Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report
More reports and other videos are on the Cotter
Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report
March 29, 2017.
White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)
(updated 3-29-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort
(870-453-2424) said water level was low, but both
rainbows and browns had a good bite going still.
PowerBait was working best for anglers.
(updated 3-29-2017) Cotter Trout Dock
(870-435-6525) says it's brown trout season: The
guides have been showing their fishers more browns
than rainbows this past week. No secret to what been
tempting the browns: sculpins and minnows. Trap a few
redfin minnows and you'll have a good chance to come
face-to-face with a strong, fighting brown. Handle
gently, don't keep it out of the water too long,
return it to the river after a quick picture, and look
for another one to play. No pattern to the water
releases yet, so the rainbows have been a little
skittish. Keep an arsenal of bait handy to stir up
their interest and curiosity. If one color doesn't
work, try another (i.e. if not having luck with
fluorescent yellow power bait, change to a gold
spinner or blue and silver spoon.) The dogwoods will
be blooming to perfection in the next couple of days;
come see a beautiful Ozark spring to green, then go
catch a rainbow.
(updated 3-29-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide
Service (870-453-2424) said, “As many of you know, my
wife, Lori, and I have been teaching a fly-fishing
class at Arkansas State University Mountain Home for
several years. We teach a class each spring and fall.
Over the years, we have taught hundreds of people to
fly fish. It will be held on Thursday nights – March
30, April 6, 13 and 20 – on the ASU-Mountain Home
campus from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m.
“We always begin with an hour of fly-casting
instruction. This is basic instruction for someone who
has never held a fly rod or someone with limited
experience. Lori always leads this. Over the years,
she has really worked at it and has become an
accomplished casting instructor. I also assist.
Together we have over 40 years of fly-casting
instruction experience. We like to keep our class size
limited so that all of the students get a lot of
personal attention at each class. We show you where
your mistakes are and how to easily correct them. The
rest of the instruction is in the classroom. This is
where I draw on my 25 years’ experience as a
fly-fishing guide. Of course, Lori, with over a dozen
years of experience as a guide, ably assists. We talk
about equipment, [what to buy and what not to buy]. We
also cover knots, rigging, fly selection, entomology,
reading water and water safety. This is a great class
“To register for the class, visit
you do not have access to a computer, call Sarah Sykes
at (870) 508.6105 to register. There is a nominal fee.
If this sounds like something that you would be
interested in, please sign up. I hope to see you
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports
the lake’s elevation at 653.94 feet msl (normal
conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 3-29-2017) K Dock Marina reported the water
level is down about 7 feet below normal this spring,
around 651.7 feet. (Normal pool is 659 feet above sea
level for the spring.) Bull Shoals has great water
conditions right now, with water clear to stained. All
species are good to fair after the cold snap week
before last. Surface temperature around K Dock dropped
about 5 degrees to around 50-53 degrees. Last
weekend’s temperature should bring the fish up chasing
shad in the shallows. White bass are really starting
to surface around the K Dock area. Crappie should
start to hit soon. No big numbers yet, but that will
change. Have seen a lot of 12- to 14-inch crappie
being caught in nearby coves. Boat ramp is accessible
and courtesy dock is available, free of charge. Here
is a breakdown by species:
* Black Bass (Largemouth, Spotted Bass and Smallmouth)
– Good to fair on a wide fariety of lures. The A-Rig
is still a favorite with the water temps in the low
50s. Many catching bass on small crankbaits such as
Wiggle Warts, Rock Crawlers and Bombers. Spinnerbaits
with small willow blades when windy. Small to medium
jigs ½-ounce or smaller on the steep rock bluffs and
points. And any type of finesse plastics off the
points and bluffs.
* Crappie – Good to fair on swimming minnows on the
sand flats and brush piles. Small plastics in pink and
chartreuse have really been working around brush piles
in the nearby coves. But, live minnows and a bobber
are perfect this time of year.
* Walleye – Fair to slow. Not a lot of reports coming
in on walleye trolling. Horrible weather conditions
week before last. Look for the shallow bite to start
with the water temps coming up. Troll with small
crankbaits such as Hot n’ Tots or Flicker Shads around
the 5 to 7 size. This time of year, you may troll to
find large walleye along the steep rock bluffs feeding
on Crawdads after the spawn. Great time to hit a
monster crappie while trolling with a small crankbait.
Better reports of walleye coming in from Beaver Creek
toward Powersite Dam area.
* White Bass – Very good. We finally have some shallow
water to fish around K Dock. Tie on a lipless
crankbait and hit the flats. The whites will be
everywhere when they jump a few degrees in surface
temp. Your choice of soft or hard bait is up to you
when they start busting the surface.
If you have been on this lake in the past 10 years,
you know that it’s been rare to see these lake
conditions in the spring. If you are new to the K Dock
area, stop in the store on the weekend. Scott will
give you some tips on where to fish, whatever game
fish you’re after.
(updated 3-22-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake
Boat Dock said the lake is still low at 651 feet msl
and they really need some rain, and some would help.
Temperature has ranged 55-63 degrees. Fish are
definitely in pre-spawn mode. A couple of different
things are working, depending on the weather – and
last week they had snow before it was back up in the
80s. The fishing is only get better. They’re coming up
shallow. They’re not all the way in backs of the
creeks, but almost in the backs and in the flats.
They’re still holding off a little bit. Del still
hasn’t put the jerkbait away, he said. He’s also used
a Shaky Head. Try a swimbait with just a little small
head and casting it along the docks, outside of the
docks. Around the transition banks, the fish seem to
be on the sides of the points or where it goes to
bluff wall to gravel; it doesn’t matter, look for
those changes in the rock and you’re going to get bit.
Del says that lately he doesn’t think he’s fished
anything deeper than 15 feet, and you won’t h ave to
for the next month. You can still use a Wiggle Wart a
little bit, or a rock crawler bait, but that bite
should begin to drop off. Got with the brighter colors
in the dirtier water, more natural colors in the clear
water. Also, a jig is catching a lot of fish right
now, he said, especially on the steeper banks into the
pockets, which are hodling a lot of fish. Hit the bank
with a jig and work it back nice and slow. A flashy
finesse spinnerbait is also working. In the dirtier
water add some flash. Walleye were still working on
Tuesday and he said you probably have one more week of
jerkbaiting for walleye. Go for them an hour or so
before the sun goes down to an hour afterward. They’re
shallow, about 18 inches below the surface. White bass
are kind of tapering off, he said. Some are moving out
of the creeks already. You’ll find white bass on the
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports
the lake’s elevation at 547.23 feet msl (normal
conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl,
April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 3-292-2017) Tom
Reynolds of STR Outfitters says their weather patterns
continue to swing from cold rainy to hot and windy.
One day, striper fishing is good, then it slows down
and on some days quits, then picks back up. Tom says
if his clients happen to pick the good days, fishing
is a lot of fun, but those other days when you are
scrambling to get a bait make for a long day. The
stripers are moving up and down the creeks depending
on the weather. They are still fishing near Fouts
Marina. Tom says he has mainly fished near 6B and then
down toward the flats. Others are starting in front of
the marina and work the bluffs and points. All this is
short term as the weather will improve and striper
fishing will pick up all over the lake. Tom’s son did
catch a 30-pound striper pre-fishing. He took a
picture and released it to fight another day. The
crappie are hitting very well in the deeper brush
piles. They are biting on minnows and jigs all over
the lake. Find some off-color water with temperatures
in the mid-50s and you should catch some nice slabs.
Tom says he took Bobby and Pat, who flew in from
California, to catch their first stripers. This was
their first guided fishing trip, also. The bite
starting off quickly with Pat getting the first hit.
He missed it but was very excited to see the fish
chase the bait out of the water. Pat’s next strike was
on the mark and the fight was on. Pat put that one in
the boat and he took pictures to send back to his
co-workers. Bobby was next and he caught a good one.
We put four in the boat and missed a few more that
would have given them their limit. They both enjoyed
the day and Pat had the best birthday present a
brother-in-law could give.
(updated 3-22-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway
Resort said the term "March Madness" definitely fits
Norfork Lake this month. Three inches of snow a week
ago, 90 degrees earlier this week and some
thunderstorms and cooler weather on the way. The
changing weather patterns play havoc with the fish,
but Tuesday the fish gave signs of getting back on
track. Lou says he saw sporadic surface activity for
largemouth bass and striped/hybrid bass, crappie
moving in tighter to the banks for their pre-spawn
activity, and the white bass and walleye have started
to move out to the flats, which indicates the majority
of the walleye and whites have completed their spawn.
Tuesday was a very interesting morning of fishing. Lou
says his game plan was to search a different area of
the lake for striped bass. He didn't find striped
bass, but he ended up catching fish on five different
types of baits. In the dark he started casting a
suspending stickbait to the shoreline. He landed
largemouth and crappie on his Smithwick Rogue. As the
sun was coming up he cast out his blade bait,
Kastmaster, and landed some whites. As the morning
wore on he started casting out a paddle tail swimbait
to the shoreline and landed a largemouth, then in
deeper water he dropped a spoon and landed a walleye.
Live threadfin shad landed a second walleye and he
broke off a big fish, maybe what he was looking for,
he said. Striped bass fishing the last couple of days
has slowed with the cool system that rolled through
their area last week. The snow and cold temperatures
dropped the surface lake temperature from 56 degrees
to 50 degrees. Tuesday morning the lake had warmed
back up to 56 degrees. A few days ago the stripers
that had moved back into the major creek arms were
biting aggressively and could be found anywhere from
20 to 50 feet of water. Most fish that Lou was
catching and marking were suspended 15-35 feet down.
Tuesday, Lou said he did mark a few stripers, but they
were not feeding. This will change with the warming
water very shortly and the good bite will begin again.
Lou adds that largemouth bass fishing has been good.
This species is moving in close to the shoreline early
and late in the day. Tuesday morning brought some of
the best surface activity that he have seen so far
this year. This is still early for topwater, but a
very good sign. Lou caught largemouth before Tuesday’s
sunrise on a suspending jerkbait; after sunrise,
largemouth were being caught on a 5-inch paddle tail
swimbait by one of Lou’s guests. The topwater started
just as the sun got above the horizon. Lou says start
carrying your favorite topwater bait as he believes
this will become a little more common each day.
Alabama rigs are also working very well rigged out
with a 3½- to 4-inch swimbait. The shorter baits are
still working a little better than longer baits, but
this will change as the water continues to warm.
Lou caught walleye Tuesday morning, one on a shallow
flat in 18 feet of water and the other was out in 65
feet of water suspended down 55 feet. Lou marked bait
from 40 feet to the bottom and saw five big arcs in
the bait. He assumed the arcs were stripers so he
dropped a ½-ounce spoon and landed a nice 23-inch
walleye. “You tell me what the current pattern of our
walleye are?” he asks with a grin. The majority of the
walleye have spawned and should be moving to the flats
to feed. Deep-diving crankbaits, crawler harnesses and
dragging live minnows will start to pick up some nice
fish. White bass have also completed the majority of
their spawning activities. Lou says he’s starting to
find scattered fish on large flats suspended down
20-30 feet in 30-50 feet of water. He caught several
nice whites on his Kastmaster blade bait. It will not
be long until large schools of whites will be roaming
shallow flats feeding heavily on shad. Topwater
frenzies will erupt and make the water boil. Topwater
baits, blade baits, spoons and swimbaits will all pick
up some nice fish.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning
was 55-56 degrees. The lake level is falling very
slowly and currently sits at 545.25, which is
approximately a 1 foot drop over the last two weeks.
The lake is somewhat stained but clearly is occurring.
North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)
(updated 3-22-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide
Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake fell 0.5 feet
to rest at 7.5 feet below seasonal power pool of
553.75 feet and 33.7 feet below the top of flood pool.
On the Norfork, we had less generation with more
wadable water, but it has fished poorly. Daphnia has
been spotted on the upper river and could adversely
affect the bite. 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. Berry’s favorite
rig has been a hare and copper nymph with a ruby midge
dropper. Dry Run Creek has been very crowded due to
spring break. 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 3-22-2017) Berry Brothers Guide Service
(870-453-2424) said the Buffalo is navigable. With
warm weather, the smallmouths should be more 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 3-22-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide
Service (870-453-2424) said the creek is navigable.
With warm weather, the smallmouths should be more
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