Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 10, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report January 10, 2018.

White River

(update 1-10-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) owners said they’re looking ahead to the new year and seeing lots of opportunities for trout anglers, young and old. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has introduced a few new regulations to the White River trout management system hoping to answer the "We want bigger trout" demands, so it will be fun to watch and assist from the onset. Water releases from Bull Shoals Dam are remaining steady at just under 2,500 cfs the last few days, the lake is approximately 8 feet below power pool. This past week, with significant weather fluctuations, we've been catching rainbows with a mashup of shrimp and corn; the browns have responded well to jigs and river minnows, especially redfin minnows if you can find them. Lunker brown fishing is just around the corner as the end of the spawning season is upon us. Hope to see you in 2018 … the coffee's on and the trout are biting.

(update 1-10-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water was not quite clear. River level is high. Generators are running periodically. No one has been fishing of late there.

(update 1-10-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, they had no rain, brutally cold temperatures (to include wind chill advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.2 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 0.6 feet to rest at 5.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 21.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 1.3 feet to rest at 5.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.3 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had no water with more generation. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of power pool. With the brutally cold weather we should expect more generation to provide for increased energy demand.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam will be closed through Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.
On the White, the hot spot has been 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 also said, “Recently we had highs as low as 14 degrees and lows down to 4. With wind speeds of 5-10 mph, the wind chill dropped below zero. The Army Corps of Engineers were running water, presumably to generate electricity needed to heat homes. There was little wadable water anywhere so all of the action was in the boat. Believe it or not there were anglers on the river. Several of us guides were on the clock. It was brutally cold. The only way to survive all day in conditions like this is to dress properly.
“The trick is to dress in layers. Next to your skin you should wear long underwear. There are several good choices. Polypropylene is a synthetic frequently made from recycled soda bottles and is machine washable. It wicks moisture away from the body and keeps you dry. Dry is warm. Silk is an organic fiber that also wicks moisture and has a soft luxurious feel to it. Wool is another organic fiber that has the advantage of keeping 60 percent of its insulating properties when wet. It can be a bit scratchy but merino wool is very comfortable and is machine washable. Cotton long underwear should be avoided. If it gets wet, it cools as the water evaporates. I am a big fan of wool.
“The next layer is the insulating layer. The favored materials here are fleece and wool. Fleece is basically the same material as polypropylene, only thicker and denser. It is very warm and comfortable. Wool is also great as it is warm even when wet. Down is a great insulating material but loses is insulating properties when wet. Cotton should be avoided. You can wear multiple layers. The colder it is, the more layers you wear as air is trapped between them.
“The final layer is the wind shell. This keeps the wind from entering the insulating layer or layers and robbing you of the stored heat there. A rain suit is a great choice provided it is breathable. If not, moisture could build up and chill you. Gore-Tex is a great choice, as is waxed cotton. Breathable waders work well. There are several garments that combine an insulating layer with a wind shell. I have a couple of jackets that are fleece on the inside and have a breathable windproof shell on the outside. I also have several pairs of pants that are similarly constructed.
“Pay particular attention to your hands. I wear wool fingerless gloves when the temperature is above freezing. When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, I am looking for heavy wool or fleece gloves with a wind proof shell. This is a problem when I have to tie knots or attach a new fly. I have to remove my gloves and that hurts. Therefore I carry disposable hand warmers in my pockets to warm my hands when they get cold. I always require that my wind shells and waders have hand warmer pockets.
“Your feet can take a real hit. I wear sock liners made from polypropylene to wick moisture from my feet. I then wear heavy wool or wool blend socks. I have wader boots and winter boots that are sized to wear multiple pairs of socks. I have one pair of winter boots that are lined with Gore-Tex and Thinsulate, a synthetic insulating material that is great when the weather is brutally cold.
“Finally you need to keep your head warm. Wool is the fabric of choice here. A watch cap under a hood is good, and a hat with a brim is better to shade your eyes from the sun or any precipitation. Mine has a brim, earflaps and is lined with Gore-Tex and Thinsulate. To keep your face warm, you can wear a ski mask. I prefer a neck scarf that I can pull up over my face. I have a cashmere scarf that belonged to my brother, Dan, that I wear whenever it is cold. It is soft, warm and reminds me of him.
“If you keep all of this in mind, you can easily survive weather like this and be out there when everyone else is sitting the weather out.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 653.60 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(update 1-10-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the surface water temperature Tuesday was 49 degrees. Fishing has been hit or miss, kind of like the weather. There is a bunch of different going going on, a bunch of different bites that are working, so you can kind of catch them however you like to catch them. If you have some wind and clouds, but primarily wind, guys are still catching fish using the Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart. Del said he is going about halfway back in the creeks and working his way out toward the the stepper banks, the chunk rock and and bluff-style banks. That seems to be it for the crankbait bite but you really do need the wind to do a little bit better than if it’s sunny and flat. If it gets sunny on you, you have some options, thoug. The jerkbait bite, Del prefers a little wind with it, but it’s good if sun’s out. He’s throwing the Mega Bass, throwing that up around the docks along the bluffs. Also anglers can pick up a few fish on a jig right now. There is also deep bite going on. Del suggests fishing the old channel to get out of the steeper banks, the chunk-style rocks, and work some of the points that have brush piles on them. There is a deep bite starting at 35-45 feet, if you like fishing a spoon. It’s been a crazy winter, he said. Del says he will be attending several boat shows in the region in coming weeks, if you want to visit about a new boat or to just talk some fishing. Check the website link above for some of the events he’ll be attending, as well as upcoming spring fishing tournaments on Bull Shoals. He also urges anglers that if you go out, be sure to bundle up.

(update 1-10-2018) 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 547.85 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(update 1-10-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake's fish have moved to their wintertime pattern. The lake water temperature Tuesday morning had dropped to 44.5-45.5 degrees in the main lake (near the resort) and cooler back in the shallower creeks and coves. With the drop in lake water temperature, shad tend to move to deep water. Lou has been marking a lot of bait in the main river channel predominantly 30- 40 feet deep in 70-100+ feet of water. Lou also checked out some flats and the bait typically started to show up when he got to 40-45 feet of water and was suspended from 30 feet to the bottom.
Lou says it has been a while since he last reported, and has actually been a couple weeks since he has been on the lake. Lou and his wife visited their grandkids in Texas over the holidays, but he is back fishing Norfork Lake. Over the last two days he spent a lot of time looking and graphing to see what the bait and fish have been doing. He mainly has been searching for striped and hybrid bass. On Monday, Jan. 8, he headed east out of their resort to the bridges. This is typically a great wintertime place to catch striped bass. He marked some bait but very few fish. He then checked north of the bridges and found bait in the mouth of the cove near the Highway 101 boat dock, but was not marking many fish. With the amount of bait in this area, there will be fish there very soon. Of course he checked out several areas between the resort and the 101 Boat Dock area, but nothing he saw was very exciting. One of his friends told Lou he had been trolling and catching stripers north of Cranfield, so Lou headed back toward the resort and went up river. Again he found bait, but this time he also marked fish. No schools, but a lot of 2-3 fish swimming together fairly consistently. He started fishing in about 50 feet of water in the mouths of several coves. He was vertical-jigging with a 1-ounce spoon and found fish suspended 30 feet down. He spooned up a nice hybrid and a striped bass. He then headed over to the river channel and started to head up river a little farther. Lou found bait 40 feet down in 80 feet of water and started marking fish on top of the bait, so he started spooning again. He got four big pulldowns, but missed them all. “I guess I need to practice more on my hook-setting technique for these deep water fish,” he said laughing. “The fish were actually inside of the bait. I had some guests fishing the same area, but slightly farther north in the channel and they landed three nice stripers with one over 20 pounds. My guests were using live shiners set at about 30 feet down.” Tuesday morning Lou headed back toward Cranfield and checked out several other areas, but ended up in the river channel and again found fish buried inside of the bait 40 feet down, but he had the same results as Monday: five great hits but missed them all. “Guess I will get them next time,” he said.
Lou says there are three very good methods for wintertime striped bass fishing. Vertical-jigging with a spoon is one fun method and a big thrill. You will be jigging the spoon up and down and all of sudden the rod decides it does not want to jig up and gets buried. Make sure you are holding on tight. One important tip for wintertime jigging is to slow down your presentation. Small twitches of your rod tip typically work better than the fast and large pullups. Live bait fishing is another good method to catch stripers. All you need is live brooder shiners, a 2-ounce weight tied to your line with a 3 - 4 foot leader, and a number 4 to a number 1 size hook. I try to match my hook size to the size of bait I am using. Set your bait right at the top of the bait you are marking, fish will come up for the bait, but typically will not go down after it. The third method that is currently working really well for some is trolling an umbrella or alabama rig. When I troll I like to use 5 inch swim baits (Reaction Innovation's Skinny Dippers are one of my favorites). You will need to get your bait down to a 20 - 35 feet depth. Down riggers are the easiest method to get your bait down deep, but you can also use weighted umbrella rigs or you can use in-line weights.
Lou says he has not fished for bass or crappie yet, but will shortly. He did notice Monday morning, as he was heading out about 7:30 a.m., that there were a few fish coming up next to the bank. They looked small, but sometimes it is hard to tell. Might want to check out a jerkbait. Typically the bass that he catches this time of year are in deeper water, 30-50 feet down on the bottom close or near brush. The Norfork Lake level is falling slowly and currently sits at 547.86 feet msl. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 44.5-45.5 degrees. The lake is stained.

(update 1-10-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.

Norfork Tailwater

(update 1-10-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 5.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 32 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfock has had had more generation and less wadable water lately. The water is stained and has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things changed a bit last year during 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. My 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 sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10). It is cold out there. Take frequent breaks, bring cocoa and dress your children warmly.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(update 1-10-2018) 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.