Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 9, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report January 9, 2019.

White River

(updated 1-9-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Welcome to 2019! Mild January temperatures see White River fishers in shirt sleeves and sunscreen. Might not stay that warm, so come prepared for a change in the thermometer, but the rainbow trout catch remains steady, the brown bite rising.” Bull Shoals Lake has risen several feet over the last two weeks, so they are experiencing significant releases from the dam. That means you need to be prepared with weighted line with heavier, sinking stickbaits and/or sinkers that keep you close to the bottom (can mean 8 feet at least during heavier releases). Cast nearer the shoreline and let your bait drift back to you with a slightly taut line. High water is a challenge but the catch is usually a higher quality. Rooster Tails, gold blades, orange bodies; the browns are beginning to move back to their home bases and looking for fresh sculpins. “Time to plan the new year's fishing excursions; that might include checking off a bucket list item. We can help.”

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(updated 1-9-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they have had two rain events totaling about 3 inches at Cotter), cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.1 feet to rest at 0.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 2.3 feet to rest at 0.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 0.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 9.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 0.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. They 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.
John adds, “Last weekend my wife, Lori, and I had a guide trip with Brian and his wife, Lee. They were from Monroe, Louisiana. Before the trip, Brian explained that Lee did not do well in the cold. As luck would have it, the weather was forecast with very cold temperatures, no sun and brisk winds. The night before, we talked with Brian to ensure that they had appropriate clothing. We decided to start a bit later than usual in hopes of slightly warmer starting temperatures. It was 27 degrees when we got on the water.
“I did everything that I could the day before, when it was warmer. I hooked up my river boat and made sure that it was gassed up and ready to go. I rigged two fly rods with fresh leaders 5X tippet, two nymphs (a ruby midge below a pheasant tail), an AB split shot and a strike indicator. I gathered all of the food that we would need for lunch and packed it into my Yeti. I also put a container of charcoal lighter fluid in my Suburban.
“The next morning I woke up at the usual time (5 a.m.) and showered and shaved. I took great care in choosing my clothing for the day. I put on polypropylene long underwear top and bottom. Over that I wore fleece lined blue jeans and a thick fleece pullover. I wore heavy wool socks and a pair of Bean boots lined with Gore-Tex and Thinsulate. To complete my ensemble, I donned a thick down jacket, fingerless wool gloves and my super warm Elmer Phud hat. It is waterproof, wind proof and insulated. It has a long bill and ear flaps that secure down with a Velcro strap. Lori was similarly dressed except that she wore an extra fleece hat under her Elmer Pfud cap.
“I got to the river early and launched my boat so that we could begin fishing immediately. They were into trout immediately. The hot fly was the ruby midge. We literally caught every fish on that fly. We fished all morning and it was cold. We had a few brief periods of sunshine but the wind was unrelenting.
“At lunch we pulled over to the ramp and while Lori was putting out the lunch, I started a camp fire in the fire ring. I used sticks and twigs that had dropped from the trees during a recent wind storm. There was plenty of wood around. I used my charcoal lighter fluid to get the fire going quickly. On a cold day a fire can make a big difference. It is nice to warm your hands. We all ate lunch around the fire. Another guide arrived while we were there. His clients asked if they could warm up by the fire. We welcomed them to share the warmth.
“We returned to the river and continued fishing. Midafternoon we took a break and were pleased to note that the fire was still going. We warmed up and returned to the river. We fished till almost dark. When we came off the river, the fire was still going. Our clients warmed by the fire, while I put my boat on the trailer and stowed my gear.
We finished the day and survived the cold. The fire helped a lot.”

(updated 1-9-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) had no report.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 662.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-9-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.

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Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 556.33 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-9-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Happy New Year to all. I hope the fantastic weather we have been having is allowing you to get out on the lake and do a little fishing. Norfork Lake is one of the best lakes I have had the opportunity to fish and I enjoy it most every day. Even though I have been out of pocket for the last couple of weeks, I am back out on the lake finding and catching fish.” Lou said Monday was his first day out on the lake for 2019 and he spent the day traveling to different parts of the lake, doing a lot of graphing and looking for striped bass with very little fishing. Tuesday was a different story, he said. “I retraced my travels from yesterday to the spots where I found fish. My first area at about 8 a.m. was the Cranfield and Pigeon Creek area. I found bait and fish, but very few takers. I fished this area for about an hour with little luck, then headed to a mid-lake creek that the wind was blowing into. Again I found scattered bait with fish following, and this time they were feeding. The fish were 40-60 feet down. The hybrids and whites were in the 40-50 foot range and the deeper fish were stripers. I was vertical-jigging with a spoon and caught many big whites, a hybrid and 2 striped bass. I was jigging for the suspended fish 60 feet down and a small school of big fish came under me on the bottom at 80 feet, so I dropped my spoon to the bottom. The spoon did not have a chance to hit the bottom as a striper just inhaled the spoon and the fight was on.
“The fish in this area were scattered though out the deeper water so I had to keep moving around until I located them. I finally decided to move to my next location and was pleasantly surprised to find a lot of active fish. I was in between the two bridges in 90-100 feet of water. This time I found schools of fish only 20-40 feet down, but lots of them. They would not hit my spoon jigging, but when I dropped it though the fish and reeled up fast though them, they hammered it before the spoon got to the surface. One of the striped bass caught here hit the spoon almost on the surface, then took a straight-down dive to about 60 feet before I could turn its head. It ended up being a nice 14-pound fish. I ended up catching fish all the way up to 2 p.m., when I decided it was time to go home, but the fish were still there.”
Lou says winter time fishing can be a blast. The fish, as you have read, can be at any depth from surface all the way down to the bottom, located in very deep water. Lou said he did have a couple of live baits out part of the time and never got a bite on them, but they liked his spoon. Each place that he fished Tuesday are typical wintertime locations based on prior years’ experience. It does take some time to locate the fish, but when you do, hang on. Lou says he still only uses 8-pound test monofilament line, so he has his drag set a little loose. What is a little different this year, so far, is that the fish and bait typically move into the deep channels, but he is finding them near the channel or on very deep flats, but not in the channel. Nothing to report on other species at this time as he says he’s just getting back into the groove. But wintertime bass and crappie fishing are both typically very good and lots of fun.
Norfork Lake has risen about 3 feet since his last report and currently sits at 556.34 feet msl, which is less than 3 feet over the normal seasonal pool. The main lake is clear. Some coves and back in the creeks are stained. The water temperature Tuesday morning at 7:30 a.m. was 48 degrees and by the time he headed back to the dock it was slightly over 49 degrees. The lake is in great shape and the fishing is looking to be a lot of fun, Lou says.

(updated 12-19-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake winter striper bite is going strong now. “I went out Tuesday looking for some stripers since I struck out the week before. We headed towards Fouts Boat Dock but were slowed down to a crawl by the heavy fog bank that started at the 62 bridge. We creeped all the way up to Fouts, where I had caught so many winter stripers last year, and looked from there back to Bidwell Point and could not find bait or fish.
“My next move was to look in Float Creek. I have structure scan, so I'm very certain when I see fish they are stripers, compared to 2D sonar that show lots of hooks that look like big fish but when you view them using structure scan you realize your viewing small fish. I finally found some good white lines that I knew were stripers. I threw out two long lines and then set out seven downlines. It didn't take long and we hooked up with a fat well feed 12-pound striper. We caught a small hybrid, several largemouths, and catfish while I continued to search for stripers. I moved out to deeper water and found small schools of stripers in 60 feet of water on the bottom. When I put the shad I was using for bait on their noses, they would slam the bait. In the first school we caught one and missed one. The next school we hooked up with four all at once and managed to land three. It was a great way to end our trip. The moral of the story is keep looking, use your electronics and have faith once you find fish. Winter fishing is fun and you never know when the bite will come since they will feed all day long.”
Tom says the other good area for stripers right now is above Cranfield toward Steward Point. Lots of whites, hybrids and stripers are being caught using spoons and Kastmasters. The stripers will be in large schools along with the white bass. Shad, shiners and spoons are the best baits. Because they are now schooled up, anglers using those baits should expect the action to be very fast. Trolling will produce fish but because you're moving, you are not staying on the schools long enough to catch many. Tom adds that even though it’s cold, winter striper fishing is one of the best time 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 shad, 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. Tom says they are using shad but shiners will be an effective substitute to shad. The best method is downlines set off the bottom about 2 feet. Tom says he also had one 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.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 1-19-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 0.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The Norfork has fished well. There have been some nice midge and sporadic caddis hatches that have provided some daily top water action. 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 (size 14, size 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 eighteen 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.
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Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 1-9-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color, and the White River below these streams is high and off-color, also. 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.