Cotter Trout Dock Sign
Established 1954
Catch a Rainbow!

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 18, 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.

Leaving the dock.   


White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 1-18-2017) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said this is the time of year when you can have a huge stretch of river all to yourself – and access to all those trout all for yourself. It's a great time to try out that Christmas gift you received (the new spinning rod, the latest Rogue in lime green and chartreuse, the flashy streamer …).  The water level has varied each day for the last week, so you could try topwater lures in the morning, sinking countdowns in the afternoon and some silver/blue Cleos at noon. Catch some rainbows with the always popular shrimp/egg pattern mashup. Forget cabin fever; get outdoors and get moving!
(updated 1-18-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that during the past week, Cotter had seen a trace of rain, brutally cold then warmer temperatures and very heavy winds (to include several days of lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.8 feet to rest at 9.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 45.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 feet to rest at 7.9 feet below seasonal power pool and 23.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at 9.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 19.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had a mixed bag with levels of wadable water mixed with periods of moderate generation. 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 for 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 Rim Shoals. We have had more wadable water. 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 or 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 size 14 hare and copper nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it).
Berry adds, “As many of you know, the Sowbug Roundup is the biggest, most respected fly tying show in the Southeast and one of the most important fly tying shows in the United States. It draws tyers from all over the country and several other countries. It is sponsored by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers (our local fly fishing club) and the proceeds are used for local scholarships and other educational projects. It is scheduled for March 23-25 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. I am a member of the Sowbug Roundup Committee and my job is to put on the fly-tying contest. The idea is to recognize the best tyers among us. Many times, there are great tyers out there that we just do not know about. This is a great way, for those tyers, to be recognized. I received the first submission to the Sowbug Roundup Fly Tying Contest this week. If you have been thinking about entering, then you need to get moving. Though the Sowbug Roundup is in late March, the deadline for submitting entries to the Fly Tying Contest is Feb. 15. The deadline is several weeks before the show because we need time to judge the flies and pick the winners. We also need time to take the winning flies and have a fly plate made to be auctioned off at the shindig on March, 24. The shindig is a party to thank our fly tyers on the Friday night at the Sowbug Roundup. It is a festive affair. You definitely need to get started now because the entry must be postmarked no later than Feb. 15. You should mail your entries to me, John Berry, at 408 Combs Ave. Cotter, AR 72626. If you would prefer to hand deliver them, drop them off at Blue Ribbon Fly Shop at 1343 E. Ninth St., Mountain Home. You need to tie two identical flies (same size, color and shape) and submit them along with tying instructions. You must tie the flies yourself. They cannot be purchased. You cannot use any insect parts to tie the fly. The flies must be in one of the following categories, dry fly, nymph, wet fly, streamer, warm water, smallmouth bass, bass, saltwater, and salmon/steelhead. We will award a winner in each category and a best in show. You can enter as many categories as you like. You can win in multiple categories. There is no fee for entry. The winners will receive a plaque commemorating their victory. This is the ultimate accessory to hang above your fly tying desk. My only regret is that as a member of the fly tying contest committee I am ineligible to compete. You still have a month to tie your flies and get them to me. You cannot win if you do not enter!”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 649.71 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 1-11-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.
(updated 1-18-2017) K Dock Marina is closed for the season until March 3.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 548.01 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 1-18-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake surface temperature had dropped to 48 degrees, and the stripers are on the feed. Multiple limits of stripers were caught this past weekend. Between Tom and his son, Sean, they caught 33 stripers from Thursday through Sunday. Not all were kept but our clients had a lot of fun reeling them in. The main bait was on creek chubs and shiners. We were fishing the Howard Cove area in 70-90 feet of water with our lines set between 35-40 feet. Stripers are also being caught under the U.S. Highway 62 bridge and back side of Henderson marina. Another tip, in addition to watching for sea gulls, is to locate large schools of fish by noting the loons. They hunt in packs, and when you see them in a big circle they are getting ready to feed on a large school of shad. There will be stripers and other predators around those schools. This bite should continue into February. Just keep looking in the main channels until you can find a consistent amount of shad. The stripers will show up. Tom Reynolds said he had a request from a guest named Tom saying he wanted to take his dad and grandfather striper fishing on Friday the 13th. Reynolds was booked, so Sean took them. The weather was wet so Tom’s grandfather took a pass and, as luck would have it, the rains never came for Tom and Bob. They hooked up within their first 10 minutes and continued to catch stripers until their trip ended. In all they caught 10 stripers and kept their limit of 6. Sean was fishing the Howard Cove area in 70-90 feet of water with the lines set at 35-40 feet with creek chubs. Striper fishing will be great for the next several weeks, so come out and give it a try. For the out-of-area folks, you might want to get your calendars out and start making plans now. Winter is here but spring is right around the corner. The stripers will begin their spring migration when the water stays in the mid-50s and the south winds blow. A good tool to use to make your plans with is on the web at for everything Norfork Lake! For a real outdoor adventure, you might consider a striper fishing trip combined with a pheasant hunt. It's a blast!
(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 1-18-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake dropped 0.8 feet to rest at 5.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 31.6 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had low levels of generation with much 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 eighteen 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.

Buffalo National River

(updated 1-18-2017) 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 1-18-2017) 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.