Cotter Trout Dock Sign
Established 1954
Catch a Rainbow!

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

February 15, 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.

Brown trout.   Nice trout.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 2-15-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said they had a good weekend for fishing. The river level is low, while the trout bite was excellent. Rainbows are doing well, while there is a lot of brown trout now.
(updated 2-15-2017) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Cabin fever? Not here in the Arkansas Ozarks. The weather has been spring-like and the river is calling. This past week, with very low water, we've seen success using jigs and 5-inch rogues, chartreuse and a little darker green, white bellies (be careful, though, they'll get hung up easily so keep them moving). Flash some gold (Cleos and Colorados) on sunny days for a good catch of nice rainbows.” Ron adds that the German browns still chase sculpins but have been finicky about minnows – sometimes they hit them, sometimes not. Put your shad away in the Cotter fishing area. Fishing with kids? Shrimp and PowerBait should do the trick. Be gentle with the fish when returning them to the river so they'll be there for you next time. Enjoy Arkansas's natural beauty and keep on fishing.
(updated 2-15-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said, “A few weeks ago, I wrote about how excited I was to catch an 11-nch Bonneville Cutthroat. The Bonnevilles are a recent addition to our fishery. Our local Trout Unlimited organization, Arkansas White River Chapter No. 698, has an ongoing project to introduce these trout to the White and Norfork rivers. The idea was to introduce another self-sustaining trout species to our waters to complement our brown trout.
“TU obtained the Bonneville trout eggs from Wyoming and brought in Dave Whitlock to initiate the project. Beginning four years ago, the eggs were planted in catch-and-release sections of the White and Norfork rivers in order to create a spawning ground for them on an annual basis. The idea of another self-sustaining species in our waters is very appealing to me.
“Right after I had caught my 11-inch Bonneville, someone came into Blue Ribbon and showed me a photo of an 18-incher. I was really impressed. I had no idea that they had gotten so big in such a short time. I decided to go after a big one!
“Last week I had a day off. My wife, Lori, had gone to Memphis to care for her parents who had both just gotten out of the hospital. I was home alone with some free time on my hands. I decided to drive over to the Ackerman Access on the Norfork and give it a try. It was cloudy and cold (around 39 degrees) with a 10-15 mph wind out of the north that sent the wind chill plummeting. The water was on the bottom. I was surprised to only see one vehicle in the parking lot. A bit of solitude really sounded nice to me.
“I waded far upstream into the catch-and-release Section, with the idea of fishing my way out. I did not rig my rod until I got where I wanted to fish. I arrived at a deep, fast run a few hundred yards below where TU had planted the Bonneville trout eggs. I took a few minutes to rig my line with a size 14 hare and copper with ruby midge dropper. My first fish was a fat 14-inch rainbow. Then I landed an 18 and then a 17 and a 16.
“I had planned on moving downstream but the fish were good-sized and fighting well. If I was going to catch fish like this, I would stay where I was. I doubled down and continued fishing the run. I was rewarded with an incredibly fat 21-inch hook jawed male rainbow. I was feeling pretty good about the day but I was hoping for a big Bonneville.
“A few casts later I hit paydirt. It was a big trout that was pulling line out at a prodigious rate. I was almost in the backing and I thought I was on a good-sized brown. I fought it for several minutes before I got a good look at it. It was a cutthroat for sure. It had bright red fins, vivid red slashes under its chin, big spots and a faint pink stripe. It was a Bonneville cutthroat.
“I deftly worked it into calm water so that I could take a good look at it. It was flawless! While not as fat as some that I had seen photos of, this one was a smidge over 18 inches. I had accomplished my goal. Unfortunately, I had left the house without my phone, so I was unable to take a picture. I figured that was OK because I knew what happened. I began fishing my way out. I picked up a few small fish and ended the day with about a dozen trout. I didn’t catch numbers but I had some real quality.
“The Bonnevilles are doing well thanks to the effort of TU."

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 651.04 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 1-25-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said before last weekend that it was hot out and the fish didn't know what to do. Water temperature on the main lake has been 49-50 degrees, while it gets a little cooler back in creeks. Del didn’t get a lot of time out lately because they did the Springfield (Mo.) boat show. As far as the bite goes, he's still catching them on a Wiggle Wart or Rock Crawler. The water is real clear. You could see the drop-shot bait 17 feet down last week. He's been catching some using a flat-sided crankbaits. The wind’s been piling up in the back of the draws. Work the banks, the 45-degree banks and look for wind. You've gotta have the wind. If you don't have it at one stop, just go to the next stop. Those fish are shallow, catching them in 7 feet off the shore, while keeping the boat parallel to the bank. Catching a few on a jig. If there is any wood or brush piles around the boat docks or close to deep water, drag a jig through there. Those fish are 10-25 feet throughout the day. Been catching a few fish on the spoon. Went and checked on the deep fish, and those fish are toward the back or in the middle of the creek. Today they weren’t all the way back but halfway back, they were close to the main channel, at 40-50 feet. There is just a little bit of shad here and there but kind of spread out, no solid pattern like is normal for this time of year. Keep moving and keep fishing.
(updated 2-15-2017) 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 547.19 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 2-15-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake surface temperature had started to rise with this warm weather and south winds. Tom said he went looking for bait and found threadfin and gizzards in Bennett’s Bayou. The water temperature had risen to 55 degrees on Saturday. He also found lots of schooling crappies in 15 feet of water. He was fishing for stripers using shiners and caught a 12-inch crappie. Tom then started looking for them and found large schools roaming the river channel. He said he expected the water temperature to get back into the high 40s but with the expected warmer forecast you should expect to see lots of bait and fish movement in the next 10 days. The shad are moving and should start heading up halfway in the major creeks. Tom said he still continues to fish Float Creek but with not much success. The stripers are deep along with the shad. He has been seeing fish at 75 feet on the bottom in the shad schools. He does not expect this to last much longer as he has found some fish up the creek in waters less than 50 feet. On Friday Tom took Bob out for his first striper trip. It was the full moon and windy. Tom was using both threadfin and gizzard shad, and expected with that bait that they would tear up the fish. They found stripers right away in Float Creek and had a bite right away but it was petty soft bite and the fish did not hook itself. They fished for over 5 hours and continued to have soft bites with no real takers. Tom says he ran across a friend who had fished the Tracy Marina area both Tuesday and Wednesday afternoon last week and limited out both days. He said the shad was in 20 feet and thick outside the marina. Tom and his group went down there but could not find any shad. He said he thought the shad were staying out of the marina where they normally stay because of the full moon. Anyway, he said, it just shows that you can have the best bait and still not catch a striper, but tomorrow is another day.
(updated 2-8-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake water level is 547.76 and holding fairly stable. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 48-49 degrees, which is 4 - 5 degrees warmer than normal. The main lake is clearing and the creeks and coves are still stained, but the water seems like it’s starting to clear. The weather this winter has been amazing with only a few cool days. At 7 a.m. Tuesday, when Lou left his Norfork Lake dock, the air temperature was already in the upper 50s. Early spring-like weather. Lou said he started checking his normal winter spots and found some stripers in 90 feet of water suspended 40-50 feet down close to the U.S. Highway 62 bridge. He was vertical jigging with a spoon and hooked into two fish, but both came off after a short run. His second spot was in Float Creek. Lou marked a few fish lying on the bottom at 70 feet, but they would not take his spoon. He decided to try an area he normally fishes in March heading up toward the Fouts area. Lou was finding fish in 55 feet of water, but again he could not get them to hit his spoon. He then headed into shallower water and found some schooling whites, hybrids and scattered largemouth bass in 25-40 feet of water. Bait was scattered and the fish were feeding. Lou says he guesses the warmer-than-normal water temperature is moving the bait fish into shallower water and the fish are following. Unless the weather turns cold for an extended period of time, we should have an early spring bite. Lou said he will try out the night bite sometime this week to see if they can get a good February bite like they had several years ago. The water temperature is almost perfect for the after dark bite throwing a suspending jerk bait.
Lou added that over the last few days, he has found largemouth bass in 20-40 feet of water, as well as, large schools in 65 feet of water suspended 30-50 feet down. Look for the largemouth bass partway back in creeks on secondary points where the channel swings in close to shore. It looks like the bass are starting to transition to an early spring-type bite a little earlier this year. He has landed bass on a spoon vertical jigging and by casting out a Kastmaster and letting it sink down to the depth of the suspended fish. Spinnerbaits are also working on the windblown shores as well as jig and pigs worked through 30 feet of water. If the weather holds, jerkbait time will start earlier than normal.
(updated 2-8-2017) Guide Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service had no report.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 2-8-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 5.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 32.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had less 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. John’s favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worms with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has been less crowded with the colder weather. 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 2-8-2017) 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 2-8-2017) 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.