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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 11, 2016

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 11, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(updated 5-4-2016) K Dock Marina (417-334-2880) said the surface water temperature is 63 to 65 degrees degrees and the water is stained to clear. Crappie, walleye and black bass are all biting extremely well around K Dock lately. Bass are biting best on shaky head finesse worms, spinnerbaits and Zoom Baby Brush Hogs fished around buckbrush in coves and around points with small gravel on the bank. Cast right up to the bank and fish back out. Crappie are biting very well on live minnows in the coves. Some really nice crappie are being caught and if you find the right tree, you can load the boat quickly. Late afternoon has been the best time to fish lately. Walleye are biting well on small crankbaits, such as Berkley Flicker Shad in sizes 6 and 7. Troll shallow in 10 to 15 feet of water near points and rock bluffs.
(updated 5-4-2016) Bull Shoals Boat Dock said fishing continues to be very good. Many bass are still on the beds around the marina. There is lots of catching going on. The walleye seem to have moved out a little into 10 to 15 feet of water. They usually do this when they are done spawning. Anglers are still catching a few around dark, but they seem to be in that transition period. Some white bass and crappie are being caught, but the bass fishing is so good most people are concentrating on them.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 5-11-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river level was low with a lot of moss. Fishing for rainbow trout was fair, but overall it was slow.

(updated 5-11-2016) Cotter Trout Dock said the best bait this past week for browns was sculpin (although a couple were brought in with power bait). Bright, white baits worked well (think white zig jigs or Maribou jigs) when the moss was at its worst. Conditions are improving and the catch of rainbows is increasing using shrimp and florescent power baits and egg patterns. With the recent rain event, turn to worms as your first choice and, until the water clears, a darker bait. 

(updated 5-11-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424)said his area experienced an inch and a half of rain last week, warm temperatures and heavy wind. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.6 feet to rest at 2.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 660.6 feet msl, or 36.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.2 feet to rest at 0.2 of a foot below seasonal power pool and 8.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes on this system are currently at or below seasonable power pool, meaning lower levels of generation on tailwaters with limited wadable water. The White River saw moderate generation last week with some wadable water, but the bite was a bit slow. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 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 (Berry’s current favorite is a hot fluorescent pink or cerise San Juan worm with a hare and copper suspended below it). The caddis hatch going on now usually provides the best dry fly fishing of the year. While Berry has observed a few caddis on the White, he’s heard reports of a spectacular hatch at Wildcat Shoals. The best bet for large trout has been to bang the bank with large articulated streamers delivered with heavy 24-30-foot sink tips (350 grains or heavier) with an 8 or 9 weight rod.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.26 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(updated 5-11-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said said fishing has been great over the last week. It has stayed fairly consistent, but the fish are starting to move around some. One day they are on the west side of the lake then the next they may be on the east side. Scan areas with your fish finder, and when you start to see some bait, stop and fish. All fish species seem to be relating to points, whether a shallow long point or a deep bluff line point. Striped bass fishing has been outstanding, moving from the deep bluff line side of the lake to the shallow sloping bank side of the lake. There has been good topwater action in early mornings, and a Zara Spook is working well. Other good artificial baits are a silver Kastmaster with bucktail, rattle traps, Rooster Tails and swimbaits. Live thread fin shad has also been an outstanding bait and it really has not mattered what size the live bait is, he has caught stripers on 3-inch baits up to 6-inch baits. Look for stripers in very shallow water starting just before sunrise. Anglers are finding them in 5-40 feet of water and the fish are near the surface. As the sun comes up, go out to deeper water and look for the fish to be suspended 20-30 feet down. White bass fishing is also becoming very good. Topwater has worked early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Whites have been in the same location as the stripers, but also on occasion in very deep water chasing shad on the surface. The same type baits for stripers are working for whites. Walleye fishing is picking up and in the same areas as the stripers and whites in the early mornings. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing is also very good. They are chasing shad in the same areas as the stripers and can be caught on similar type of baits. As the sun comes up, start using some sort of plastic bait worked slowly along the bottom. Pan fishing has also been good. Look for bluegills along bluff line cuts in 20-30 feet of water. Wax worms and earthworms are working great. Crappie have moved onto the brush. Look for brush in 20-30 feet of water and the fish are hanging around the tops. Use small grubs tipped with minnows or just minnows. Norfork Lake level is falling slowly with constant generation. The surface water temperature was 68-70 degrees on May 11. The creeks and coves are stained and the main lake is clearing.
(updated 5-11-2016) Guide Steve Olomon said stripers are still coming up early and just before dark and only last for about an hour. This should last till the end of the month, then the water will be too warm and they will start to go deeper. Olomon likes to throw a Zara Spook, or you can use a jointed red fin, soft jerk bait or try a swim bait. The night bite is over for the stripers. The water temperature is too warm. There are some bass and whites coming up early and also in the evening. Bass are also hitting jigs, swim baits, Texas rig worm and drop shot rigs. The shad are done spawning and the fish have moved out off the banks. There are still some walleye hitting stick baits at night but that has also been a slow bite. It's best to fish where the wind is blowing in on the bank or in a cove, but check the points with deep water close by.
(updated 5-11-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the bite continues to be inconsistent. One day the stripers are feeding heavy and surfacing all around you, and the next they are totally inactive. The lower portion of the lake seems to have less surface action then the mid-lake and above. The threadfin shad continue to spawn but not every night. The first spawn of the year is about over. The stripers are feeding on 2- and 3-inch threadfin shad; white bass and crappie are also feeding heavy on the small shad. Reynolds has been fishing the main lake points near the dam with some limited success, and also has seen great action but hookups have been less than 50 percent. The first-time striper client most times has a hard time setting the hook on the fish when free-lining the bait. The bait is usually 50 feet behind the boat and the stretch of the line causes many misses, plus trying to set the hook before the striper has really taken the bait. He’s using gizzard shad ranging from 4-8 inches and it takes some effort for the striper to get the bait and hook in its mouth, therefore a lot of patience is required to let the striper run with the bait before trying to set the hook. Some walleye are being caught trolling stick baits in 10-20 feet of water at night. Lots of crappie are being caught in the Bennett’s Bayou slow-trolling live minnows and using spider rigs.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 5-11-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake rose 0.3 of a foot to rest at 1.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.61 feet msl and 27.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The tailwater had some some wadable water. The  water has cleared to somewhat stained and has fished better. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 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, Berry’s favorite. 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. Dry Run Creek has cleared some and fished well. There is on ongoing repair project at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery, but the creek is accessible. 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 National River

(updated 5-4-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the river is navigable, and warm weather has made the smallmouths active.

Crooked Creek

(updated 5-4-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the creek is navigable and smallmouths are more active as the weather has warmed. Watch for sudden flooding during rain events such as the mass of rainfall that hit the state last weekend.