Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 18, 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 18, 2016.
White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 5-18-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water remained very mossy like the previous week with no fishing. The river level is high.
(updated 5-18-2016) Cotter Trout Dock said the catch is increasing with the disappearance of the moss. Successful catches have been made using a combination of shrimp and chartreuse and/or orange power bait. Several nice keeper cutthroats have been seen, caught and released between Cotter and Ranchette. Again, the go-to bait for large fish, both browns and rainbows, was the sculpin. Water level remains very low, great for fishing, but stay alert for protruding rocks and snags; prop damage is expensive.
(updated 5-18-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that recent rain events totaled 5 inches in Cotter, temperatures rose and heavy winds blew. By late last week the lake level at Bull Shoals had risen a foot to rest at 2.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 661.86 feet. This is 35.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.7 feet to rest at 0.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.3 feet to rest at 0.1 above seasonal power pool and 8.5 feet below the top of flood pool. There was little generation on the White last week, with wadable water every day. The bite, though, has been erratic -- one day is great and the next is slow. The hot flies are 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 (my current favorite is a hot fluorescent pink or cerise San Juan worm with a hare and copper suspended below it). John related that  on Mother’s Day, he and his wife had their best fishing trip in a long time, going to Rim Shoals, a catch-and-release section. They had brought my river boat with us so that we could easily access some of the more productive water. He had been fishing the White quite a bit lately and my client rods were already rigged with a hare and copper nymph with a ruby midge dropper. There was also a split shot to get the flies down and a strike indicator. The only thing they had to do was to adjust the strike indicator down for the lower water level. They landed three fish on the first drift. One of them was a fat 18-inch rainbow that fought like a demon. They kept drifting and caught trout after trout. John hooked a lunker but it wrapped a big rock and broke off. Wife Lori landed their largest fish, a fat rainbow at 19 inches.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.90 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(updated 5-18-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said fishing has been a blast over the last week. Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass fishing have been very good. Fish are up tight on the banks before sunrise and they stick around until the sun gets above the tree line. On a cloudy day they stick around longer. Monday morning led to some of the best topwater action he's seen in a week, fishing in a main lake area on the shallow side of the lake, not the bluff line side. There are a lot of small cuts in the shoreline with points that have brush out in the water. At around 6 a.m. a few fish were coming up out in the main channel. He started to head out but heard splashing behind him and turned around to find the whole shoreline and all the cuts were boiling with fish. Every cast with his Zara spook either had several hits and misses or had a fish, and it went on for 2 hours, landing 20 fish. Topwater action for stripers and hybrids should last until the water temperature warms the lake enough to form a thermocline. Mother nature will have the final say on this. When the stripers leave the shallow water in the morning, start looking out in deeper water and you should find them suspended down to about 30-40 feet deep. Live threadfin shad has been working the best with just a small split shot. Artificial baits also producing fish have been a Kastmaster spoon with buck tail and smaller sized swimbaits 3-4 inches long. Some good white bass topwater action in the late afternoon as well. They could be anywhere from deep to shallow water, but the most consistent spots are partway back in some of the major creeks. Largemouth and spotted bass fishing has also been very good. They have been in the same areas as the stripers early in the morning, but unlike the stripers, they don't necessarily move out once the sun comes up.  Swimbaits, spinnerbaits on windy days and tube jigs are working well. They are moving to the bottom once the sun gets high, so work a jig and pig or your favorite plastic bait along the bottom up to 25 feet down. Walleye fishing has been good on shallow points down 15-25 feet. Anglers have also picked up a few on a Zara spook right on the shoreline before sunrise. No change on pan fishing; both bluegill and crappie are biting. Look for the gills inside of bluff line cuts 20-30 feet deep on the bottom. Worms and wax worms are working great. Crappie are in or around brush and under docks. Small live threadfin shad is the best bait, but a crappie minnow with a small jig is working as well. The lake surface water temperature is holding fairly stable and is ranging from 69 degrees to 71 degrees. The creeks and coves are stained and the main lake is clear on the surface. One generator has been running continuously.
(updated 5-18-2016) Guide Steve Olomon said said the lake level is up to 554 feet msl, which is about a half-foot from last week, and the water temperature is in the upper 60s. Look for stripers chasing baitfish to the surface early and just before dark. The hybrids, whites and bass are also coming up. They will hit a spook, soft jerkbait and a swimbait. Look for this activity on points and in coves where the wind is blowing in or has within the last day. After the topwater is over, try throwing a swimbait and you may pick up an extra striper or hybrid or two. Bass are hitting jerkbaits, jigs and worms. A lot of them are in 5-20 feet depth. Try a shallow-running crankbait, too. For more information on the area and lake go to Lake
(updated 5-18-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the fishing for stripers is in a state of change; there are stripers being caught on topwater, pitching small banks up against the points, long lines with balloons and down lines (lines with 2-3-ounce sinkers fished straight down). Reynolds has been fishing with balloons, long lines with a split shot, and a couple of down lines. By the weekend, he says, he’s now fishing just weighted floats (slip float with a stop 25-30 feet with a 2-ounce sinker and down lines. He has been fishing the lower lake from the dam up to Reynolds Island. The stripers are starting to move into deep water but still shallow 20-35 feet. He’s seen fish being caught all over the lake -- find the bait and wait for the stripers. One odd thing happens when you begin down-line fishing: You will see lots of bait and stripers in and above the bait, but very few bites occur until the sun starts to come up and the shad move deep. The stripers then get real active looking for shad to eat; this time of year you can catch stripers much later in the morning because they are now are in deep water. The stripers have also begun feeding on crawdads, so look for feeding fish on or near the bottom.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 5-18-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said said the water has cleared somewhat and has fished better. Norfork Lake was up 1.6 feet to rest at 2.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 556.61 feet and 25.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had very limited wadable water. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20 and 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 fly has been the green butt. Dry Run Creek has cleared some and fished well. 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). While at the creek, you should visit the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

Buffalo National River

(updated 5-18-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the river is navigable. With the warm weather, the smallmouths are more active. Carefully check the water level. There are no dams, and there are large drainages that are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Crooked Creek

(updated 5-18-2016) 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 recently.