Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

February 6, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report February 6, 2019.

White River

(updated 2-6-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is “not bad” but the river level remains high. Temperature at the resort is 74 degrees but few people were fishing, they said Monday. Six generators are running at the dam. The anglers who were trying to fish reported good catches on trout. Rainbows are hitting regular trout lures while the browns are biting on minnows.

(updated 2-6-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says weather extremes are the norm there in the Ozarks in February; yesterday in shirt sleeves, Friday you’ll be back in parkas. The trout bite has imitated the fickleness of the weather with a day of fantastic catches, then a day of less than fantastic creel fills. But they say that on their stretch of the White River in Arkansas you know there's always the possibility of a lunker trout right around the bend. This week, with water levels approaching four generators from the dam, they have had great luck with 4-inch and 5-inch stickbaits. The Smithwick Rogues are both great throws and priced so that you don't feel like you've lost an arm and a leg when you lose a lure. A variety of colors have caught both browns and good-sized rainbows so vary your bait based on sky color. Try the white belly, black back on overcast days, and an orange belly, blue back on sunny days. The Table Rock Gold, 4 ½-inch Rogue (“I call it purple”) brought several nice browns to the boat. “The smallmouth bass were biting minnows this week just at the mouth of Crooked Creek. When minnows weren't working for either trout or smallies, we put a sculpin on a No. 4 Aberdeen hook and waited for larger browns to gather. Worked one out of two days. And that's our story this week. Come on over.”

(updated 2-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they have had a trace of rain, cold temperatures and heavy wind. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell a foot to rest at 0.7 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool and 8.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell a foot to rest at 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are still above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam on the White River, which was closed beginning Nov. 1, is reopened. These trout have not been fished over in three months. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the state park below Bull Shoals Dam. 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 size 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 10 cerise San Juan worm with a size 12 Y2K suspended below it. Use plenty of lead to get your flies down. The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and a bit high. The smallmouths are much less active with the cold conditions. My 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.
John also said about the latest gear he’s seen: “With my fishing gear, I am very much a traditionalist. My favorite fishing rod is a Sage Light Line that I have fished with for about 30 years. The Orvis CFO reel that I use is the same age. I still wear a traditional fishing vest and an ancient cowboy hat, when fishing. For me to adopt new gear, it must function better than the gear that I am using.
“My first fly rod was fiberglass. I was perfectly satisfied with it until my brother bought a new Sage graphite rod. I cast it once and had to have one. Except for a brief flirtation bamboo fly rods, I have fished graphite rods ever since simply because they cast better than anything else. Similarly, my first waders were neoprene. I was satisfied with them until I tried breathable waders. I have worn nothing else for the last 20 years.
“Recently, I was introduced to a new strike indicator, the air lock. Over the years, I have used dozens of different strike indicators and found them lacking in one way or another. I have been using Tru Turn and Thingamabobber strike indicators. The Tru Turn indicators were two pieces of plastic foam connected with a piece of rubber band. It held well and did not slip. It was infinitely adjustable and you could easily add it to your rigging after you tied on your fly. The problem was that the rubber band would fail over time and the strike indicator would fail.
“The Thingamabobber (I love the name) would float heavy rigs and hang on well. The problem was that it would slip on smaller tippets and would leave a serious kink in your line that was impossible to remove. I used the Tru Turn (which was smaller) when I was wade fishing and the Thingamabobber when I was drifting in the boat.
“The airlock is a plastic bubble that looks a lot like the Thingamabobber. It attaches to the leader with a slotted stem, which accepts the leader and a plastic washer and nut to lock it down. These strike indicators do not slip or kink the line and they are very easy to see. You can add them to your leader after you tie on the fly.
“I have also switched over to a new net. For several years I have been using a beautiful large Brodin wooden boat net with a clear rubber net bag in my boat and on Dry Run Creek. It was large enough to handle the largest trout, had a very long handle and was light enough to use all day. There is something about a wooden net that appeals to me. The problem was that the wooden frame was kept constantly wet in my boat and it was beginning to delaminate.
“I replaced it with a Fish Pond Nomad guide net. It is lightweight (it floats), has a large clear rubber net bag and a long handle. I like it so much that I got my wife, Lori, one just like it to use on Dry Run Creek. I have used it for a few years now and found it to be just about indestructible. It is scratched up a bit but still very functional. I have also acquired a smaller version of it with a shorter handle to carry when I am wade fishing.
“There is always some new gear coming out. Some of it is worth checking out.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.17 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 2-1-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level is at 661 feet msl, it's about 3 feet above pool. Water temps are still hanging around 48 degrees and the water’s been crazy. The lake’s been coming up, Table Rock is dumping on us, and Bull Shoals Dam is generating a lot of water out. From the rain the lake’s cleared up a little bit, but it's moved the shad around quite a bit, those big monster schools of shad that they were seeing for the past month. Those have broken off in the little pods. Some of them are deep. Seeing a lot in 70-80 foot of water in the main channel or off the points. If you can find the shad balls in 30-50 feet of water you can get after them using a spoon or an ice jig. If you're looking to do that, the deep fish you can video-game fish them for a little bit. It's usually good for one or two fish, and then you're just going have to go find the next little ball shad. You can look for the birds, there are still loons on the lake, so if you want to cruise the creek channels, most of those that were in the back or moved out closer to the main lake. Those deep fish, if they're real finicky you can pick some more off using a Dubuque rig or by dropping a mat down in front of them. The bite for that and the ice jig are kind of just leaving the pole sitting still. So, if you are fishing a deep fish you're going to have to work for them a little more than what we have been, spend a little time graphing and it'll pay off. Now with the water temp where it’s at, some shad are dying off and that'll bring into the jerkbait bite, fishing channel swing banks, bluffs, bluff ends, points anywhere close to those shad is probably a good place to start. This time of year if we get a little bit of sun, that's kind of what you're looking for at this time of year. You’re not looking for a lot of wind, but if you do get some wind you can go cranking, you can throw a Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart. Del says he’s using the Red Crawler, the greenback orange belly and the same color in the Wiggle Wart. Depending on how deep the bank is, the channels swing banks with chunk rock on them are kind of what you're going to look for. “The other thing I don't throw a lot but I have thrown it little bit this week is throwing an umbrella rig, an A-rig. This will flat-out catch them. The thing with the A-rig, that bite’s going to get better as the water drops a little bit. I’m catching those fish mostly out of brush piles, keeping the boat in 40 foot of water, brush piles off of bluff ends, anywhere they're close to the main channel where those shad are at. If you're going rig your rig you have to have to use silver with one other different color or you won't catch fish guys. Just mix up the baits and see what they want.
“The last thing is a jig. I’m using either a rubber jig, the jewel jig, and dropping those down in same spots where the shad are out. The jig bites been hit-or-miss but it's going to catch fish year-round. Those are usually a little better quality fish. I’m using the greens, the green pumpkins, brown, something with a little blue in it has been working, too.” Some days are going to be slow out there, it's the dead of winter and some days are going to be really good. You’re going to catch fish, you're just going to have to work for them a little bit harder. Meanwhile, Del will be hitting the fishing and boat shows in the north in coming weeks.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.01 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 2-6-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “It has been a while since I have posted a report on Norfork Lake, but after another visit to see the grandkids, I am back fishing and the fishing has been pretty good. One of the best things about Norfork Lake is the diversity in fish species. If you have followed my reports you know I love to fish for striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass, but if the bite is slow for these species you can switch up and go bass fishing, crappie fishing, walleye fishing or catfishing.” Lou says the white bass bite continues to be outstanding. You can find white bass on the large flats. A couple flats he has fished over the last week are the Cranfield Island flat and the flat east of Howard Cove (locally named Big Sandy) and at times the 101 bridge flat. The best depths have been from 35-55 feet of water and the fish are at all depths. Feeding with the whites are hybrid bass and striped bass. Vertical-jigging a spoon or casting out a blade-type bait such as a Kastmaster are both working well for me. Most days you can catch a boat-full, but of course the changing weather patterns affect the bite of all species. “I have also had luck finding and catching a few nice striped bass in deeper water. I have found scattered stripers on the deep flats outside of deep water channels. These fish have been 40-50 deep and I typically only see a few fish at a time. Several nice-size stripers have been caught by jigging a spoon, as well as by trolling an umbrella rig.”
The crappie bite has also been good over the last week, Lou said. “The best location for crappie are inside one of the newly refurbished Arkansas Game and Fish Commission's fish attractors. I don't remember the exact number, but this group did an incredible job of refurbishing roughly 180 sites on Norfork Lake. I can personally attest that these new brush piles are holding big fish and not just crappie. The crappie that I have caught have been at the bottom of the brush in about 30 feet of water. They do tend to come up off the bottom in the late afternoon following the bait. I have been using a quarter-ounce spoon to catch my crappie, but small grubs (you can tip it with a crappie minnow) are working as well. You can also use live bait with a slip float to catch your fish.”
The largemouth and spotted bass bite has also been very good over the last week. The bass Lou has caught are also buried in the brush, he said. The depth of the fish changes daily and lately 40 feet has been the magic number, but Tuesday afternoon he caught several 30 feet down on the bottom. Deep-diving crankbaits and plastics are working well. Lure action has been the best on the points of bluff-line walls or where the bluff wall changes to chunk rock. Norfork Lake level is falling slowly when the dam is generating and currently sits at 553.98 feet msl. This level is slightly higher than the current normal seasonal pool. Most of the lake is somewhat stained, but the main lake is starting to clear nicely. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning ranged 45-47 degrees depending on fishing location. Lou says he covered a lot of water Tuesday morning. He started in the Cranfield area then headed back to the Howard Cove area, then moved farther back into Bennetts by Fout Marina. “I caught some fish everywhere I fished, mainly white bass and largemouth bass.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 2-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell a foot to rest at 0.8 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are still above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The Norfork has fished well. Navigate this stream with caution as 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 Y2K suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise size 10). The fishing is better in the morning. Dry Run Creek is fishing well. The hot flies have been size 14 sowbugs, size 12 Y2Ks and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10). It is cold out there be sure and bundle the kids up. 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 1-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and a bit high. 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.