Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report
March 29, 2017
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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 for couples.
“To register for the class, visit
http://asumh.edu/services/community-education.html. If 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 there.”
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
* 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
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 secondary
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
(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
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
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 quickly.