Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 28, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report March 28, 2018.

White River

(updated 3-28-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says Spring Break on the White River near Cotter means lots of young fishers. There's nothing better than seeing a family enjoying the great outdoors, fishing for trout – and most often catching and releasing more than they can keep – in the beauty of our natural state. We have been provided with all types of water levels over the past seven days, fluctuating between low, shallow water to high, deep water so our professionals have been creative in ensuring guests to the river continue to catch a good share of rainbows and a number of trophy trout for pictures and bragging rights. A pair of brand-new fly-fishers caught upward of 25 trout this past week primarily with ruby midges tied on a No. 16 or No. 18 hook. Bait fishers have relied on sculpin minnows for most of the brown catches; some of the guides prefer palm sized (big) sculpins, most are just as successful drifting, mid-depth, a more available, smaller bait. The kids are staying busy catching rainbow after rainbow with scented shrimp and bright fluorescent chartreuse or yellow eggs. We're sending them back to school with some great fish tales.

(updated 3-28-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the dropping water levels mean that as of Monday no generators were running. The river level is normal and the clarity is clear. Browns and rainbows are both excellent with the bite. Anglers are using stick baits, jigs, shrimp, sculpins, PowerBait and Power Worms.

(updated 3-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, several rain events combined for a quarter of an inch in Cotter, and they had warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.3 feet to rest at 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 feet to rest at 0.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 0.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and significant wadable water. On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. There are some caddis coming off in the afternoon. 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 pink worm with a size 14 prince nymph 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 660.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 3-21-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said on March 15 that the lake level was at 659 feet msl and that it had dropped a couple of feet to where it was back to normal. They've been generating quite a bit of water at the dam and the water temps are about 48 degrees as of late last week, up to 56 degrees if you get in the dirty water and back to some of the creeks, and that's got the white bass moving up if you're into that kind of thing. The white bass are going in the backs of the creek, all the way in the back where it gets skinny, he said. Largemouth bass fishing has been, well, you're working for them this past week, Del said. Some days you do really well, and other days it's tougher. They're in transition, starting to come out of their winter haunts and moving out into the creeks headed toward spawning areas. Keep that in mind as you're fishing, the bluffier, deeper 45-degree banks are still holding a lot of fish and they'll just use those channels to go back into the creeks as they go toward those spawning areas. Some of them are starting to move just outside of the spawning areas, so a couple of different things Del is using: In the clear water he’s throwing a Fish Spin Head. That's catching a few fish, slow-rolling it back on the steeper shoreline. The jerkbait over the brush piles and the points, that's picking up a few fish. That bite is starting to wean on and off. The crankbait bite, if you have wind and you got dirty water, or if you just have a lot of wind (we've had a lot of wind last couple weeks), throw a Wiggle Wart or Rock Crawler. The Rock Crawler seems to be picking up a few more fish than the Wiggle Wart right now and the fish seem to be in that 8- to 10-foot zone. The jig bite has been one of the stronger bites for Del, he said. Fishing the jig, that water temperature is just right where those crawdads are starting to get a little active, so keep that in mind if you're going out. If you're going to the back and you're looking for that dirty water, there's fish in there. If we get the cold nights, though, those fish will move off because that's the first place to warm up is also the first place to cool off. If you do get in the back and you find the warmer water, Del said he found it up to 56-57 degrees. This week it's supposed to get warm, so you can start getting a few on a spinnerbait. It's not a real strong bite but you do need a little wind and some dirty water to make that happen. If you're going out toward the main lake and it clears up on you, he’s catching a few dragging a twin tail grub or shaky head. If it lays flat on you, opt for that or a jig. The deep bite’s pretty much has disappeared and Del doesn’t expect that back for a while. All these fish are looking to come up and spawn, and it's going to get good here in the next couple of weeks as they start moving up toward the spawning areas. There is a bit of a walleye bite going on. If you get out, go out the last two or three hours of the day, throw a jerk bait around. Some guys are catching a few out of jerkbait and that's going to continue here for the next couple months if you want to go catch walleye. I'd recommend that you wait until the last couple hours of the day and go throw a jerkbait around on the long bushy shallow points and gravel.
Del adds that they held the Big John's Tournament two weeks ago and it drew a great turnout, and he appreciates everyone showing up. They’ve more tournaments scheduled for the first Saturday of each month over the next couple months, he said.

(updated 3-21-2018) K Dock Marina has reopened for the season but has no fishing reports. The marina will be hosting the 2018 Hollister Project Graduation Bass Tournament on Saturday, April 7, its first tournament of the year. The tourney helps raise money for the Hollister (Mo.) High seniors. This will be a 50/50 payout tournament taking off at 8 a.m. and weighing in at 4 p.m. $50 entry fee per two-person boat with an optional Big Bass side pot for $10. Cash only. Early Sign Up will begin on Friday, April 6th at K Dock Marina. Tournament rules will be announced 15 minutes before takeoff. Breakfast items will be available for purchase at the marina that morning.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.39 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 3-28-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said that from the beginning of this past week they have seen a steady improvement in the weather and the fishing. The best bite early in the week was the Fout area but everybody started fishing the area and the bite slowed down. With the warm weather the last couple of days, the stripers started biting all over the lake. Stripers have been caught in the Twin Coves area, Buzzard Roost area and the Big Creek arm. The best method has been with either shiners or shad with just a split-shot or no weight far back of the boat. Saturday Tom started seeing stripers feeding on the surface and he and his party caught and broke off stripers on big 7-inch gizzard shad using planer boards. This tells me the stripers are starting to feed and anglers should see a big uptick in action once the big rains are over this week. Start looking for topwater action early and late afternoons off the points and bays halfway up the creeks and beyond. You will start seeing stripers feeding around Cranfield Island, Cow Point, Bennett's, Brushy Creek and Big Creek just east of Hand Cove Resort. Once the water starts to reach the 60-degree mark, Norfork Lake will turn on fire. The walleye have spawned up near Udall and are in their post-spawn mode, which turns the bite off until they recover from the spawn. The bite should improve in the next week with the warm weather. Everything will bite better with warmer weather. The best place to find fish is Bennett's Bayou and the Twin Coves area. Up past Cranfield there is a lot of bait in the area, much more than Big Creek, which could bode well for Big Creek because the predators may be more interested in whatever you present. But, as always, as Tom says, “Find the bait and you will find the fish.”

(updated 3-21-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is still trying to get to a consistent spring fishing pattern. Not a lot has changed over the last week except for the ups and downs of the weather. Every day brings different weather. But on a positive note the crappie and bass bites are good and the striped bass bite is fair. Striped bass are still located back in the creeks heading towards the warmer water. In the late afternoon they tend to head out a short distance, but are still in the creeks. Most of the stripers that I have caught over the week have been on live bait, threadfin, gizzard shad and shiners. They have mainly been hitting free swimming baits (with no weights) or baits with just a small split shot. If you're fishing with no weight, do not move much, and let the bait swim free. They will go to the depth that the fish are looking for. If you use a small split shot move slowly with your trolling motor so as to keep the baits farther up in the water column. If you want to use down poles with a larger weight set your depth at about 15 feet deep. I am doing both, but am getting most of my strikes on a small split shot rig. The cold fronts do affect how the fish bite, but the fronts have not chased them out of the creeks. Artificial baits are working as well. If you like to troll, use an umbrella or Alabama rig. Your bait needs to be between 10 and 20 feet deep. The other day on my way back to the resort, I was checking out a few deep bluff lines located back in the creeks and found big hybrids on the bottom in 25 feet of water. I was able to drop a spoon and vertical jig and caught a really big hybrid. Early in the morning the fish can be in really shallow water then as the day wears on they tend to move out to 30 - 40 feet deep water.
Lou says crappie fishing has picked up. They are still on the brush piles and have not moved onto the banks to spawn at this time. I believe they really want to, but the cooler weather is keeping them from proceeding. A few warm days and nights should get the crappie heading to shallow water. One of our guests found crappie on 25 feet deep brush piles. The fish were near the top of the brush 15-20 feet down. It seemed to him that if he went deeper he only caught smaller fish. Vertical jigging a small 1/4 ounce spoon was working great, but using a small grub with a 1/8 to 1/4 ounce jig head will work as well. Of course, live minnows on a slip float will work wonders with the crappie, as it does with all species. When they move to the banks cast out a small spinner bait, such as a Roadrunner, or a small crank bait or a small grub to catch some of these shallow fish. The largemouth and spotted bass bite is still good. The pattern is basically the same as a week ago. Head about half way back into coves and cast out a red crank bait. The red color is working best in the stained water, but if you are working in browner water try a lighter color, such as white and chartreuse.
Norfork Lake level has risen slightly, about 4 inches, over the last week and currently sits at 553.51 feet msl. The surface water temperature has stayed about the same from a week ago and currently ranges from 49-53 degrees, depending on your location on the water. Parts of the main lake, as well as, some of the creeks are clear and others are stained. I have fished most areas of the lake from the mid lake creeks to the Bennett’s area, and up to the Red Bank area. All species of fish are scattered throughout. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's annual fishing derby has commenced. Win large cash prize for the longest fish in three different species, along with a chance to win a free week stay. Give them a call at 870-492-5113 to make your cabin reservation and to join the derby. Go to the website for further details at

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 3-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake remained steady at 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had little generation and more wadable water. The water is has cleared substantially but has still fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit since 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 but it is not fishing as well as usual. 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).

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 3-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are both navigable and clearing. As the water warms the smallmouths will be more 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.