Cotter Trout Dock Sign
Established 1954
Catch a Rainbow!

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 6, 2017

There are no photos of our guided trout fishing customers taken this week at Cotter Trout Dock. 
Below is the Fishing Report from Arkansas Game and Fish for December 6, 2017.

White River

(update 11-29-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said that while many are turning their thoughts and energy toward Christmas (and rightly so) and hunkering down for the colder months, the folks there are still finding plenty of rainbows and browns willing to leave the comfort of their favorite hidey-holes to meet you where you're at – but you have to be somewhere on the river. The water level below Bull Shoals Dam down past Cotter and beyond is very low, at minimum flow or below, so find some attractive bait to lure the trout out. Flashy gold Cleos should work well in this water, as well as the silver-blue hammered spoons. Fish for a sculpin to put on your hook for brown trout bait, although keep in mind it's spawning season and many browns will be ignoring your bait unless it's especially pesky. Kids will be looking for Christmas vacation adventures. PowerBait and shrimp are reliable baits to help them catch a few rainbows. The weatherman promises very mild daytime temperatures for the next week, so pick up your rod and reel, get outside, and come join us on the river.

(update 11-29-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said not a lot of people of fish. Minimum flow all the way. Clarity was fair, not as clear as it normally is. Several fly-fishermen were wading and did pretty well. Most of the fish were caught in midges or Woolly Buggers. Biggest fish caught was a 15-inch brown. The drift fishing for rainbow, several were caught but they were small (9-10 inches, stockers probably). Browns will be headed for their spawn and once that’s done, things will pick up nicely.

(update 12-6-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week they had no rain, cool temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.6 feet to rest at 5 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.8 feet to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 17.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.2 feet to rest at 2.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.9 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, anglers saw significant wadable water with little or no generation. The hot spot continues to be 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). Doublefly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite is a size 10 Y2K with a size 14 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
About this time of year, John starts eyeing Christmas. He says, “Last week was Thanksgiving, so it is now time to think about Christmas. The problem is always what to get the flyfisher on your shopping list. I spent a bit of time thinking about what I use or would like to get and thought it would be a good idea, to share that information, with you.
“The first thing that comes to mind is a new fly rod. There is a dizzying array of fly rods out there and there are some pretty high prices ($800 and higher) on some of them. I would like to suggest a reasonably priced one. I recommend the Lefty Kreh professional series. In a two piece rod, it is only $124.95 and a four-piece is $169.95. It comes with a lifetime guarantee. I own six of these and use them as client rods in my guide business. When my wife, Lori, and I fish together, we often use them because they are already in my Suburban and are usually rigged up and ready to go. I do not think the high-dollar rods I have fish or cast any better. It is the best rod for the money.
“Another great gift is a new net. My suggestion is the Fishpond Nomad net. They are a bit pricey but well worth it. They have carbon fiber frames, which are lightweight and impervious to damage from water. They even float. The net bags are clear rubber. This makes the light and flies do not get caught up in them as bad as cloth bags. They are great for fishing multiple fly rigs. Lori and I both have boat nets that feature a long handle and a big bag. They are perfect for the boat or Dry Run Creek. I also have a hand net with a big bag and a short handle for carrying on the back of my vest. We both love them and use them every time we fish.
“I wear gloves every time I fish, to protect my hands from the sun. I have a fair complexion and burn easily. When it is cold, I wear Simms fingerless wool gloves ($24.95), so that I can easily tie on flies. They really keep my hands warm. When the weather is a bit warmer, I use the Simms Solarflex guide gloves ($49.95). They are fingerless to allow me to tie on flies and still protect my hands from the sun. They have leather palms to help protect my hands from boat paddles. They are great for kayaking.
“Don’t forget your dog. Dublin Dog Collar makes a waterproof dog collar that features a trout skin pattern ($28). The make it in brown, rainbow or brook trout. Our English Labrador Retriever, Tillie, wears one in the brook trout pattern and we think it looks great. Since it is waterproof, we don’t worry when she takes a swim. I hope I have given you some ideas.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 653.97 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(update 11-22-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said last Saturday that the lake level was at 652 feet msl and the surface water temperature was 62 degrees, give or take, depending on where you were fishing. The fish are moving around. Some of the creeks have tons of shad in them. If it’s warm in the back, then fish the flats. The water temperature is right and there’s a little bit of water coming in and there’s a ton of shad in the back. Those fish are relating to shad, isolated cover, brush piles – so, once you go back there, if the water’s dirty you can go spinnerbait, gold blades, War Eagle spinner. You’ll do fine in the brush piles back there. You want to be 2-10 feet or right off the shoreline or right by the bush, and the last bit of deep water will hold some fish. You can catch them on a jig. Del has been using half-ounce or 5/16-ounce jigs trailing with either a Rage Tail or straight Beaver. When Dell is flipping into cover, he sayd, you catch some of the fish in the middle of the brush piles. Any kind of wood is going to be holding a couple of fish right now. If it gets cold overnight, those fish will move back out early and then they’ll go back in throughout the day. The fish using the channels as they’re moving in and out of the creek are following the old channels and the channel swings. They’re sitting on the transitions of those channel swings, be it bluff rock or big rock, and any of those channel swings seem to be holding a couple of fish. Del is using Rock Crawler or Wiggle Warts in those areas. As for colors the Rock Crawler red crawl is working, green crawl is working as well. With a Wiggle Wart, you want to be parallel the bank, look for the wind and keep the boat relative to the wind in shallow water (10-15 feet). If it’s windy and cloudy you can be right up by the shoreline, he said. Those fish are keyed in on the bigger-size chunk rock of the shore. But don’t be afraid to go into a windblown pocket either. Just keep an eye on the shad, the birds and the wind. Del and other anglers have reported seen a lot of loons and seagulls move in, so if you’re going into the creeks, he says, keep eye out for those birds as they are going to be keyed in the shad. Your points in the back of the creeks are holding more of the drop-shot fish right now. Del is using either Dream Shot or shaky head; just use 5/16-ounce head with a green pumpkin and a Zoom worm, watermelon red, green pumpkin red. The shad-shape worms are working. Those drop-shot fish seem to be anywhere from 26-32 feet to as deep as 40 feet. That bite is not quite hot yet, but as the temperature drops, those fish will start congregating more and more.

K Dock Marina has closed for the season. It will reopen in March.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 551.45 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(update 11-29-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake had a great spawn this year. There are many white bass, largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass in this lake. When you are fishing you will catch many smaller fish, but you will catch your fair share of the larger hybrids, stripers, crappie, white bass and large and smallmouth bass as well. Lou says he had many of his family members there over the holiday and they got to fish most days. They caught many fish, not a lot of the big stripers and hybrids, but they did manage to land a few. “As you would guess, as soon as all had to leave I started to find hybrids early in the morning in the same areas where we were fishing,” he said.
Lou says he’s still fishing the flats and has found that at daybreak there are big fish feeding in shallower water. He landed big 10-pound hybrids the last two days sitting in 17 feet of water and casting out a Kastmaster. When he retrieves his bait he lets it sink about 6 to 8 seconds, then he reels a little, then jerk and let it sink a little, then start it all over again until it gets to the boat. The fish have typically hit the bait while it is falling. Lou guesses he is 8-15 feet deep with his bait. After this early morning bite he has been vertical-jigging with a spoon. He looks for the bait and typically will find the fish feeding. He drops a spoon to the fish and start jigging. Most of his fish are off the bottom, but he is seeing many suspended fish which appear to be the bigger ones. You want to reel up to the suspended fish and jig at their level. He has been fishing several flats, Big Sandy a little east of the Highway 101 boat dock, the flat in front of Fout ramp and campground, the flat before you get to 6B, which is called “the cow pasture.” Going west of the Gabric’s resort, Hummingbird Hideaway Resort, Lou has fished the big flat in front of Mallard Point, Cranfield Island flat and heading up river to Seward Point flat. There are whites on all these flats and you will run into schooling hybrids and stripers at any time. Lou says he has had a friend fishing Big Creek with live shiners and doing very well back by 1C and Reynolds Island for striped and hybrid bass.
Crappie are biting fairly well. They are on brush in 20-35 feet of water and can be at any level depending on the time of day you are fishing. The crappie are mostly on the brush, but have been moving off the brush in towards the shoreline later in the day. Live bait is working the best, but spoons and small jigs are still picking up some nice sized fish. Bass fishing has not really changed from the last report. Lou is still finding them on the flats in 30 feet of water feeding on shad. Typically when Lou finds them they are on the outside edge of the flat which is coming close to a deep channel or an old creek channel. Jigging with a spoon works best to catch these fish, but casting out a heavy jig will also pick up these fish. You could also try a finesse Ned Rig once you locate the fish. Crankbaits are also picking up a lot of fish, most on the small side, but with several keepers. Look at casting on the windblown points along the bluff lines. Jigging around brush piles is also a very good area to pick up some nice fish. Bait is typically inside of the brush, so the bass will be hanging around the outside of the brush wait to ambush that stray shad.
Lou says he has had guests walleye fishing and doing well right before and just after dark, casting suspending jerkbaits up to the shore on the shallow banks. The moon is starting to get big, so the walleye bite will even get better after dark.
Norfork Lake level is falling very slowly, and currently sat at 551.73 feet msl as of Tuesday. The lake surface water temperature is 58-60 degrees and falling very slowly. The water is still stained both on the main lake as well as in the creeks and coves. The water clarity will get clearer the closer you get to the dam.

(update 11-22-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says stripers on Norfork Lake continue to feed during the day on flats in the 30-foot range. There are large schools of shad roaming the flats and the stripers are cruising within the shad. Tom said he pre-fished Friday on the flat pass Fout Boat Dock and found large schools of stripers and hybrids. What Tom found was large bait balls from 20 feet to the bottom in water depths of 30 feet. You may not see many fish while you are watching your depth finder. This is due to the fish staying inside the bait balls and then coming up in big bunches to feed. Tom had seven live bait rods out with lines set at 15 feet and 20 feet. Tom also had two free lines out with a small split-shot in the back of both about 50 feet. Tom said he was using small shad but large shiners will also work now and thorough to spring. The stripers will continue to feed for winter until the water gets cold enough to drive the shad to deeper water. Tom says he would concentrate on the flats in the mid-lake area. As it gets colder the shad and stripers will just move to their winter feeding grounds around Blue Lady, Float, Bidwell Point and between the bridges. The best places right now are the flat above Blue Lady, Fouts Flat and Bennetts Bayou although Tom says he has received reports of stripers and crappie being caught near the 1C area to the east of Hand Cove Resort and Jordan Marina. Modern gun deer and duck season are now open. So November is the best month for the Arkansas sports person. If you do not have a place to deer or duck hunt give STR Outfitters a call; they offer guided deer, duck and pheasant hunting trips.

Norfork Tailwater

(update 12-6-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at 2.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, anglers saw light generation and significant wadable water. The water is stained and the lake is turning over resulting in low dissolved oxygen. It has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit from flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. 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. John’s favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worm with a pheasant tail dropper (size 10).
Dry Run Creek is stained but still fishing well. The brown trout have moved in for the spawn. The hot flies have been size 14 sowbugs, size 12 Y2Ks 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/Crooked Creek

(update 12-6-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. With the cooler weather the smallmouths are less active. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.