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.
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
“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
“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.
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
(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
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.
(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.