Cotter Trout Dock Sign
Established 1954
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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 24, 2018


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 January 24, 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 1-24-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river is stained. There have been two generators running of late. No fishing reports were available.

(update 1-24-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, they had about an inch of snow in Cotter, brutally cold temperatures (to include wind chill advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.2 feet to rest at 5.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.9 feet to rest at 6.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 22.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 1 foot to rest at 7.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had little wadable 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 water we should expect more generation to provide for increased energy demand. The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam will close from until 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 the 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 Y2K with a size 14 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down. Remember that the White and Norfork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 653.42 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 things 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 steeper banks, the chunk rock 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, though. 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.

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

(update 1-24-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the cold and snow last week sure changed Norfork Lake. The water temperature dropped almost 4 degrees and moved the stripers. Tom pre-fished Thursday morning and started where they caught all the fish the previous week. Tom found plenty of shad and that usually brings the stripers. His group fished all morning and only had one bite. Friday Tom took his clients to where the bait was and fished for another 7 hours moving all around the Blue Lady and 101 flats. Tom was always on shad and had two stripers hooked but never boated them. Sometimes in life you look at all the wrong places to find what's right in front of you. The assumption is in winter: Find the shad and you will find the stripers. When the water turns cold the shad will always move deeper and the stripers will follow. Tom says he has followed that logic all the time in the winter with great success. The next day he started looking in Float Creek since there was bait and a few fish caught there the day before. Tom’s son, Sean, was out looking around and texted Tom an image of a massive amount of stripers and hybrids in 28 feet of water with no bait around. Tom’s group immediate went to Duck Blind Point and hooked up and landed three stripers. They stayed on the fish but they quit biting when the sun went behind the clouds and the wind turned east. Sean also found stripers shallow in Float Creek near the boat docks. The moral of the story is quit doing the same thing over and over and don't be afraid to change up your pattern. You just may find the motherlode of stripers.

(update 1-24-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said January has brought normal significant weather pattern changes. About 12 days ago they went from the 50s to single digits for about six days and even had several inches of snow. Over the last several days they were back in the mid-60s, but here it goes again with a slight cool down. All of these changes in the weather affect what the bait and fish do. On Jan. 10, large schools of fish were feeding in about 60 feet of water, but after the cold snap the hybrids and stripers disappeared, even though the bait was still hanging around. Normal wintertime striped bass fishing would have the fish out in the deep water channels feeding on suspended bait in 40-60 feet down. The bait is there, but only scattered fish are showing up. With the cold weather and snow, the water temperature dropped about 3-4 degrees, but over the last several days the surface water temperature has risen 2-3 degrees. “All of the changes confuse the fish as well as the fishermen, including me,” Lou said.
Lou said they had several fishermen staying with them over the weekend all fishing for stripers – a few were caught but it was tough going. The areas where Lou found fish were in the Henderson area close to the bluffs. Big balls of shad were being pushed into the bluffs by the west wind and there were a few stripers hanging around 30 feet down. Both spoons and live shiners caught fish. Monday, Lou said, he was out fishing from the U.S. Highway 62 bridge area all the way down to Fout Boat Dock and only marked a few lone fish. He said he did more looking than fishing. Lou heard from a friend that he found stripers in very shallow water a few days ago, so Lou’s guess is he’s going to need to think outside the box and look at areas that he would typically avoid this time of year. The last two days the wind was howling so he elected to stay at the resort Tuesday instead of fish, with plans to be back at it in the morning and start the hunt again.
Lou added, “I ended my fishing excursion yesterday by doing a little bass fishing. I headed into a cove that the wind was blowing very strongly into. I stopped on a secondary point and found large balls of shad next to the shore and a few shad floating on the surface. I tied on a Rogue (a shallow-running suspending jerkbait) and started casting to the shore. I gave the bait a couple of hard jerks to get it down, then let it rest for a few seconds, then start twitching the bait softly, then stopped. I did this back to the boat. On the second cast the bass started to get active and I landed three largemouth bass in a very short period of time. No monsters, but fun. The wind was blowing so hard that the waves were starting to splash over the boat, so I called it a day. The other location where my guests were finding bass was along deep bluff lines. The fish were about 30 feet deep. Live bait was catching these suspended largemouth and spotted bass.
“A few small shad are starting to die from the cold water, which is very normal for this time of year. If you can find a school of shad that are distressed, on the surface and close to the shoreline, there will more than likely be bass in the area feeding away. I started to see a little of this yesterday, but I really could not tell if the shad were distressed or just being blown into shore from the strong wind.”
Norfork Lake is currently stable and sits at 546.46 feet msl. The lake surface temperature Monday was around 45 degree (+/- one degree). The main lake is finally starting to show some sign of clearing, as well as the creeks and coves. The weather forecast for the rest of the week is to be around normal, 40s to 50s in the days and high 20s to low 30s at night.

Norfork Tailwater

(update 1-24-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 6.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 33.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and more wadable water. On the Norfork, the water is has cleared substantially but has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent 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 Y2K with a ruby midge dropper.
Dry Run Creek has cleared some and 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 1-24-2018) 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 cold 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.