Cotter Trout Dock Sign
Established 1954
Catch a Rainbow!

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 20, 2017

No photos of our guided trout fishing customers taken this week at Cotter Trout Dock.  Pretty quiet around here this week.  Had a few trips out but few photographers :) 

Below is the
Fishing Report from Arkansas Game and Fish for 12-20-2017.

White River

(updated 12-20-2017) 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.

(updated 12-20-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) had no report.

(updated 12-20-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week, they have had no rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 feet to rest at 5.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.9 feet to rest at 2.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.7 feet to rest at 3.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 13.3 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had significant wadable water with some generation. On the White, the hot spot became 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 10 Y2K with a size 14 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down. John adds, “Last week I attended the North Arkansas Fly Fishers (NAFF) annual Christmas party. While I was there, I remembered that a couple of weeks ago I wrote a column about suggested Christmas gifts, for the fly fisher. One of the items that I was going to suggest was a membership in the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, our local fly fishing club. Unfortunately I did not have enough space to describe the many benefits of club memberships. I know a thing or two about fly-fishing clubs.
“When I lived in Memphis I was on the board of directors of the Mid South Fly Fishers, the local fly fishing club there for over 15 years and served as the president of the club for two terms. Our club interacted with NAFF on several occasions and I came to highly respect them. The first thing I did when I moved to Cotter 17 years ago was to join the North Arkansas Fly Fishers and I have never regretted it.
“The best thing that NAFF does is to put on the Sowbug Roundup, the premier fly-tying show in the South, and arguably one of the best fly-tying shows in the United States. This is a show that draws over 100 fly-tyers from all over the United States and several foreign countries. It draws an audience of over a thousand attendees from all over for the three-day event. A significant portion of the proceeds from this show, are used to fund $10,000 in local scholarships annually for students majoring in fisheries or related fields.
“The NAFF has also stepped up to the plate to fund several projects locally. They have made substantial contributions to important conservation projects such as the enhancement of Dry Run Creek to make it more accessible to children under 16 and the mobility-challenged. They helped fund the addition of diffusers to the Norfork National Fish Hatchery to help oxygenate the water in the hatchery raceways. They also built a set of steps at Round House Shoals to help anglers access the water and a pavilion at McCabe Park in Mountain Home.
“They have a monthly meeting every month that features a speaker on subjects of interest to all fly-fishers. This is a great place to meet other fly fishers in the area. I have met a lot of people through the club and have become friends. Many fishing trips are generated by attending a meeting. The club schedules several outings including a couple of picnics and a Christmas party every year. They sponsor two-day seminars featuring known fly-fishing personalities that are open to the public. They also teach fly-fishing and fly-tying classes as well as teaching fly-fishing to youth groups. Meetings are held on the third Tuesday of the month at 7 p.m. at the Van Matre Senior Center in Mountain Home and are open to the public. The May, September and December meetings are limited to club members. If this sounds like something that would interest you, please attend the next meeting. I think you will be glad you did.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 654.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 12-20-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.

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 549.78 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 12-20-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass are still in their fall pattern, but you can see signs of the bait and fish starting to transition to their normal winter patterns and locations. As the water cools, the bait tends to move out to deeper water and gets to a depth typically 40-60 feet deep. As you can guess, the big predators move with the bait. Over the last week Lou has concentrated on finding and trying to catch the trophy fish in Norfork Lake: striped bass. Normally this time of year Lou will fish large flats in the lake in 35-50 feet of water. Cranfield Island flat, Mallard Point flat, Highway 101 bridge flat, and Big Sandy Flat east of the 101 Boat Dock are Lou’s typical fishing holes, he says. This year it has been a little different from prior years. Lou and his guests have found large schools of striped and hybrid bass on these flats, but it has been hit or miss. If the bigger fish are not there, you can just about be guaranteed that white bass will be on the flats. Some of the whites he has caught were in the 2- to 3-pound range. Lou says he moved around the last week and started fishing way up creek near 6B in Bennetts Bayou and found stripers but they started to move out toward the main lake during the week. Large schools of stripers moved a couple of miles out of the creek to slightly warmer water and are located south and east of the 6A marker, in 35-50 feet of water. He said he decided Tuesday to check out a creek in the mid-lake area. The water gets a little warmer as you head south. He started fishing a little before sunrise and saw shad flipping. When he got closer to the bait a large school of fish showed up. He had two live bait poles out with threadfin shad and was vertical-jigging with a spoon. He hooked up on all three rods at the same time.
“What a fun dilemma! My fish on the spoon came unhooked and one of the live bait poles broke off, but I did manage to land a really big hybrid. I could see the bait starting to move out of the cove so I followed. I ran into the school again and landed a couple more hybrids and a couple of whites. The fish continued to move out and I found them one more time. It was a lot of fun for an hour or so,” he said.
Lou then moved out to the main part of Float Creek and marked bait with scattered bigger fish and got plenty of bites on live bait, but they would only take the back half of his baits, so no hookups after the early morning schools of feeding fish. A friend was trolling in the same area and the fish were loving it. He had one hookup after another; it was fun watching, Lou said. The scattered fish were suspended about 10-20 feet down, but as the morning wore on Lou was marking them close to the bottom around 35-40 feet deep.
Norfork Lake water level is falling slowing with sporadic power generation and currently sits at 549.84 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature ranges from 52.5 degrees to 54.5 degrees depending what part of the lake. The water is still stained with the main lake having about a 5-6 feet visibility. Great fishing conditions on Norfork Lake at this time.
Lou adds that Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's annual fishing derby has come to a close with a lot of fun for our guests during the year. The winners of each species won $350. The winner of the big striped bass was John James of Illinois, big crappie winner was Joe Cebula of Kansas, and the big smallmouth bass was won by Debbie Biesboer of Illinois. The winner of the free week stay drawing was Karen and Dan Solverson of Wisconsin. Congratulations to all. Details about their 2018 Derby will be coming in the new year.

(updated 12-20-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says the Norfork Lake striper fishing is hot right now. The stripers are feeding on flats in the 30-40 foot range around Crystal Cove and then up to Fouts. Large schools of shad are roaming the flats and the stripers are cruising within the shad. Tom says he fished Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on the flat in front of Fout Boat Dock using small shad and caught stripers the whole time he fished. Since it was only for fun with friends, they stopped each day after that had enough to eat. Right now the bite is lasting all day. You may not see many fish for a time, then a large school will swim by and everything goes crazy. Stripers are also being caught near Blue Lady. The best bait to catch stripers are shad, shiners and spoons. Trollers using umbrella rigs are having great success. They are running the baits at 30 feet at 3 mph. Find the bait and the stripers, hybrids and white bass will be feeding on them.
Tom adds that Christmas week is usually the best winter striper fishing. This year looks like a major cold snap is coming, so Tom expects to see the bait move out of the shallow waters and 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 40 feet. You should see large bait balls with stripers on top and inside the ball. Set your bait right above the shad since most of the fish are staying inside the bait balls, 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

(updated 12-20-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.9 feet to rest at 3.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 29.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfok had light generation and significant wadable water last week. 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

(updated 12-20-2017) 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 colder 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.