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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 26, 2017

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report April 26, 2017.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 4-26-2017)  Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says those April showers have been visiting this week with more in the forecast; bring ponchos or heavier rain gear. The river was dingy over the weekend from the creeks coming in but cleared by Sunday above Crooked Creek. During the heaviest of the rain last Friday they caught some great browns on a chartreuse Rogue right at the mudline. The last couple of days they've been blessed with a steady flow of an extra foot or so of water, so they've seen many anglers successfully using Rogues of varying colors (brown with red eyes, the Foxy Shad with gold or white belly, chartreuse), suspending from the surface to 4 feet or to 6 feet. The catch isn't as quick as with shrimp and PowerBait, but very satisfying. Using spoons? Try the Thomas Buoyant copper Colorado, either ¼- or 1/6-ounce. Another great week on the White River in the most beautiful place in the country: the Ozark Mountain region of Arkansas. Come on over and see for yourself.

(updated 4-12-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said they’ve had a LOT of wind in the past several days. River level has been low. The trout bite has ranged from fair to good. The reports on rainbows have been low. However, the browns seem numerous and are biting well.

(updated 4-26-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that during the past week, they have had several rain events (combined for an inch and a half in Cotter), warm temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.2 feet to rest at 2.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 38.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.5 rest at 2 feet below seasonal power pool and 18 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.9 feet to rest at 2.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 12.7 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had wadable water with some generation. The bite has been spotty. Some days have been excellent and some poor. The hot spot has been the Rim Shoals. 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 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 (John’s current favorite is a size 14 hare and copper nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). 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.

John also said, “I have been around the fly-fishing business for a long time and have seen a lot of new gear come and go. I watch the major rod manufacturers come out with new models every year accompanied with a hundred dollar increase. Over four decades of fly-fishing I have seen little real improvement in the ability to cast with these rods. My favorite fly rod is a Sage Light Line 9-foot 4-weight that is well over 30 years old. I have not found a new rod that is its equal. I fished it yesterday on the Norfork.

“Therefore there is a bit of skepticism whenever I note a new piece of gear that is going to rock my world. This happened recently, when Yeti coolers hit the market. I was amazed with how expensive they were. The least expensive one cost $249.95. Of course I already had a half-dozen nice coolers. It is impressive that they are bear proof containers. But do I really need that? All of my fellow guides swear by them.

“Then a couple of years ago I was guiding an angler that brought his own Yeti (a Roadie) with him to carry his soft drinks. At the end of the day he asked me if I wanted it in lieu of a tip. It didn’t take me too long to figure out that it was a great deal. He had won the cooler the previous day at a sporting clays tournament and already owned two. I gratefully accepted it and began using it on my guide trips. While I found it a bit heavy, I was amazed at how cool it would keep food and drinks. The Roadie was the smallest Yeti made and I don’t see how these guys are lugging around the bigger ones. I found out that they don’t move them. They use it as a rowing platform in their boats.

“I thought that it would be a great cooler for my wife, Lori, to use on her guide trips. It was just too heavy for her to lug around. About that time, Yeti came out with a soft side cooler, the hopper. I checked it out but did not like the way the zipper was on the top. It was hard to put things in and take them out. Then recently Yeti came out, with the Hopper Flip 12. It had a three-way zipper that gave easy access to its contents and was quite a bit lighter than my Roadie. The problem was that it cost $279.95. I don’t know if you are aware of the fact that I am a bit cheap. It corroded my soul to pay that much. Luckily I had some Orvis reward points that I cashed in for it. Lori has really enjoyed it and uses it on her guide trips. She also takes it on road trips when she attends dog shows.

“I have since also acquired two 10-ounce tumblers and two 20-ounce tumblers for Lori and me. I have found the 20-ounce tumblers the most useful. They fit in the cup holders of my Suburban (the 10-ounce tumblers don’t) and they keep two mugs of coffee hot all day. I can enjoy the hot coffee I made that morning, when I come off the river after a long day of fishing. I did not want to like Yeti products but I find myself using them every day.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 662.41 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).

(updated 4-26-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said lake temperature late last week was 63 degrees on main lake, and he found some 70-plus temps in the back creeks. Lake level came up a foot foot to a foot and a half last week, but they are still below normal pool. The fishing has been really, really good. Up the lake it seems like the spawn is on the last leg, it’s fisnishing up. Down the lake there is still a good spawn bite going on. Looks like there is a shad spawn going on up the lake in some of the creeks. That’s a good indicator that those fish are post-spawn up there. Couple of things you want to check out going up the lake. The post-spawners are moving out of the lake, moving out into the backs of pockets, so you want to hit the secondary points headed out, the channel swings. Up there, Del put his boat in 20-25 feet of water. There are a bunch of baits working. Topwater, catching them on Sammy, you can throw a Zara Spoon, a Pop-R and a Redfin is working, too. Also, the Keitech swimbait, using a 3.8, a quarter round jighead, slowing it back. If you get in the shad and they’re not hitting the topwater, you can slow roll that swimbait through there and catch a few more fish. Also anglers are catching a few on a squarebill back in the flats. There’s a little more dirtier water back in there, so that helps with the crankbait going back in and out of there. If you’re going to catch the spawners on the end of the lake down in this area, same patterns have been working for a while: the C rig, Shaky Head, you can throw a jig. There are still a few tree spawners going into those creeks, the spawning pockets. Check the last points going in; seems like a lot of those fish are on the sides of the points leading back into the pockets. Even on the main lake down here, they’re not all quite on the back. It’s everything from smallmouth to Kentuckies to largemouths. You’re just going to have to cover some water, but the fishing has been really, really good for the bass; it was a great week. The walleye are starting to frown a little bit, it’s slowed down. Water temperatures are coming up and they’re starting to move out a little bit. The jerkbait bite is still getting a few, the swimbait still getting a few. But as the temps come up the fish are going to start moving down. Pretty soon those guys will be dragging bottom bouncers and trolling.

(updated 4-19-2017) K Dock Marina reported the water has cleared up a lot in the past week. Lake level remains steady at about 3.5 feet below normal pool of 659.00 feet. Surface temperature has finally gone above the 60-degree mark, resulting in some great fishing. Temperature has ranged 62-65 degrees. Clarity is clear. Black bass are good on a variety of small to medium plastics in the backs of coves. Also good on Wiggle Warts and Rock Crawlers on points and into coves. Spinnerbaits are working well on breezy days. Crappie are good on live minnows in the coves around bush piles. Swimming minnows also working good. Chartreuse seems to be the color right now. Crappie should be right on the shoreline in a week or two. Walleye are fair on small to medium crankbaits. Should be in the 10-15 feet depths soon with the water temperature rising. Also fair on silver or white spoons. White bass are fair up the lake from K Dock around the Beaver Creek arm.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 557.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 4-26-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says the weather continues to wreak havoc on the fishing. You get on a pattern and think that the long awaited spring bite is starting, then the weather turns ugly and the fish go back into hiding. One day, Tom says, he’ll catch a good bunch of stripers and his son only catches one or two. The next day it’s the opposite: He catches a bunch and Tom doesn’t catch anything. Then they will both have great days and if the weather just stays consistent they will be bringing in limits every day. The threadfin shad are in the early stages of spawning and the spawn will trigger all the fish to go on a feeding binge. Tom says he has fished both Bennett’s Bayou with little success and fished Big and Brushy creeks with better success. They were catching lots of fish in both creeks until the weather turned bad last Thursday, and by Sunday they had very little success. Because the shad are moving shallow, Tom decided to start fishing the main lake points and channel swings. Tom caught fish right away and has been since. The crappie

Tom adds, “Both my son, Sean, and I had fishing trips on Friday and Saturday in the rain. Our clients understood that we would be in the rain and still wanted to go. My clients were locals on Friday, and when we left the dock it was raining and lightning with lots of thunder. We had to stay in a boat dock until the major portion had passed. My fishing was slow. We started off great with a 14-pound striper and then missed one. We had more bites, but for some reason kept missing them. My son caught a 33-pound striper and had his limit that day. The next day I had three ladies, Vern, Joyce and Teresa, who had fished for stripers many times and differently knew how to hook and fight the fish. We hooked nine stripers and landed eight in a soft rain. We had a great time and they are looking forward next year.”

(updated 4-19-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake springtime fishing is at its best. Lou says this is one of his favorite times to fish the lake. All species of fish are in shallow water and they get a lot of good topwater action for striped, hybrid and white bass as well as largemouth and smallmouth bass. Artificial baits and live bait work equally well this time of year. Shad are spawning, as is typical for this time of year. The shad spawn really gets the fish excited. Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass fishing all were on fire the last week. Once the lake temperature reached the mid-60s the fish became active. Tuesday was a great example of spring topwater action. Several of Lou’s friends were out on the lake and they all were checking out different areas. One found the fish blowing up back in a cove at about 7 a.m. He gave Lou a call and they all had great fun for the next three hours. Lou said he was throwing a 5-inch pearl swimbait with a 3/8-ounce jighead, and a Zara Spook Jr. It is a blast to watch these fish blow up on topwater baits, Lou says. Best places to look for topwater action is partway back into the creeks and in the secondary coves in the creeks. Right now, Lou says, he has heard of topwater action in all parts of the lake so get out there and have some fun. The late afternoon bite has been great one day, then very hard to find the fish the next, but when you do find them they very well could be busting the surface.

Lou adds that largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing is also excellent at this time. Look in the same areas that the stripers are in, but mainly look at the shoreline. You will find the water boiling with shad right up on the rocks. The fish are pushing the shad in tight to the shore, then feeding at will. Tuesday they were in the same cove where they found stripers in, from 6 inches of water out to 6 feet. Both Lou’s Zara Spook and swimbait were picking up some very nice fish. The fish also wanted both of his baits worked very fast as they were in the chasing mood. As the day wears on, the largemouth will move out into a little deeper water so a jig-n- pig or some other plastic bait worked along the bottom will pick up some good-size bass. At sunset look at the very shallow water again as they will start to feed heavily on shad. The after-dark bite for large and smallmouth bass should be good. Lou says he personally hasn’t been out the, but typically they will be hanging around docks and shallow points. Dark-colored spinnerbaits and tube jigs are some of his favorites.

Lou adds, “Walleye, I bet you can guess, are in the same areas as the stripers and the largemouth. My swimbait is picking up some nice fish early in the morning and then again at sunset. The walleye are also starting to show up on the big shallow flats in 10-25 feet of water. Move slowly with your trolling motor with a bottom bouncer and crawler harness or a large shiner on a drop-shot rig.” He also says crappie are showing back up on brush in 20-30 feet of water. Most times you will find them suspended over the brush, so you need to keep testing different depths until you find the feeding fish. There will be a few nice fish still on the bank, so casting a small Road Runner will work and will also pick up other species. Hang on with your crappie rod because it is not uncommon the hook into a big striper while crappie fishing this time of year.

Norfork Lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 67 degrees. The water level has been fairly stable with a slight rise and currently sits at 551.36. The main lake is clearing and the creeks and coves are a little stained, but are clearing rapidly.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 4-26-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake rose 0.6 feet to rest at 2.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 28.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had less generation with more wadable water. Caddis season is on the wane. This is our best hatch of the year and it is still here. I fished the caddis hatch on the Norfork, with great success. With the lower lake levels we should have perfect flows to target this hatch. Before the hatch when the trout are feeding on the surface but you see no insects use a soft hackle like my green butt or a partridge and orange. When the trout begin to target insects, on the surface of the water, switch over to an elk hair caddis. Match your fly to the hatching insect based on size, shape and color.

Berry adds that there has been more wadable water on the Norfork but it has fished a bit better particularly if you can catch the caddis hatch. 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 16 elk hair caddis). The fishing is better in the morning. John’s favorite rig has been a hare and copper nymph with a ruby midge dropper. If you fish Dry Run Creak, 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 4-26-2017) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Buffalo National River is a bit high and off-color. With the warmer weather the smallmouths should be more active. John Berry’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering the Buffalo River. There are no dams and it has drainages and is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Crooked Creek

(updated 4-26-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Crooked Creek is a bit high and off-color. With the warmer weather the smallmouths should be more active. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek. There are no dams, large drainages and is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.