Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

February 7, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report February 7, 2018.

White River

(updated 2-7-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Baby, it's cold outside. But the temperature trend is moving upward over the next 10 days and the trout are biting.” Water levels are fluctuating greatly during this cold snap; with the lake level low – 6-7 feet below power pool – but energy demands high, Southwestern Power has been releasing large amounts of water for several hours early in the day, then returning to low flow for the rest of the day. Expect very low releases when the weather is mild. Tried and true baits will provide plenty of action: sick baits (4-8 feet or 6-10 feet sinking depths during morning releases), gold bellies, blue backs. Live worms, red wigglers are best, attract some trout especially during rising releases. Keep a few sculpins on hand and always some gold/red spoons as the water drops.

(updated 2-7-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river level was normal. The trout bite is good. A lot of rainbows were caught on worms. Some browns were biting jigs.

(updated 2-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, they have had two rain events combined for about an inch here in Cotter (not including Tuesday’s front that passed through, after John submitted his report), warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 feet to rest at 6.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 42.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 feet to rest at 6.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 22.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 6.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had more wadable water with less 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. On the White, the hot spot has been Bull Shoals State Park. 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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 652.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-31-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level last week was at 653 feet msl (about 6 feet below normal pool). The surface water temperature is 45-49 degrees depending on where you’re fishing. The fishing has been pretty good but it’s hit or miss depending on the day and weather. Depending on where you’re at on the lake there are a couple of different things going on and a lot of it has to do with the shad. When the temperature was real cold and then it got hot, Del says, he believes some of the shad are starting to die off. The big sea dragons that you’ll see throughout the lake on the creek arms, there’s some there and in the turns in the main channel swings, so you want to graph on them and see if there’s fish in them. For the deep bite the spoons are working. Use a half-ounce to a quarter-ounce spoon depending on how deep they are. Del is fishing it anywhere from 20 feet out to 35-45 feet. The drop-shot stop is still working and the drop-shot fish seem to be on the channel swing banks or the bluffs or the bluff ends. The jerkbait bite, if there’s some sun and a little bit of wind, the jerkbait will pull some fish off the docks and brush piles. Keep the boat in 30-35 feet of water. The deeper docks are holding some fish. He’s also catching a few fish on the Fish Spin. And if you have wind and clouds, you definitely want to throw either a Rock Crawler or a Wiggle Wart, using whatever color works for you. The water is gin-clear and there’s some moss. So it’s one of those things where you’re just going to have to fight it, Del says. It’s not real bad, he adds, but you know if you’re throwing a Rock Crawler or a Wiggle Wart you’re going to be peeling it off a little bit.
Del says another bite that’s working is a jig. There’s a deep jig bite and a dock bite for the jigs. The action seems to be around the deeper docks and the brush piles around the deeper docks.
“Speaking of brush piles, Game and Fish put out a ton of brush piles. If you get a chance you’re going to have to go out and mark them,” he says. “What an amazing job. I’m already catching fish off some of them. Jerkbait fish will be over some of them brush piles. Most of them seem to be in that 25-30 feet but as you’re out in the lake one thing you want to look for is the loons and the gulls. They’re out there eating the shad and as the water temperature comes up, some of these shad are dying off. When you see the seagulls, go check it out. Those big sea dragons that you’ll see on the graph, that’s where the fish are going to be around.”

K Dock Marina will reopen for the season in March.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 545.88 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 2-7-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said he missed the last week's fishing report due to our trip to the Chicago Sports Show. But he’s back this week and then we will go to the Jonesboro Sport Show Feb, 9. If you are around the Jonesboro area, stop by Tom’s booth and you can spend some talking fishing. Right now the Norfork Lake water temperature is in the low 40s and will stay that way for the next several weeks. Once they start getting some consistent south winds they should see a quick warmup. The lake is experiencing the normal winter shad kill. They are seeing thousands of small 1- inch threadfin shad dying along the shoreline. Small threadfin shad cannot tolerate water temperatures in the low 40s very long. The good news is the shad kill generates tremendous opportunity for catching trout on the White and Norfork rivers. Throw a small silver spoon and you will have lots of action. The stripers have gone into their February hiding routine; they seem to disappear every February, so if you want to catch one, try going up a creek with a good water flow. This time of year on the lakes and rivers in Tennessee they catch stripers in 30 feet of water or less. Here, Tom would look at Bennett's Bayou or up pass the state line. Historically the largest winter stripers are caught at the 160 bridge at night throwing bucktail jigs. Tom says he plans on spending his February chasing walleye and crappie. Right now they are catching both off brush piles using small jigs and spoons. Tom will be fishing up near Udall using live bait for walleye and long line trolling for crappie in the creeks off the main lake like Bennett's, Pigeon Creek and Big Creek. Lots of big crappie are caught trolling small jigs and minnows.

(updated 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

(updated 2-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 7.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 33.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and more wadable water. The water is has cleared substantially but has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during last year’s 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 No. 14 sowbugs, No. 12 Y2Ks 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

(updated 2-7-2018) 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.