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Established 1954
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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 5, 2018


Below are some photos of our guided trout fishing customers taken this week at Cotter Trout Dock. 
Click images to enlarge.
Below the pictures is the Fishing Report from Arkansas Game and Fish.

brown troutbrown troutbrown trout

White River

(updated 12-5-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “A cold wind has been ushering in some winter-like temperatures – it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. There's good news in that: Fewer anglers on the river means more opportunity for those who join us trout fishers on the White River outside of Cotter.” Water releases have increased to serve increased power demands during the colder weather, but like we always say, the really good news is that trout love cold water and they love lots of water. While the releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been relatively judicious, anglers have had an easier time navigating to the deeper holes, yet bank fishing hasn't been negatively impacted to any great degree. The added depth offers more confidence in casting some of the favorite stick baits (those No. 5 countdowns are continuing to prove successful) and larger streamers. The browns have given some
attention to sculpins, even in the middle of their annual spawn. “Come on over and tie on your favorite baits; catch some trout and revel in the changing seasons we are so blessed to enjoy.”

(updated 12-5-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is clear and the level is low. It has been “cold and nasty” there, with no one fishing. There have been up to three generators running at times at the dam. There are walleye visible along the dock.

(updated 12-5-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week that they had about an inch of rain, cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.2 feet to rest at 4 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 40 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 feet to rest at 3.4 feet below seasonal power pool and 19.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 2.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had little wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.2 feet to rest at 0.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. 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 well below the top of power pool. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. There have been some blue-wing olive and some midge hatches (try a size 20 parachute Adams). 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 combination is a size 14 bead-head pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 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 654.57 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 12-5-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.51 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 12-5-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake's stripers are moving out from the flats into their winter holding pattern. Tom says he was catching stripers in the 25-30-foot range and now they have moved into the 50-80-foot depths. You will find them there feeding in the 40-50-foot range. The stripers are now in large schools along with the white bass. Shad, shiners and spoons are the best baits. Because they are now schooled up, when using those baits the action can be very fast. Trolling will produce fish but because you're moving, you are not staying on the schools long enough to catch many. Even though it’s cold, winter striper fishing is one of the best times to catch lots of fish and have the lake to yourself. The good part of winter striper fishing is the fish will stay in this pattern for the next several months, so there should be not a lot of traveling looking for fish. When you find big balls of bait, the stripers will be close by. The stripers will move to the channel toward Crystal Cove and stay on the big flat and channel near Howard Cove and Blue Lady. Float Creek will begin to hold fish as the water turns colder. Stripers tend to congregate near and in the four corners area of 5A.
“We are using shad but shiners will be an effective substitute to shad,” Tom says. “The best method is downlines set off the bottom about 2 feet. I also had 1 rod set about 20 feet down to catch the roving hybrids that are in the higher water column. Float and Panther creeks should also hold stripers, plus Big Creek. Follow the same pattern, find the shad and the stripers are nearby.”

(updated 11-28-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake's fall fishing pattern is slowly moving toward the winter pattern. As the water continues to cool the fish go deeper following the bait. Over the last week I have noticed the bait moving from around 28 feet of water to anywhere from 35-50 feet of water. The bite over the last week has been good for most species. There have been continuous cold fronts, then warm air then back to cold fronts. Each time a system moves through the area the bite is affected. The best bite on the lake, in my opinion, is as follows: white bass, largemouth and spotted bass, crappie, but the hybrid bass and striped bass bite are starting to pick up. Walleye and catfish have both been sporadic, but I have seen good signs that both are ready to improve. I have been having a lot of fun over the holiday week fishing with family members. Our resort was partially filled with my wife's side of the family and the remainder of the resort was filled with guests fishing for all types of species. I was really impressed that the cold weather didn't stop many of our Texas, Florida and South Carolina family members and they all were able to catch a fish. White bass have schooled and are located on flats in 35-50 feet of water depending on time of day. Early in the morning they are typically in the shallowest. As the day wears on they move to deeper water on the bottom and also have been found in very deep water, but suspended in the same 35-50 foot range. In the afternoons, look in the mouths of deep coves for this species. Within these schools of whites are hybrid bass and striped bass. Most of the stripers and hybrids are still suspended from 15-35 feet down. I have been fishing flats and mouths of coves from our resort up towards the Red Bank area, as well as, from the 101 bridge flat up to Bennetts Bayou area. The best striped bass bite has been up in the Bennetts area, but stripers have been caught in Pigeon Creek, Cranfield area and the mid lake major creeks, Float, Fall and Panther. Vertical jigging a spoon, casting out Kastmasters and live shiners have been the best baits for whites, hybrids and stripers. Largemouth and spotted bass are being caught in many different types of areas and structures and are being caught on different types of baits. I have a lot of fun looking for schools of bass on the flats and they are currently being found in 35 to 48 feet of water. If you can find a slight drop off out on the flat it will be holding fish. When I find these schools I vertical jig with a spoon and at times will catch one after another. They are also located on the bluffs and close to the transition areas from bluff to chuck rock. Most will be suspended on the bluff, so casting rattle traps, spinner baits and crank baits will catch you some nice fish. They will also be on the drop offs along the bluffs so throw a jig & pig, Texas rigged worm or a crawdad, all will pick up some nice fish. Work the bottom along the bluffs 20-30 feet deep. The bite has been very light, so if you see your line start to move set the hook, or if you feel a slight heaviness set the hook. Walleye are starting to show up on the flats in about 40 feet of water, with the other species and some really nice fish are being caught jigging a spoon. The crappie bite has been very good. Look at brush in 30-40 feet of water, on the main lake, as well as, part way back into the creeks. Early in the morning and midday the fish have typically been buried inside of the brush. Late in the afternoon after the water has warmed a bit, they have a tendency to move up in the water column above the brush. Live bait is the best, but jigging small spoons or paddle tail grub are picking up some nice 13 - 14 inch slabs. Norfork Lake level is currently fairly stable with a slight fall one day then a slight rise the next and currently sits at 552.65 feet above sea level. The lake surface water temperature is falling slowly and currently is 53-55 degrees. The main lake is fairly clear.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 12-5-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.2 feet to rest at 0.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. 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 well below the top of power pool. The Norfork has fished well. There have been some nice midge and sporadic caddis hatches that have provided some limited top water action. Navigate this stream with caution; there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole over the past year or more. 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 red fox squirrel nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek is fishing much better. 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 12-5-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and clear. The smallmouths are much less active with the cold conditions. 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.