is 54 to 57 degrees and the water is stained to clear. The bite is beginning to pick up around the K Dock area. Some good numbers of crappie are coming in. Anglers are using live minnows and Bobby Garland Swimming Minnows fished in 8 to 10 feet of water near timber and brush piles. The fish are not up on the banks, but that may change with some good days and nights of warm weather. White bass seem to be in the Beaver Creek arm of the lake. There aren’t many whites surface feeding on shad around the flats near K Dock. Walleye are slow on night crawlers and small crankbaits. Many short fish are being caught. The action is better up in the Power Site Dam area. Largemouth bass are biting well on Wiggle Warts, Alabama rigs and spinnerbaits. They also are being caught pretty regularly on finesse jigs and shaky head worms. They still haven’t moved out of prespawn patterns completely.
(updated 4-13-2016) Bull Shoals Boat Dock said said the water is in the low to mid-50s. Visibility is good around most of the lake out of the wind. Walleye have picked up in the last few days. The fish that have been caught did not have eggs in them, so they are likely finished spawning and are beginning to feed up and move off the banks for summer. Mnay crappie have been caught in the last week on 1/8- to 1/64-oz. jigs fishing along the banks in 8 to 15 feet of water. They are in the pre-spawn to spawning stage right now. Some bass are staged up in main lake pockets, but the larger creek arms and spawning flats on the sides of those creeks have been the best bet. Smallmouth are spawning, and a grub, hair jig or Carolina rig will work very well for them over rocky and gravelly points. Wherever you have some clay on the bank causing a small mudline is a good place to throw a Wiggle Wart or Storm Rock Crawler crankbait. 

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 4-20-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is full of moss and the generators are rolling at nine to 10 strong. Trout fishing has been excellent on PowerBait, pink worms and stickbaits. 

(updated 4-13-2016) Cotter Trout Dock said river levels for the past week have been generally in the one- to three-generator (fairly low) range. Each guide has their own preference for what works best for them, but they have mostly been taking out Power Bait and shrimp for rainbow trout. Lures, minnows and sculpin have been the best bet for brown trout. Weather has been cool in the mornings and warming up beautifully.

(updated 4-6-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said last week, the White River saw moderate generation with no wadable water. The bite has been a bit slow. 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 sowbugs (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). It is time for the big caddis hatch, which usually provides the best dry fly fishing of the year. I have observed a few caddis on the White and have had a report of a decent hatch at Rim Shoals. These are decent-sized flies, about size 14. Before the hatch, fish prince nymphs. When you see top-water activity but no insects, switch to a green butt or a partridge and orange. When you see trout taking adults from the top, switch over to an elk hair caddis. 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 552.89 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(updated 4-13-2016) Guide Steve Olomon said the surface water temperature is in the mid-50s to upper 50s back in the creeks. Look for the stripers in the major creeks. Find baitfish and the stripers will be close. There are a lot of them suspended 15-25 feet deep. They haven’t started coming up chasing baitfish. When the nights get a bit warmer, the bite will only get better. The night bite has been good throwing Rouges to the bank after dark. There were some big ones caught this past week. One in the 30-lb. range. There are some walleye being caught as well on the same banks as the stripers. Look on flats but don’t forget to look on some steeper banks. Remember to reel your bait slowly. Bass are hitting crankbaits in 5 to 15 feet of water. The jig is also a good bet. The whites are up in the creeks also and some were caught on a swimbait. There are a few small fish coming up the bite but doesn’t last very long.
(updated 4-13-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said last week was a week of disappointment. Everybody always asks when in spring is the best fishing. Many will say April 15, but I think most people jump the gun and try to book in mid-April. This week is a good example of jumping the gun. I fished every day and started the week catching multiple limits of stripers; then the cold weather started along with winds hitting over 30 mph on multiple days. I averaged 1 striper per day and on Saturday we had no bites at all. You would think having 9 fishing poles baited with the best shad would produce at least a bass but no such luck. I have been fishing both Big Creek and Bennett’s Bayou thinking the fish have moved up the creeks, but they have not. The night bite is going strong and fish are being caught on the main lake points. I took a look at my fishing calendars for the last eight years and they all say I should be fishing the main lake over brush piles and river channels. I switched today and caught a fat 9-lb. hybrid and 10-lb. striper, so until we can get consistent weather I’m sticking to the main lake.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 4-6-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Norfork Tailwater saw some wadable water last week, but it fished very poorly. 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.