Cotter Trout Dock Sign
Established 1954
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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 25, 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.

Nice brown trout.    Nice rainbow trout.

Nice trout.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 1-25-2017) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said they’ve had a week of trying many baits and lures (silver/black or blue back rogues, No. 7 brown trout countdowns, and smaller Husky jerks), spinners (Blue Fox 3/16-ounce gold and bronze), jigs (olive or black), live bait (minnows and sculpins), shrimp and PowerBait in several colors (fluorescent yellow, orange, sunrise and pink). Everything caught some rainbows. Sculpin remained the winner for browns and larger rainbows, and shrimp sniffed out more keeper-sized rainbows. During the last several days we've seen perfect wading levels early in the morning, then it’s time to hop in a boat to fish the afternoon rise. Get out there and have a great catch!
(updated 1-25-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that during the past week, they have had a few rain events (for a combined total of an inch in Cotter), cold then warmer temperatures and very heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.2 feet to rest at 9.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 45.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.3 feet to rest at 7.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 23.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 9.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 19.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they 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 Wildcat Shoals. They 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 in 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 size 14 hare and copper nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it).
(updated 1-25-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said that when the catch-and-release section is reopened Feb. 1, they should start having more anglers. The fish are out there, though, and are "jumping like crazy everywhere."

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 649.99 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 1-25-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.
(updated 1-25-2017) 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 547.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 1-25-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake surface temperature is steady at 48 degrees and the stripers are getting picky on the size of bait they want to eat. Tom said he has been fishing threadfin shad, shiners and creek chubs. Up to the end of this week the bite has been very good, but starting Thursday they quit biting the smaller baits and now want the largest shiners you can find. These shiners are call brooders or No. 30s by the bait shops. The stripers are biting on them much better than the small baits. Tom fished the Howard Cove area Wednesday and Thursday and caught stripers and hybrids, but by Friday they had moved out into the main lake below the U.S. 62 bridge. The stripers are roaming the deep water chasing shad so you will need to stay with the bait fish to find and catch the stripers. The shad are in the 40-feet range and the fish are being caught between 35 and 40 feet. This bite should continue into February. Just keep looking in the main channels until you can find a consistent amount of shad. The stripers and other predators will show up. Tom also says he attends sports shows every year to visit and talk with potential clients that would like to fish Norfork Lake. The first one is in Collinsville, Ill., and the other is in Schaumburg, Ill. Every year you meet clients and other fishing guides and start developing a relationships. One such relationship Tom made was with two crappie guides, Steve and Alan. Steve and Alan guides on Lake Shelbyville and Kentucky Lake. Alan is also the Lowrance Rep. Having them on his boat for two days gave Tom some great insights into electronics and how better he can use technology to locate bait and fish. The first day out was their best day, he said. They caught five stripers and missed many more. In the eight hours they fished they had some great stories and shared information on lots of topics. They fished the Howard Cove area in 70-90 feet of water with lines set at 38 feet. They were using shiners, shad and creek chubs. The next day was slower and they only caught three but again missed a few. This time of year you have to just keep going out and find the bait. One day it will be great and then the next two days slow. But keep doing it and you will figure out the fish and catch them consistently.
(updated 1-25-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake's winter fishing pattern is in full swing. The bait fish are in the deep water channels of 80-100-plus feet and the bait are suspended 50-70 feet down. Striped and hybrid bass can be found following the bait fish whether it is on the main lake or back in the major creeks. For most of last week, Lou said, he was fishing in the 62 bridge area, mainly to the south of the bridge. Later in the week the fish moved in between the two bridges. Earlier this week he was only marking a few stripers, so after a couple hours of looking and fishing with minimal success he decided to move into Float Creek. Immediately he was marking large balls of shad with small schools of stripers following. For the next hour it was total havoc on my boat. He said he was by himself with four live bait poles out. He had doubles on several times and ended up boating five stripers, but missed as many. He had bait set at 40, 50 and 60 feet deep, but all his strikes came from the 40- and 50-feet-deep baits even though he was marking many fish 60-plus-feet deep. This day was the first in over a week that vertical jigging with a spoon would have worked great, because he saw multiple fish at one time at same depth. Large shiners, big river chubs and threadfin shad are the best choices for live bait. Lou had to clean one striper because it could not swim away and Lou found that its belly was full of 1-3-inch threadfin shad. If this winter is typical, the fish should stay at this depth and in these areas for the next 3-4 weeks. Toward the end of February and beginning of March the major creeks will be great places to look. The fish will start to go toward shallower water following the bait. Small and largemouth bass, as well as, Kentucky bass fishing has also been good. The bass can be found along the deep water bluff lines. I have found many bass suspended 30-50 feet down in 60 feet of water. Early and late in the day they are moving in a little tighter to the shore line 15-25 feet deep, but still on the bluffs. You can vertical jig with a spoon, but this method can be difficult with suspended fish. Try casting out a grub, small spinners or blade baits to catch these suspended fish. On the windy days throw a spinner bait. Jig & pigs, other types of plastics and deep-diving crankbaits are also good choices for the fish that move in tighter to the shore early and late in the day. Another good place for the Kentucky and largemouth bass is near deep brush piles. Work the bottom with a spoon around the brush and you will pick up some nice fish.
Lou added that crappie are on and near the deep water brush piles. Look at sunken brush in 30-50 feet of water. The crappie will be inside of the brush (these are typically the bigger ones) as well as suspended over the brush. At times you will find them only 10 feet deep, but he has more success at 20-plus feet deep this time of year. The Norfork Lake level is currently stable, but has been falling slowly and sits at 547.88. The water temperature is fluctuating between 48-50 degrees. The warm days and nights are rising the water temperature slowly. The main lake is clear in most areas and the creeks and coves are stained. Currently Norfork Lake is in excellent fishing condition and the fish that Lou has been catching are fat and energetic. Make your plans now to come catch a few!
(updated 1-11-2017) Guide Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service had no report.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 1-25-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake dropped 0.6 feet to rest at 6 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 32.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had low levels of generation with more wadable water. 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 rig has been a yellow egg with a root beer midge dropper. 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.
Berry also relates, “Last Sunday I had the day off. Blue Ribbon Fly Shop was closed and I did not have a guide trip scheduled. I checked the weather and found out that the high temperature would be in the 50s with little if any wind. The rainfall originally forecast seemed to be falling well north of us in Missouri. In addition, the generation forecast called for low wadable water, on the Norfork, all day. My wife, Lori, suggested that it would be a great day for us to go fishing. I quickly agreed. Lori’s friend Sherri Poulus joined us. We drove over to the Ackerman Access, on the Norfork. Although the parking lot was crowded, there did not seem to be many anglers there particularly upstream in the Catch and Release section. Lori and Sherri decided to fish near the access while I headed upstream. I was fishing a Sage Light Line fly rod that I had inherited from my brother, Dan, a couple of years ago; this was my first chance to fish with it. I had a rod just like it but broke it. That is another story. I found my favorite spot empty. I have pulled more big fish out of this hole than any other spot on the Norfork and I always try to spend at least an hour here, whenever I fish this river. I rigged my rod with a big yellow egg with a root beer midge below it. I quickly lost a big fish when it made a long run. I never got a good look at it but I could tell it was stout. Then I landed a decent cutthroat (around sixteen inches long). I was feeling a bit better about my chances. A few casts later I hit a really good trout. After a lengthy battle, I landed a fat twenty-inch rainbow. On the next cast, I caught its twin. That was two twenty inch rainbows in two casts. I caught a few more trout before I decided to move on.
“I worked my way downstream to another spot that I like to fish. Unfortunately, there was an angler fishing near there and I did not want to crowd him. I went to another spot not too far away. Before I made a cast, I noted that he had moved out. He was sitting on the bank re-prigging his rod. I walked over to the angler and asked if I could fish there. He said, “Sure.” He had not done any good and was ready to leave. I waded over to the spot and on the third cast hit a beautiful 20-inch cutthroat. It took a while but I finally landed the fat fish. I took a minute to take a photo of the trout. I asked if he wanted to try the spot. I had my fun and was ready to share. I took a minute to show him how I was rigged and exactly how I had fished the hole. It was time to check on Lori and Sherri. I began fishing my way out and picked up a few more trout. When I had almost caught up to them I hooked and landed a Bonneville Cutthroat. These are the trout that Trout Unlimited had planted in the Norfork and White rivers as eggs a few years ago; this is the first one I have caught in some time and it was magnificent. It was a fat 11-inch cut with spectacular blood-red fins and vivid slashes under its chin. It was the most beautiful cut that I had ever caught. I wanted to take a photo but I was in heavy water and did not want to take a chance of injuring it. I linked up with the girls. They had not done as well as I had, so we walked back upstream where I had fished earlier. By then I felt like I had caught enough. I sat on the bank and watched them fish. They caught several, but no big fish. Around 5 o’clock we headed out. It had been a great day and I had the hot hand. I even out fished Lori. Life is good!”

Buffalo National River

(updated 1-25-2017) 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 1-25-2017) 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.