Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 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 March 6, 2019.

White River

(updated 3-6-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says to pull out your sinking line and heavier weights this week; Bull Shoals Dam is releasing a lot of water – six to seven units (19,000-plus cfs). Bank fishing and wading will be difficult until water releases decrease, making this the prime time to fish with a professional. Your river guide takes the hard part of fishing (untangling line, removing hooks, replacing bait, managing the boat and motor, instructing your favorite fishing partner on proper technique) and make it look easy. “I was surprised when, on four units of water, we were catching rainbows with Rooster Tails (white skirts with orange bodies, quarter-ounce, worked best), but not so surprised to hear the bite was still good with shrimp (the "Lazy Man's Crawdad Tails") and white egg patterns. Remember, high water causes bigger fish and offers the best time to use big stick baits. We're experimenting with chartreuse bellied, black back, 5-inch Rogues and loving the catch. See you at the river.”

(updated 3-6-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is “a little cloudy” and the water is cold. The river level is high. There are six to eight generators running. They had people out this past weekend, and anglers caught several browns, though none were large. Overall, the trout bite is good. PowerBaits, Power Worms, white jigs, stick baits all worked. Several rainbows were caught.

(updated 3-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had a trace of rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.9 foot to rest at 9.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.4 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 2.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 6.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 9.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 17 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had some wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the Army Corps of Engineers, the Little Rock District will begin spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps will open six gates of the 12 gates 1 foot each releasing about 4,500 cfs well as 6,000 cfs releases from the two power generation turbines for a total combined release of 10,500 cfs or the equivalent of three hydropower turbines at full power.
John says 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, “Recently I have written a few articles about fishing in the rain. It seems like it has been raining nonstop all winter. Last week was no exception. The good thing was that it didn’t rain all day. We had a light rain early on and a bit of drizzle all day. At least I didn’t have to wear the hood on my rain jacket. When I use the hood my peripheral vision is impaired and I don’t see as well. The light rain didn’t bother us that much. Because of the constant drizzle we wore our rain suits all day mostly to stay warm.
“While the rain didn’t bother us much, the cold did. The temperature hovered just above freezing all day. My client, Jim, was from Minneapolis and the cold bothered him. He had come south to find a little warmth and found cold weather instead. It was a wet cold and felt cooler than the temperature indicated.
“I thought that I was dressed warm enough for the weather forecast. I wore polypropylene long underwear, top and bottom. I also wore flannel-lined khakis, a medium weight wool sweater and a fleece jacket. I donned heavy wool wading socks, muck boots and wool fingerless gloves. I was wearing my fleece-lined Gore-Tex “Elmer Phud” hat with the ear flaps down. On top of all of this I was wearing my rain suit with bibbed rain pants. I was still cold. I felt like I was short about half a layer.
“Despite this the fishing was good. We tried several flies, but a pheasant tail with a copper bead was our top producer. We caught a 22-inch rainbow and several other nice trout in the morning.
“We stopped for lunch around noon. We were so chilled we opted to eat in my Suburban. I ran the heater and we sat in the back seat where there was more leg room and no steering wheel. I had a thermos of coffee that helped warm us. We lingered for a moment to luxuriate in the warmth. It was time to return to the river. I changed my soaked fingerless wool gloves for a fresh dry pair. It made a difference to have warm dry gloves on.
“While we were eating lunch, the water came up a couple of feet. When we arrived that morning, the river was on the bottom. The Corps of Engineers had turned on two full generators (about 6,500 cfs) at 7 a.m. and it had taken about six hours for the water to travel the 24 miles from Bull Shoals Dam to Rim Shoals. The water was flowing better and we were able to drift much better. The fishing was good but not great. We caught enough trout all day to keep our mind in the game. About 4 p.m. we stopped for the day. Jim had landed over 20 trout and was pleased.
“It was time to head home and warm up. After I covered my boat and put away my gear, I put on my fleece-lined house shoes, sat in my leather chair, and my big Labrador, Ghillie, came over to have his ears scratched.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 666.86 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 559.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 3-6-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake spring looks like won’t arrive until late March, based on the forecast. In spite of the weather, the spring fishing has started. “I have fished some in January and February but only had limited success,” Tom says. “For my fishing trips I had scheduled in February, I canceled or moved them to March thinking the weather would be better; but it's not, so I just gave up waiting and started fishing.” The water temperature is around 45 degrees but will warm up on the sunny days. On several occasions, Tom says, he has found water temps in the 52-degree range and caught gizzard and threadfin shad. The backs of most creeks was the warmest, but now the lake is being lowered due to the run-up of over 10 feet above pool and the creeks will clear up. Stripers, hybrids and whites were being caught around 6B in Bennett's Bayou before the run-up. Now they have moved out to deeper water around Fout Marina and Crystal Cove. The best bite was from mid-morning until late afternoon. Shad, shiners, spoons and umbrella rigs have been catching all of the species.
Tom says, “Threadfin shad are holding in most marinas right now and if you have a cast net you can catch them before light most days. My brother came down for the weekend so I took him fishing Friday afternoon and fished the 6A area. He caught his limit in two hours using gizzard shad. On Saturday I caught some threadfin to go along with the gizzards I had and we started fishing around 9 a.m. It took over an hour to catch the first one, we then missed two and by noon only had one on the stringer. I could not get a bite on the threadfin and was running out of them. I rigged up two free lines with only a split shot and went shallow. We had been catching the fish in 45-60 feet of water but the bite quit. I moved closer to shore in less than 30 feet of water and caught a big hybrid and the biggest striper of the trip. It was getting cold, so we quit but my brother caught his limit two days in a row. Not bad for not fishing since the beginning of February.
The stripers will move up the channel towards Fout and the big flat toward Bennett's as the warmer weather begins. Once the south winds stay consistent, Tom advises to start fishing the northern bays and banks. The night bite will start soon, so make sure you fish the northern banks, as they warm the fastest in the spring. These same patterns will happen in all the creeks on Norfork Lake.

(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 the 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 they’ll have a new system roll through to start the cycle all over again. Lou says he will be the first to admit that he is 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, I found fish feeding heavily in 44-48 feet of water on a large flat in the Cranfield area. I did not get out until late morning due to the below freezing temperature early, but once it reached around 29 degrees I 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 ½-ounce 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. Lou says he has landed some really nice slabs 30 feet down near the sunken brush piles. “I typically use a 1/4 -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 upriver in the shallower water awaiting the right timing and water temperature. Bennett's 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, he says. February is usually the time for this to occur. The 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 swimbaits. Norfork Lake level is on a slow rise and sits at 561.92 feet msl. This is about 8 feet over normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature ranges from 43-46 degrees depending on 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 Bennett’s area is stained brown as is upriver past the Cranfield area. A lot of the brown water has dropped out and the remainder will follow suit quickly.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 3-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 9.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 17 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had some wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the Army Corps of Engineers, the Little Rock District will begin spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps will open six gates of the 12 gates 1 foot each releasing about 4,500 cfs well as 6,000 cfs releases from the two power generation turbines for a total combined release of 10,500 cfs or the equivalent of three hydropower turbines at full power.
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 3-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are still 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.