Cotter Trout Dock Sign
Established 1954
Catch a Rainbow!

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 13, 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 13, 2017.

White River

(update 12-6-2017) 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 12-13-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said there was no activity to report on.

(update 12-13-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week, that had just a trace or rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 feet to rest at 5.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.5 feet to rest at 1.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 17.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.7 feet to rest at 3 feet below seasonal power pool and 12.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had significant wadable water with little or no generation. The hot spot shifted to Buffalo 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 10 Y2K with a sizSiee 14 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
John added, “This morning when I got up and began loading my river boat, I noticed that there was a really heavy frost on my windshield. It took several minutes to scrape it all off. It was well below freezing and my hands were frozen stiff before I finished. For my day of fishing, it was definitely a cold start. As I was drifting, I thought that this day would probably be better suited to tying flies rather than fishing. Don’t get me wrong: I love fishing in the winter, but sometimes it is very rewarding to be tying flies in front of a roaring fire.
“While we all need to restock our fly boxes after a long busy season, the Sowbug Roundup is coming up on March 22-24 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. This is a fly-tying show and the premier fly-fishing related show in the area. An integral part of the Sowbug Roundup is the fly-tying contest, and I am the chairman.
“I really enjoy doing it. I invite each of you to enter the contest. There are 10 categories: nymph, dry fly, wet fly, streamer, smallmouth bass, bass, warm water, salmon/steelhead, salt water and tenkara. In addition, there is a best in show. The winners of each category and the best in show will receive a plaque (the perfect thing to hang over your tying desk). The real prize is the bragging rights for winning.
“Rules have been kept to a minimum. The entrant must tie the fly submitted for judging. Each entry must include the name, address, phone number and email address along with two flies for each pattern submitted (they must be exactly the same size, color, etc.). You need to include the recipe for the fly, instructions on how to fish it and the category you wish to have it judged in. You may submit as many patterns for as many categories as you want. You can win a maximum of three categories (best in show is considered a category). All flies submitted will become the property of the contest and will not be returned. Any fly that contains insect parts (legs, wings, etc.) will be eliminated from competition. Commercially tied patterns will not be accepted. The decision of the judges is final. Committee members and judges are not eligible to participate in the contest.
To participate, all you have to do is send your flies, recipes and fishing instructions to me, John Berry, at 408 Combs Ave. Cotter, AR 72626 by Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2018. The winners will be announced on Friday, March 23, 2018, at the Sowbug Roundup Shindig, which will be held at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church beginning at 6 p.m. This event has become the top fly-fishing social event of the year. I hope that all of the fly-tyers out there will enter the contest. In the past, we have had some great entries and we expect nothing less this year.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 653.76 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

No reports.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 550.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(update 12-13-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been good, but different from prior fall seasons. Fish are located pretty much in the same areas as prior years, but they are much more scattered rather than schooled up in tight schools of feeding fish. Lou says that when he finds a school of fish, they are located at all depths and not bunched up. This is not a bad thing, but does make him change his fishing tactics a bit. Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass are being found in several different types of areas. They are located on the flats, and the striped bass are also scattered in deeper water back in the major creeks. Lou says he typically starts out in the morning at sunrise and starts checking out the flats near his resort, Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. He first checks out the Mallard Point flat, he may go to the Cranfield Island flat, then head to the Highway 101 bridge flat and if needed he motors over to Big Sandy flat a little past 101 Boat Dock. He is looking at depths from 25 feet of water out to 45 feet of water. What he has found the last couple of days is that the fish are in 25-30 feet of water at sunrise and seem to stick around for an hour or two. As the morning wears on, they move out to deeper water and Monday at around 11 a.m. he says he found them in 42 feet of water. He has caught big hybrids and big whites on the flats, but the stripers that he has caught on the flats have been small. The bigger stripers will move to the flats very soon. The last couple of days Lou fished the 6B area and landed a really nice striped bass on live bait, but Monday he fished the same area and the bait and fish had disappeared. He says he believes the 53-degree water has gotten a little too cool for the shad so they are migrating out to deeper water, and the stripers are following. Lou marked lots of shad and many striped bass in front of Fout marina as he was heading back to the Big Sandy area. The stripers are scattered throughout the area making them tough to catch with a spoon. Trolling or casting A-Rigs or swimbaits may be the easiest method to pick up these scattered fish and, as always, live bait will work wonders, but you will need to keep moving around until you come across the fish that want to eat. The stripers that Lou has found in deeper water are still suspended from 15 feet of water down to 40 feet of water and typically near bait. You will run across that big school of fish, so when you do, vertical-jigging a spoon will work great. Lou has not been up to the Red Bank area, but he says he would think the fish that have been up in the Missouri waters are also migrating somewhat south to a slightly higher water temperature.
Largemouth bass fishing has been a little tough, but you can pick up some really nice fish in deeper water. For about the first hour as the sun is rising there are many bass up in shallow water. Many of the bass are small, but you will pick up the occasional nice-sized fish. Shallow diving crankbaits, jerkbaits and topwater baits are picking up a few fish. As the sun rises, the fish are going a little deeper. Start casting out a jig and pig in 15-25 feet of water along bluff line points and in areas where the channel is swinging in close to shore. Another good location is close to sunken brush. Lou says he was striper fishing with live bait the other morning and also jigging a spoon. Lou got into about 25 feet of water and started to pick up a few largemouth off of the bottom. On those windy days go to the wind-blown banks and try casting spinnerbaits. Windy days are always a great time to pick up some really nice fish.
Norfork Lake level is dropping slowly with some power generation going on and currently sits at 550.68 feet msl as of Tuesday. The lake surface water temperature is dropping slowly. It ranges from 55.5 degrees on the main lake to 53 degrees back in the major creeks. The water is clearing slightly on the main lake with maybe 5-6 feet of visibility to stained in the creeks and coves.

(update 12-13-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says the striper bite on Norfork Lake is very good right now. The stripers are feeding on flats in the 30-40-foot range. There are large schools of shad roaming the flats and the stripers are cruising within the shad. Tom pre-fished Friday on the flat near 6B using small shad and at one time had five stripers on the lines. He and his party managed to catch all of them and for the next hour we landed eight more. The wind was blowing hard, so he quit. Stripers are also being caught near Blue Lady. The best bait to catch stripers are shad, shiners and spoons. Find the bait and the stripers, hybrids and white bass will be feeding on them. As the weather turns colder in December the stripers will move to their winter feeding grounds. The best places to find them is Float Creek, 101 Area, Bidwell Point, the flat above the Highway 101 bridge, and the channel between the U.S. 62 and Highway 101 bridge. The bait will settle in depth ranges from 40-80 feet but most of the time the range will be about 40 feet. You should see large bait balls with stripers on top and inside the balls. Set your bait right above the shad since most of the fish are staying inside the bait balls and then coming up in big bunches to feed. Small shad works great but large shiners and spoons will also work now and through to spring.

Norfork Tailwater

(update 12-13-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 2.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw light generation and significant wadable water. The water remains stained, and it has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things changed during flooding earlier this year. There was 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 (#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 12-13-2017) 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.