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Established 1954
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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 11, 2017

Below are some photos of our guided trout fishing customers taken this week at Cotter Trout Dock. 
Click images to enlarge.
Below the pictures is the Fishing Report from Arkansas Game and Fish.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 649.6509 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 1-11-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.
(updated 1-11-2017) K Dock Marina is closed for the season until March 3.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 1-11-2017) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said his New Year's 2017 resolution is to do more trout fishing and buy a bigger net. He said they are gearing up for a great year of catching, learning some new techniques, meeting more trout anglers, looking at lots of pictures and hearing hours and hours of fish stories. The weather has kept even the heartiest off the water for a while with below-freezing air temperatures, but the Cotter area is warming up again – expect some showers along with the mild temperatures and a great new batch of trout. Their winter fishers have done pretty well for themselves on a variety of live bait (sculpin and minnows) with a couple of guys throwing translucent purple Rogues (Ron’s favorite) and seeing a lot of action. Clean that line and come try your hand at cold-weather trout catching.
(updated 1-11-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said during the past week they have had a trace of rain, a trace of snow, brutally cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.2 feet to rest at 8.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 44.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 feet to rest at 7.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 23.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 9.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.8 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had a mixed bag with levels of wadable water combined with periods of moderate generation. All of the lakes on this system are below seasonable power pool. With colder weather and a higher demand for power, we should see less wadable water. The catch and release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The state park will be seasonal catch and release through the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period. On the White, the bite has been spotty. Some days have been excellent and some poor. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. 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 and 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 size 14 hare and copper nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it).
Berry adds, “Is the humble Woolly Nugger the best fly ever? For a fly that gets little respect, it certainly catches a lot of fish. It is easy to tie. I generally make it the first fly learned, when I teach a fly-tying class. It is easy to fish. You don’t have to watch the fly or an indicator to know when you get a take. There is that beautiful resounding bump, when a fish hits it. It is not a one-trick pony. I have caught more species of fish, on it, than any other fly that I have ever fished. This includes four species of trout, red fish, speckled sea trout, shark, flounder, smallmouth bass, largemouth bass, bream and crappie, to name a few. It is one, of our best-selling flies here at Blue Ribbon Fly Shop.
“I was first introduced, to the Woolly Bugger over 35 years ago when fishing with my brother, Dan, on the Little Red River, while camping at John F. Kennedy Park. He gave me a few and told me that it was a new fly that he had been introduced to by a friend. I asked how to fish it and he said, “Just put it in the water and it will work.” I caught a quick dozen rainbows on it and was enamored with the Woolly Bugger immediately. Over time, I refined my technique to fishing it on a downstream swing with a varied retrieve. For the next 10 years, I hardly fished any other fly. In 1991, I was the president of the Mid South Fly Fishers, the Federation of Fly Fishers club in Memphis, Tenn. We had Lefty Kreh in as a guest speaker. As a joke, they had Lefty present me a plaque as the “bugger of the year.” I still have a photo of Lefty presenting me the award and cherish it.
“After a while, I was lured more to fishing with dry flies, nymphs and emergers. I would fish Woolly Buggers on occasion but I generally fished other flies. This has caught up with me, on a few occasions. On one occasion, I was preparing to fish the North Fork of the White River for the first time. I talked to Brian Wise and most of the other guides that fish it regularly, asking them what flies to use. The answer came back the same: stonefly nymphs and prince nymphs. I searched through all of my fly boxes until I found the flies that I had bought for a trip to Montana a few years before. Then when I was on stream I was severely out-fished by my wife, Lori, who was using an olive Woolly Bugger.
“Then just a couple of months ago, I was fishing with Lori’s sister, Terri, and her husband, Larry, at Roundhouse Shoals here in Cotter. It is a spot only four blocks from my house and I fish it often. I was fishing my favorite double fly rig, a cerise San Juan worm with a ruby midge dropper. This has been my most productive rig for months and I was quite comfortable fishing it. My only problem was that it just wasn’t working. No fly works every time. At the same time, Terri and Larry were having a remarkable day fishing Woolly Buggers. I was humbled and I switched over to an olive Woolly Bugger and immediately began to catch trout. The Woolly Bugger saved the day! No matter what your level of angling experience, do not forget the Woolly Bugger. Don’t leave home without it.”

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 548.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 1-11-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said said the cold weather the past few days will drop the Norfork Lake surface temperature a few degrees, but he suspects it go back up with the warming trend that should take place this week. Tom said he fished last Wednesday and Thursday and could not find any shad out in the channel of the lake. The shad are still in the main creeks like Float Creek, Panther Creek and the Crystal Cove area. The shad are also in the marinas under the docks. Tom fished Float Creek and saw very large schools of stripers ranging in water 45-90 feet deep, the stripers were from 35-55 feet. Sometimes you could get two or three hits when the school passed by, then other times nothing. The best approach is set your baits after you find some shad and just continue moving in a large circle. Most of the time you will see nothing on your locator but then a school will show up and the fun begins. The artificial users are catching stripers and white bass on spoons, and the trollers are catching stripers on swimbaits. Find the shad and you will find the fish. Tom added that he had a Cast & Blast this past week with three generations – grandfather (Ray), son (John), and grandson (Henry). The group fished Tuesday and Wednesday and pheasant hunted Thursday. Wednesday the stripers were very aggressive and they hooked their limit multiple times but only managed to boat six stripers, Wednesday the bite was altogether different – they had over 25 strikes but many were nothing more than a pull down and the bait was gone. They did manage to catch eight stripers and missed a few more we should have had. Thursday the temperature was 19 degrees but felt warmer because they had little wind. When you can get together three generations, it’s not about how many fish or birds you shoot, it’s the time spent together and the memories you make that will last a lifetime. Tom said he was fishing Float Creek with the lines set at 35-40 feet with Creek Chubs. Striper fishing will great for the next several weeks, so come out and give it a try.
(updated 1-11-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said he has finally been able to get out on Norfork Lake. A holiday vacation and then cold weather kept Lou off the lake for a couple weeks, but he said he’s glad to be back. Fishing on Norfork Lake has entered the winter phase of the fishing cycle, meaning the shad are going into deep water and the fish are following. In mid-December, Lou said, he was catching fish on large flats in 40-60 feet of water. Over the last week he has found large schools of striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass out closer to the main river channel or main creek channels. He has been catching stripers in 60-100 feet of water and the fish are suspended 30-60 feet deep. Lou’s favorite winter time bait is a spoon. He says he finds the fish and drops a spoon down to their depth and starts jigging the spoon up and down. With cold water the jigging method should be slowed down. The fish are still active, but are starting to slow down and don't necessarily want to chase it. You can also troll with swimbaits or Alabama rigs. The hardest part about trolling is getting your bait down to the correct depth. Down riggers, lead core line or in-line weights are different ways to get your bait down while trolling. Live bait is also working very well. During the cold months Lou will use big shiners. The stripers seem to like them just fine. Over the last week Lou has found stripers in the major creeks such as Float and Panther. You will also find stripers from the Highway 62 bridge area down to the Howard Cove area. The best part of winter fishing is, you do not necessarily need to be fishing at the crack of dawn. Monday afternoon Lou found large schools of feeding fish at 1 p.m. and it lasted all afternoon.
Lou also said he’s been concentrating for the last week on striped bass, so the next report will have information on bass and crappie fishing. He adds that he did pick up a nice crappie 70 feet deep while striper fishing. They can be anywhere in the cold water. Norfork Lake surface water temperature Monday afternoon was 48.5 degrees. A slight rise in water temperature is expected over the next several days due to the warmer than normal days and nights. Norfork Lake level is falling slowing and currently sits at 548.53. Periodic power generation is occurring during a large portion of the day. The main lake is clear, but the creeks and coves are stained.
(updated 1-11-2017) Guide Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service had no report.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 1-11-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake dropped 1.1 feet to rest at 4.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 30.8 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had low levels of generation with much less wadable water. All of the lakes on this system are below seasonable power pool. With colder weather and a higher demand for power, we should see less wadable water. There has been much less wadable water on the Norfork. 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 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. My favorite fly has been an orange egg. Dry Run Creek has been less crowded with school back in session. A large number of brown trout have moved into the creek. 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 you are 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. Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.

Buffalo National River

(updated 1-11-2017) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Buffalo is navigable. With cold weather, the smallmouths are much less active. Berry’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering the Buffalo River. There are no dams, it has large drainages and is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Crooked Creek

(updated 1-11-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the creek is navigable. With cold weather, the smallmouths are much less active. Berry’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek. There are no dams, it has large drainages and is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.