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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 25, 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 25, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.05 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 5-25-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water continues to be mossy, and the trout fishing has been poor.

(updated 5-25-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said it’s been a great week on the White -- the water level is very low and the fish have been snapping at a variety of baits. It's too low for many crankbaits but they’ve had luck with some of the smaller Colorado spoons. No. 1 brown trout bait is still the sculpin, followed by crawdad tails. Since the crawdads are pretty hard to come by, you can try to mimic the white meat with shrimp; try adding some salt and or garlic to your bait. Had a big day today with the black and olive White River Zig Jig and expect to do well with the same in the coming days (especially after the rainfall midweek and predicted showers in the next few days.)  The moss is working its way out of the system but can still tie up a line and frustrate anglers.  Knowing you may encounter some moss will keep tempers from flaring -- remember: The catch is still superb. Fall back on power eggs, try garlic scented and/or glitter colors to create some curiosity in the rainbows. 

(updated 5-18-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) ) said that rain the past week combined for a total of three-quarters of an inch, to combine with warm temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories).The lake level at Bull Shoals rose a foot to rest at 1.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 662 feet. This is 34.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.5 feet to rest at 0.7 feet above seasonal power pool and 15 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at seasonal power pool and 8.6 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had little generation last week with wadable water every day. On the White, the bite has been erratic -- one day is great, the next is slow. During higher levels of generation the river is “dirty” with large amounts of aquatic vegetation suspended in it. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (#8, #10), Y2Ks (#14, #12), prince nymphs (#14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead #16, #18), pheasant tails (#14), ruby midges (#18), root beer midges (#18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (#10), and sowbugs (#16). Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective (my current favorite is a hare and copper (#14) with a ruby midge (#18) suspended below it). The big caddis hatch, which usually provides our best dry fly fishing of the year, is on the wane. Now that John runs Blue Ribbon Fly Shop, he says he seem to have less time to fish on his own or with my wife, Lori. They were both eager to spend another day on the river after having a great time the previous week. The plan was to get to the river about the same time that all of the out-of-town anglers were leaving to head back home, after lunch on Sunday. It was about 72 degrees with a light breeze, sunny and the river was at minimum flow. They rigged their 9-foot 5-weight rods with a size 14 hare and copper nymph and a size 18 ruby midge, adding a BB lead shot and a strike indicator. All of this was on a weight-forward floating line with a seven and one half foot leader and 5X tippet. They landed four trout on the first drift (two each) and lost three others. After that drift, it was Katie bar the door, as they caught trout after trout and hooked up on every drift. Many were in the 16-18-inch range, which is a great trout anywhere. Halfway through the afternoon Lori hooked a huge trout. As soon as it felt the sting of the hook, it jumped straight up. It got at least 3 feet out of the water. John said he had never seen a trout that large get that much air, at least 30 inches and with substantial girth. John said he almost swallowed his cigar, when he saw the jump. After a short but exciting struggle, it dove down and wrapped a rock and spit the hook. What she had hooked and lost was a rodeo trout, big fish that give you a wild ride. Like a bucking bronco, the goal is to hang on for eight seconds. In this case, Lori had this one on for about a minute. She did well. Another big day fishing for the Berrys, he reported.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.68 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(updated 5-25-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said lake level is falling slowing. The lake surface water temperature midweek was 72 degrees. The main lake is clearing nicely, but the coves are stained and the major creeks are getting clear. One generator has been running continuously. The bite on the lake continues, with good topwater action in the morning and then again in the afternoon. Hybrids, stripers, whites and largemouth are chasing shad to the surface, then going wild. Topwater action is a lot of fun. Spooks, Kastmasters or just about any surface-type bait will work. Just remember, if you are walking the dog with your spook, make sure the fish takes the bait under before you set the hook; don't stop your retrieval. Once the fish stops busting the surface start looking at your fish finder and you will find them 20-40 feet deep. Once they go deep, throw your Kastmaster out and let it sink 10 seconds or maybe a little more, then start your retrieval with a crank, stop jerk stop, then start all over again. Make that bait swim erratic. Live bait is also working very well. Threadfin or small gizzard shad are the best, but large shiners are also working. Lou went hunting midweek for new locations to fish, checking out a lot of the areas that he thinks the fish will be at very shortly, but he found very few stripers. He said he did manage to land a couple stripers on live shad in one of his regular locations. Once it was light he got distracted from the hunt with some topwater action on a main lake point. For the next 40 minutes he threw his spook and landed many nice largemouth bass and big white bass -- it was crazy. Around 8 a.m. he headed back to the area where his guests were fishing, and found a little topwater action still going on but was winding down. He started marking some big arcs on his graph down at 40 feet. He dropped a couple of threadfin shad down to 36 feet. While moving slowly he was casting his spook, and the largemouth bass were still very active. Lou landed a couple 19-20-inch-long fish, then one of his down poles start to sing and he landed a nice 13-pound striped bass. Walleye fishing has also been good both in the early morning as well as right before dark and after dark. Live shad is working as well as artificial baits. You can work your Kastmaster back to the boat bouncing it along the bottom or cast out a spoon and jerk it back to the boat along the bottom. You can still catch a few casting a suspending jerkbait up to the shoreline and working it slowly back to the boat. The jerkbait seems to be working in the morning before sunrise. Midday vertical jigging a spoon around brush is picking up a few fish. The walleye seem to be hanging out at 15-25 feet depth on the bottom.
(updated 5-25-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said striper fishing is improving in spite the cold rainy weather they had all week. The north and northeast winds have moved the shad out of the back to the mouth of the creeks. If you go into the creeks you will see clear water. All the stained water has been pushed out into the lake. This has also cooled the creeks. The main lake dropped from the 70 degrees to the mid-60s. He said they have caught limits of stripers on multiple days this week with the best days being sunny with a little wind. Stripers are still being caught all over the lake -- look at Cranfield Island and surrounding points, Crystal Cove, Big Creek near Woods Point and Hand Cove, and the main lake points near the dam. Reynolds is catching stripers in 60 feet of water with lines set at 30 feet. In other areas, stripers are being caught in 80-100 feet of water with lines set at 30 feet. The stripers are now spawned out, therefore they are very skinny. They have begun feeding on crawdads and shad and should gain weight quickly.
Reynolds took guests Eric and his dad, Don, out for Don’s first time fishing for stripers. It was overcast with a slight drizzle. They were fishing the Crystal Cove area and the fish were dormant for the first 45 minutes, then the bite started. They were catching multiple stripers; all Reynolds was doing was landing and baiting hooks. At one point they had three on the floor and one on the line. At the end of the morning they had hooked and landed 10 stripers and hybrids, and kept their limit of six. Don’s experience was one he will not forget. If you have not had that excitement of catching stripers, the summer season is heating up, and one unique thing about Norfork is the warmer the weather the better the striper fishing gets, he said.
(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 Norfork.com.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 5-25-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 2.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet and 26.2 feet below the top of flood pool. No wadable wadable water. The water has cleared somewhat and has fished better lately. 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. 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 No. 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 seen less pressure with spring break over but still has been quite busy. It is 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 No. 10). .

Buffalo National River

(updated 5-25-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that with the weather warming, smallmouths are more active. John Berry says his favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Check the water level before entering the river. There are no dams and the river is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Crooked Creek

(updated 5-25-2016) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the river is navigable. Try his favorite lure for smallmouths, the Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering. There are no dams, there are large drainages and the creek prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.