Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

February 27, 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 27, 2019.

White River

(updated 2-27-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the White River below Bull Shoals Dam will be offered a fairly steady flow of water in the coming days because the lake level is sitting at 9 feet above power pool requirements, “and hopefully we'll experience less up-and-down than we saw this last couple of days.” Late winter brings
with it the chance of a shad kill on the lake and the overflow of that food source into the river sets off the famous voracious feeding pattern and easy trout catch anglers love to encounter. Think white for baits and flies this week: shad patterns, white egg patterns, white-bellied stick baits (the water level will support jerkbaits this week), white jigs and minnows. In addition, add lots of flash to the olive or olive-and-brown streamers, sparkling collars on your jigs, or toss out a shiny silver spoon. “March will be blowing in before the week is out, so don't be surprised by some gusty days, just carry more weight on your line and keep on anglin'.”

(updated 2-27-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) had no report.

(updated 2-27-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had rain and a bit of snow and sleet, all combining for about an inch of precipitation there, plus bitterly cold temperatures and heavy wind (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 7.8 feet to rest at 8.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 27.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 2.4 feet to rest at 3 feet above seasonal power pool and 6.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White saw moderate generation and some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 8.8 feet to rest at 10 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 16.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had some 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 above the top of power pool. There is currently flooding downstream so the Army Corps of Engineers will limit generation until the flooding clears. Anglers can expect heavy generation in the near future.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. 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 12 egg pattern suspended below it. Use plenty of lead to get your flies down).
John also said, “We have had a lot of rain lately. Of course, this coincided with some excellent fishing conditions surrounding opening day. The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam was closed to facilitate the brown trout spawn from Nov. 1 until Feb. 1. The trout in this area of the river were not fished over for three months. The period of opening day and a few days after is a great time to target big trout.
“My clients Steve from Kansas City and Jerry from Colorado wanted to go after big fish. While the fishing conditions were good the weather was lousy. The high temperature was in the upper 30s and we were scheduled for two days of unrelenting rain. I had instructed my clients to bring rain gear and to expect to use it.
“It was raining from the beginning. I wore my Simms rain bibs and rain jacket. Under them, I wore fleece pants and a fleece jacket with long underwear and wool fingerless gloves. I tried to get by just wearing my baseball cap but it was soon soaked and I switched over to my Gore-Tex cap lined with fleece. I eventually had to use my hood to keep my neck dry.
“I rigged their rods, launched my boat and began fishing in the rain. There was a dense fog that lasted all day. I could barely see a few feet in front of me and moved cautiously. In the morning, the going was a bit slow. We caught a few nice trout.
“At lunch, we sat in my Suburban to escape the rain for a few minutes. I switched my gloves for a dry pair and we returned to the river. As luck would have it, my boat battery failed and I had to start my motor with my pull starter. Steve landed a stout 24-inch rainbow, while Jerry got a 19. We caught several other nice trout. The fishing in the afternoon was quite a bit better. At 4 p.m., we decided that we had enough. We went our separate ways after agreeing to start anew, at 7:30 the next morning.
“By the time I got home, I was chilled to the bone. I took off my rain suit and hung it up to dry. My fleece jacket was wet to the elbow. The water had wicked up from my wet wool gloves. My feet were cold despite my heavy wool socks. I went to bed early but had trouble sleeping because the sound of the heavy rain and thunder kept me up.
“I got up early the next morning and gathered my gear to prepare for the day. It was scheduled to be cold and rainy all day (heavier than the day before). As I was filling my thermos with coffee, I heard the phone ring. It was Steve. He said that he and Jerry had enjoyed the fishing but were not interested in spending another day in the rain.
“Despite good fishing, the bad weather called off our second day. I was ready to fish but got to stay dry that day. Life is good!”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 668.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 2-27-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said, “The water is coming up, we've got a lot of rain last week. Cold rain, at that. It’s now about 9 feet high and water surface temperature about 45 degrees depending on where you're at. If you get a warm day, the backs of the creeks with the dirty water seem to warm up. That's kind of what I've been keying on,” he said. “However, with it being cold and no warm days in the future, that bite’s not looking so good. I know everyone's chomping at the bit for spring. It's slow.” Del said he’s been away a lot at fishing shows in the Chicago area recently, but he’s been out enough to find a couple of different bites that have been working for him. The deep bite has been slow, but anglers can find it drop-shotting, spooning or using a Damiki rig anywhere in that 25-35 feet range. “If you see them you can video game them and you can pick a few off,” he said, “but it’s going to be hit or miss on that bite.” However, he added, if a warm front comes through, he expects the crankbait bite to pick up. Use a Rock Crawler in natural colors in clear water, or go with brighter colors in the dirty water. “If you’ve got wind and you’ve got sun, it’s going to be a good day to go crank. That bite should get better over the next couple of weeks as the water temperatures start to come up. Hopefully we get a couple more warm fronts.”
Del adds that the jig bite is another that’s been working around the channel swing banks. Look for the chunk rock, the little ledges. He’s had best success in about 15-25 feet depth. “In the creeks has been better for me than out on the main lake,” Del said. Also, he mentioned, he’s found a swimbait bite by throwing a single swimbait and slow-rolling it as slow as possible. He’ll says to look for the shad, and if there are loons and seagulls and little pods of shad he’ll pick up a jerkbait or a swimbait to get a few more fish. The jerkbait is working over the points with brush piles. Del says the new brush piles are still holding some fish. Del also notes that the Alabama rig has been kind of the bread-and-butter for wintertime fishing there and that probably will continue until the warm up. He also says he’s seen a few crappie stacked up in the brush piles. The walleye jerkbait is getting close, too, he says.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 563.84 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 2-20-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake, along with the majority of the country, in his opinion, is in constant weather change. “After a frontal system rolls through our area it typically takes a day or two for the fish to get active again. Once this happens the fish feed with a frenzy, but then we have a new system roll through to start the cycle all over again. I will be the first to admit that I am really ready for spring to get here. I am totally tired of the cold weather and need a little consistent warmth for my fishing days.” Last Saturday, Lou found fish feeding heavily in 44-48 feet of water on a large flat in the Cranfield area. He did not get out until late morning due to the below freezing temperature early, but once it reached around 29 degrees he headed out. The fish stuck around until mid-afternoon and I got to land well over 40 fish between hybrid bass, striped bass and white bass. Vertical jigging with a 1/2 to a 1 ounce spoon was my bait of choice. I was also casting out a ½-ounce blade bait with a feather trailer and landed some nice fish with it. Once the fish leave the flats they tend to scatter throughout the deeper water, staying suspended 30-50 feet down. You will still catch fish, but not necessarily the numbers.
Crappie fishing has been fairly good as of late, but still the frontal systems have affected their bite. I have landed some really nice slabs 30 feet down near the sunken brush piles. I typically use a ¼-ounce spoon and jig it very slowly in and around the brush piles on the bottom. Live bait with a slip float or a minnow tipped to a small curly or paddle tail grub will work great.
“The big white bass that I have been catching are full of eggs. I would assume they are staging for their upcoming spawn, which will happen shortly. The males should be way back in the creeks or up river in the shallower water awaiting the right timing and water temperature. Bennetts Bayou is a great place to get into the white bass run or up river around the Arkansas-Missouri border. They also tend to head back into some of the larger creeks and coves.”
Walleye should also be gearing up for their spawn. February is usually the time for this to occur. The Arkansas-Missouri border area is a good area to find the spawning and pre-spawning fish. “If we can get some nice weather, the first hour before sunrise and an hour before and after sunset are great times to fish for walleye in shallow water.” Throw a suspending rogue or use soft plastic swim baits. Norfork Lake level is on a slow rise and currently sits at 561.92 feet msl. This is approximately 8 feet over normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature ranges from 43-46 degrees depending on your location and time of day. The main lake has a greenish stain along with most of creeks and coves. The water clarity heading up in the Bennetts area is stained brown as is up river once you're past the Cranfield area. A lot of the brown water has dropped out and the remainder will follow suit quickly.

(updated 2-27-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 2-27-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 8.8 feet to rest at 10 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 16.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had some 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 above the top of power pool. There is currently flooding downstream so the Army Corps of Engineers will limit generation until the flooding clears. Anglers can expect heavy generation in the near future.
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 sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 2-27-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are 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.