Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 10, 2017

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 10, 2017.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 5-10-2017)  Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says “Celebrate: The sun is shining, no rain for several days and we're beginning to dry out.” Water levels on the tailwaters of Bull Shoals Dam have remained normal and fishing is good. Water clarity is great after the days of dinginess from creek runoff, continuing to improve downriver from Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River. Panther Martins, yellow with red spots and a gold blade, are working well. The brown bite has switched back and forth between sculpins and minnows – keep both on hand if possible. Those zig jigs have made a comeback: just determine which color is working for the water depth and sky conditions, and you'll catch any kind of fish in the river; black/olive 1/8-ounce was a hit this past week, tri-olive does the trick most often. Expect heavy generation from Bull Shoals Dam in the coming days. Deeper water means more drift fishing, no wading opportunities – but the trout love lots of water and they are feisty and healthy when they get it. Stop in on your way to the river.
(updated 5-10-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that last week they experienced several rain events (combined for 5 inches in Cotter, which included a flash flood watch), warm temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 22.2 feet to rest at 26.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 660.57 feet. This is 7.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 12.2 feet to rest at 15.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.6 feet above the top of flood pool. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened several flood gates to release an additional 13,800 cfs in an effort to lower the lake. Beaver Lake rose 2.7 feet to rest at 8 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Corps of Engineers has opened several flood gates to release an additional 3,700 cubic feet per second in an effort to lower the lake. On the White, we had no wadable water with some generation. All of the lakes in the White River System are over or near the top of flood pool. We should expect a lot of generation with little if any wadable water in the near future. On the White, the water below Crooked Creek and the Buffalo is high and muddy. There has been some flooding. 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 15 hare and copper nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). John also says, "For the past few months, we have been enjoying one of the longest periods of low, reliable, wadable water that I can remember. It was so low this past February that it all but eliminated our traditional streamer season. You need high water to push the big browns to the bank in order to target them with the big streamers, and we had low flows all winter. The low water has been a boon to the caddis hatch. The low flows have been a perfect delivery system for dry flies this spring. The wadable water has rapidly come to an end, however. "We had a heavy rain that flooded Crooked Creek and the Buffalo. In addition, the lake levels on Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes all rose significantly. Then a couple of days later we had what has been described by the Weather Channel as a hundred year rain. It rained for two days. This time the ground was super saturated and we had significantly more runoff. All of the lakes in the White River system rose even more. Beaver, Table Rock and Norfork are at or near the top of flood pool and all opened their flood gates in an effort to draw them down quickly. Bull Shoals rose 34 feet in a week. As I write this, it is raining again and over 2 inches are expected. "What does this mean for fishing? With all of the lakes at or near the top of flood pool, we will have high water for the rest of spring and well into the summer. I do not expect wadable water until fall. The fish are still there but you will need a boat to fish the White and Norfork. The best way to fish during the high water will be to fish nymphs under an indicator. You will need to fish deep. I generally set my nymph rigs at about 4 feet from the indicator to the bottom fly. I then add a foot of depth for each full generator (roughly 3,000 cfs). This is a rough estimate and I will make adjustments for depth and current at specific spots on the river. If I am hanging the bottom, I reduce the depth and, if I am not getting fish, I increase it. "Weight is also a key factor. I generally use heavy split shot. My favorite for this type of fishing is AAA (0.8 grams). I use a lead-free egg-shaped split shot as it hangs on better. I attach it above my tippet knot to keep it from slipping. I also prefer to use heavily weighted flies particularly bead heads tied on jig hooks. My top flies for this type of fishing include pheasant tails, hare and copper, copper Johns, prince nymphs and ruby midges. I favor doubl- fly rigs and fluorocarbon leaders and tippets as they sink more quickly than monofilament. Casting these rigs is difficult at best. Open up your loop and be sure and not rush your cast. Do not false cast, as this is an invitation to tangle. "Now is also a good time to fish streamers. Heavy sink-tip fly lines, big streamers and larger fly rods are the norm here. Here again, the casting is tough and a lot of work. This technique does not produce numbers but can attract a trophy. Fishing high water can be very productive. Give it a try!"

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 691.13 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 5-10-2017) K Dock Marina reported it is closed until further notice due to flood conditions.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 577.13 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).
(updated 5-10-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says the rain has stopped and Norfork Lake is slowly going down. The northern part of the lake is full of debris and mud but that will start to disappear in the next several weeks. Blowing wind helps the lake by moving the debris to the shoreline where it gets stuck, and as the lake goes down the debris will remain in place. The mud will disappear has the water up north returns to normal. The lower part of the lake from Diamond Bay south and from Big Creek to the dam is mostly free of trees, limbs and other debris, and water color is clear to stained. It is a good place to start your day. What most people do not realize was the lower end of the lake did not receive the major runoff from the flood. The water rose from the water coming to the dam, therefore the southeast part of the lake is the place to fish. The stripers are continuing to feed heavy on threadfin shad and should keep this up for the next several weeks.
Tom says they had some dear friends Alice, Dennis, and Logan that came down last weekend for two days of striper fishing. They wanted to introduce their grandson Logan to the lake and fishing. Saturday they got a late start but did manage to put five of the seven stripers they hooked. Logan, who is 6, caught his first striper and his limit. Logan keep telling his grandpa that his fish was bigger and he caught more than grandpa. A true fisher person was created that day. Sunday, Tom’s son, Sean, came along to help out. They started earlier and caught seven of the nine they hooked. Alice, who never had caught a fish, caught two, which made her day. Again, Logan caught the most and biggest and made sure everybody knew. The grandparents’ mission was accomplished. They created some lasting memories of their grandson’s first fishing trip on Norfork Lake. Tom says he and the group were using threadfin shad on long lines with just a split shot and leader way back from the boat over deep water 60 plus feet.
(updated 5-3-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the last two weeks on Norfork Lake have been very interesting, to say the least. They have gone from great spring weather, to cold fronts, to a major rain event that increased the lake level to the top of the flood pool. Fishing was fantastic up through last Saturday morning, then the severe weather started to impact the lake. Norfork Lake started rising a foot an hour at around 5 p.m. Saturday and continued to rise until the flood gates on the dam were opened to increase water evacuation. As of Tuesday, the lake was stable and was slowly falling and at 578.65 feet msl. There is still some floating debris, but a lot of it is starting to blow into the shoreline, and as the lake drops it will get hung up in the flooded trees. The lake is navigable, but when out on the lake be very cautious and observant of floating debris. The water north of the Highways 101 and 62 bridges is still dirty and the clearer and stained water starts just south of the 101 and 62 bridge. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort is in great shape and open for business. The dock is easily accessible with electric and the fish cleaning station still in operation.
As for fishing conditions on Norfork Lake, Lou says the flooding of normally dry land has forced nightcrawlers to come to the surface and the fish are starting to have a feast. If you fish for catfish the combination of dirty water and a large supply of worms is ideal to catch many cats. Lou says he has had guests fishing from the shoreline off of a flooded roadway below the resort and landing some nice catfish. Limblines and trotlines will also be a great method to catch big numbers of cats. On Tuesday, a couple of guests ventured out on the lake after sunrise and found some clearer water. They were fishing with shiners and caught a nice smallmouth and largemouth bass. If you can find a flooded field or cow pasture that had been grassy you will clean up on bass feeding on nightcrawlers and crawdads. Each stable day will help increase the bite and get the fish very active.
Lou says he has not heard a lot about striper fishing since last weekend's rain, but from prior high-water experience you will need to find the clearer water. Shad will be in the trees and the stripers will be on the edges of the flooded trees feeding on the shad. It may take several days for the fish to get used to their new surroundings, but if it is similar to past high-water years the fishing will become really good. Lou says he has not been able to get out on the lake with all the new resort work this rain created, but he hopes to get back at it toward the end of the week, and he’ll have updates as soon as he can. The water temperature Tuesday morning was in the mid-60s. A lot of the lake is dirty, but you will find some nice stained and clear water back in some of the major creeks and in the southern part of the main lake.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 5-10-2017) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake rose 9 feet to rest at 6.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.32 feet and 0.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened several flood gates to release an additional 6,600 cfs in an effort to lower the lake. On the Norfork, we had no wadable water. There has been flooding on the Norfork and the river level is quite high due to the flood gates being open in an effort to drop the lake level. The ramps have been closed due to flooding and debris on them. Navigate this stream with extreme caution. 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). The fishing is better in the morning. My favorite rig has been a hare and copper nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has been affected by the flooding but has returned to its banks. 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 5-10-2017) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Buffalo National River is at flood level and not navigable. With the warmer 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 and the Buffalo has large drainages that are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Crooked Creek

(updated 5-10-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Crooked Creek is at flood level and not navigable. With the warmer 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, large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.