Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report
April 11, 2018
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Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report April 11, 2018.


White River

(updated 4-11-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says no fair-weather fishers here: This past weekend brought snow and cold temperatures, and also delivered the heartiest of fishers to the White River. Water and weather conditions combined to create extraordinarily difficult fishing scenarios, but we witnessed some great catches by skilled guides, persistent Arkansans and tough visitors. Use heavy weights/sinkers on your line to float your baits near the bottom in this deep water and cast near the banks where the trout don't have to fight the current. Sculpins remain the best tempter for the browns, and we've seen some rainbow action with redworms and spinners, 1/4-ounce or 3/8-ounce. Try yellow-bodied Rooster Tails with gold blades; green body (looks black). Yellow spotted Panther Martin will attract their attention. Stop in to hash over the new trout regulations for the Bull Shoals tailwaters; stay legal and keep anglin'.
 

(updated 4-11-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said eight generators are running round-the-clock. The result is high water and no fishing to report this week. The water clarity is cloudy.

(updated 4-11-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week, they had several rain events that combined for a half-inch in Cotter), warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wins advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3 feet to rest at 6.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 29.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.1 feet to rest at 2.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 2.6 feet to rest at 7 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. 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 above the top of power pool. With the quick rise in the lakes due to recent heavy rains, anglers can expect heavy generation in the near future. The White has fished better the past week. 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 14prince nymph suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
John adds, “I first met Duane Hada almost three decades ago. At the time, he was managing a small fly shop near Heber Springs and guiding on the Little Red River. I was a CPA in Memphis and spent all of my free time fly-fishing. Since the Little Red was the closest trout stream to Memphis, I spent a lot of time there. Every time I went I stopped by Duane’s shop to pick his brain. He was very knowledgeable on the Little Red River and fly-fishing in general. I learned a lot. I even bought a small piece of his artwork not knowing that he would eventually become the well-known artist that he is.
“Years later we both ended up in the Twin Lakes Area. I moved to Cotter to become a fulltime fly-fishing guide. Duane moved to Yellville to pursue the same career, though he was devoting a lot of time developing his art. He opened his first gallery in Cotter just four blocks from my house. He moved his shop to a spot near the town square in Mountain Home and then out east of town on Highway 62 near Gassville. I would see him from time to time and we always chatted about fishing or art. I found that I could not go to a fundraiser connected to fishing, the outdoors or ecology without seeing a donation from Duane. He was involved in every worthy cause that came up.
I ran into him last year and he said that he was involved in an organization that was introducing boys to the outdoors through hunting and fishing. He went on to say that he could use some fishing gear and asked if I was interested in donating something. I know Duane to be a man of strong faith and figured that the group he was working with was faith based. I was right. Cross Trail Outfitters (CTI) is a faith-based youth hunting and fishing club. Many kids are unfamiliar with the outdoors. CTI is changing that by providing an opportunity to get them outdoors. There is more to life than television and video games. The organization has outings, a great summer camp, a first hunt program, community service and leadership development.
“I donated a used fly rod that had belonged to my brother, Dan. I went through my old waders and found several pair that would be useful to CTI and gave them to Duane. I also found a cache of ammunition that had belonged to Dan. It was way more than I would ever use and thought Duane would like that, also. I felt good to take a bunch of outdoor gear that I was not using and passed it on to someone that would use it in a positive program that would benefit our youth.
“If you would like to help this organization by donating gear or money – it is a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization – or have kids that you would be interested in getting involved, contact Duane Hada at (870) 425-3898 or stop by Rivertown Gallery.”

 

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 664.00 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-11-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no new reports.

 

(updated 4-4-2018) K Dock Marina said they were really excited about the Army Corps of Engineers keeping the lake level around normal for this spring. Anglers have access to the boat ramp as well as the courtesy dock. “Big thanks to our friends at Taney County Road and Bridge for keeping the access road and parking lot cleared of debris!” The lake looks great. Still cold compared to the temps on Table Rock, but they are starting to get the surface temperature up. Crappie are really starting to hit live minnows, not on the shoreline yet, but decent reports down the lake from the dock. Slow presentation and live minnows on brush piles in the coves. Lake level was 658.66 (normal pool is 659 feet msl). Water temperature ranging 49-52 degrees. Water is stained to clear. Crappie are good to fair on live minnows on top of brush piles and structure. Colors of swimming minnows to use are: pink and chartreuse, pearl and Smoke & Glitter. Had a few anglers with some good limits last weekend. Most were finding the crappie in the creek coves from the 36 lake marker down to the Arkansas line. The water is a few degrees warmer down the lake. But, the coves near K Dock are really starting to produce some good numbers of big crappie. Black bass (largemouth, smallmouth and spotted) are biting Alabama rigs, jerkbaits and ½-ounce or smaller jigs. Bass will start hitting the threadfin shad and searching for crawfish for protein coming out of the winter months. A Ned Rig is a great plastic to throw in the spring as well. However, great reports of bass being caught on Wiggle Warts and Rock Crawlers in brown/tan and red craw colors. These work great with a little wind. Crank them down in the 5-8 feet range right now. Make contact with the rocks on the high bluff sides and then slow your retrieve. Remember, these fish are still a little slow coming up from 48 degrees water.
Also, walleye are fair on trolling with small to medium crankbaits. They are still deep, but that should change soon. They are hitting spoons off of points. For white bass, head to the Beaver Creek arm of the lake just 6 miles up from the dock. If the high temps arrive, they should be feeding there. Use a white Rooster Tail or a silver Rat-L-Trap.

 

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 559.52 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-11-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the beginning stages of Norfork Lake's spring fishing season have begun. It is a little behind past years due to the continual unseasonable cool fronts, but it is coming. Forecasts for the next few days are great, but another cool front is possible later in the week. The baitfish are moving toward shallow water to get to warmer water, and the predators are following to feed. Shad will be going through a spawn very shortly. The cool fronts do affect the fish, but if you adjust a little and move out to a little deeper water you will find the feeding fish.
Lou says he has had a very good week of fishing. Tuesday, he says, was outstanding. He caught well over 30 fish in the morning. The majority were the monster 2.5-3.5-pound white bass. He caught one that went over 4 pounds. Mixed in with the whites were the medium-sized hybrids going about 5-6 pounds. Lou ended up landing five hybrids. All of his fish were either released on site or at his dock after the photo op. He said he was finding fish on main lake points in 18-25 feet of water. His method of fishing was vertical jigging a ¾-ounce white-colored spoon. He was fishing northwest of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's cove. The striped bass he has caught by either casting out a 5-inch swimbait with a 3/8-ounce jighead or with live bait. The stripers have been in 15-30 feet of water and suspended at all depths. He has caught fish on downlines set at 15 and 20 feet, as well as with free swimming baits with a small split shot or no split shot. Most of the stripers are 8-12 pounds on the average. He said he’s finding striped bass northeast of his resort.
Lou adds, “I would like to welcome all of the Bass Cat boat owners that are arriving to Mountain Home to fish in the Bass Cat Owners Invitational Tournament. The warm weather forecast for the rest of the week should make for a great bass bite. Some of the larger bass had moved off of the shore, but will be returning very shortly. There are signs that some of the bass are starting to make their beds. Have a great tournament.” Norfork Lake level is falling slowly with one generator running full time and spillways partially open, releasing enough water to equal using a second generator. The current level is 559.74 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning on the main lake was 53.5 degrees and back in a creek was 55.5 degrees. These temperatures will be increasing throughout the week. Most of the areas he fished Tuesday morning were a greenish stained.

(updated 4-11-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Well we started April with cold, rain, and snow on Norfork Lake. I figured striper fishing would be dead until we started getting warmer weather and south winds. The direct opposite happened. I had a trip on Monday and caught over 12 stripers and hybrids in two different spots using two different techniques.” Tom’s son Sean fished last Wednesday and caught over 18 stripers using just downlines in 25 feet of water. Both Sean and Tom fished Saturday and Sunday and caught over 40 stripers and hybrids, Tom said. “The main difference is how we fish for stripers in the spring and now. Usually we fish using small split shots on long lines and free line planer boards. The stripers by now are very shallow and aggressive; they were that way the week before, but with the rain and cold they went deep. We are now catching them just like we catch them in the summer – 3 ounce weights set 1 feet off the bottom. When you find them they are very aggressive. We have had triples on many times this week.” Tom says to look for stripers halfway up the creek along the channel in 50 feet and keep moving shallow until you find them. Look for them in the Cranfield, Bennett's and Big Creek areas. Look at the points and sharp turns along bluff walls halfway up the creeks. Tom says that Kevin, a guest of Hand Cove Resort, boated a 35-pound 39-inch striper Saturday night in the cold. That tells Tom a couple of things, he said: First, the night bite is developing. And second, there are some big fish in Norfork Lake's Big Creek area. Greg at Hand Cove Resort reports the night bite is happening although it has been a little sporadic. It will be very good for a few nights, and then quit for a few. He expects it to be more consistent by the end of the coming week. That means the topwater action is not far behind. Better sharpen those hooks for some reel-ripping action.
Tom says, “This past Saturday I experience a series of first for me. When we left the marina we had a strong north wind, heavy snow and bitter cold. I would have never believed we would catch fish left and right for over two hours. I had lines break because the rod eyes were froze and the line was cut when we hooked a fish. I have never fished in April where I was colder than I was in December, when it was 14 degrees when I started fishing.”


Norfork Tailwater

 

(updated 4-11-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 2.3 feet to rest at 5.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water. The water is has cleared substantially but has still 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 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). 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 soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 4-11-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and less stained. 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 quic