Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 13, 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 13, 2019.

White River

(updated 3-13-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the weather's been chilly, the water has been high and the brown trout bite has been phenomenal. The favorite bait for the lunker browns landed this week has been shiner minnows caught fresh out of the river. Check out the video fishing report at to see pictures of some of the great trout reeled in just this week. The high water has
also been helping the rainbow trout grow and they’ve had many very healthy-sized rainbows pulled in. Pink PowerBait worms in conjunction with white PowerBait have been the best way to hook the rainbows. “Pack an extra jacket and come to the White River for some great trout fishing right now,” they say.

(updated 3-13-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is fair but a little cloudy, as there is fast water. The river level is high with six to eight generators running. Despite that, five browns were caught that were about 23 inches in length. The trout bite overall is good. PowerBait is working well, and river rigs were catching their share. Rainbows are doing well, they report.

(updated 3-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had just a trace of rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.9 feet to rest at 6.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 29.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.5 feet to rest at 0.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell a foot to rest at 1.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 4.2 feet to rest at 5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District began spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps opened six of the 12 gates 1 foot each, releasing about 4,500 cfs as 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 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 mentions the upcoming Sowbug Roundup at Mountain Home: “It is that time again, just a few weeks till the Sowbug Roundup. I admit that this is my favorite fly-fishing show ever and I have been to a bunch of them. I have traveled to Oregon, Montana, Tennessee and Georgia and the best one I have ever attended was right here in Mountain Home. It is produced by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization and our local fly fishing club. The proceeds from Sowbug are allocated to funding local scholarships. I have been a member since I moved here 19 years ago.
“This is basically a fly-fishing show that has become the premier fly-tying event in the South and arguably the top show in the United States. This is their 22nd year. I have attended the last 19 and regret missing the first two.
“This year’s Sowbug will be held at the Baxter County Fairgrounds in Mountain Home on March 28-30. Admission is only $10 for all three days. Children accompanied by an adult are admitted free.
“The big draw is the fly-tyers. There are over 100 from all over the United States. The show is set up so that you can easily watch the tyers and also interact with them. Questions are always welcome. The tyers want to show you what they are doing. I learn something from every tyer that I watch. Over the years I have met and become friends with a number of the tyers and attendees. As a result this has become a major social event for me.
“There are also several vendors. The Golden Rule Fly Shop is one of my favorites. I always buy hooks that I cannot find anywhere else. Dally’s Ozark Fly Fisher is always there, as are several other fly shops. There are a variety of other vendors. I always have a booth where I promote my guide service and sell used fly tackle. My sister, Ernestine, always flies in from Memphis to help me.
“Seminars are always a big draw. There are several this year about fishing streamers. I am presenting one on how to fish soft hackles, nymphs and dry flies. That is basically everything but streamers. My wife, Lori, the top fly-casting instructor in the area, will be teaching two casting classes. There are several other classes. All seminars are free and open to all attendees. Some classes may have an attendee limit.
“There are a number of raffles, auctions and silent auctions. On Friday night there is a Shindig, our tyers’ dinner. There is a big auction and the winners of the fly-tying contest are announced. I am chairman of the fly-tying contest and this is where we get to acknowledge the best tyers among us. There are a few tickets available.
“Don’t miss this year’s Sowbug. I think it will be the best ever. Stop by my booth and I will tie you a fly.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 663.82 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 556.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 3-13-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Sometimes you have to look in the mirror and tell yourself that you are wrong and change the game plan. I had been catching threadfin shad in the marina for two days and could not keep them alive. I called on some experts and got lots of advice that I tried, but nothing worked.
“On the night of the second day I woke up and said it’s time to switch baits. In the morning I went to Gerry's Quick Stop and purchased 2 pounds of large shiners. I started fishing where I had caught fish the previous weekend but after two hours and no bites I moved to the flat above Fout Marina and started catching stripers right away. By the end of day one trip we boated eight hybrids and stripers. We also missed as many fish. Day two we caught fish right away but also kept missing them. The stripers were bigger on day two and we finished with a limit but only kept five, keeping the bigger fish.”
Tom says there are large schools of threadfin shad on the flat by Fout Marina and on the flat above Fout. He says he’s been running 10 rods, two planer boards, six long lines with only a split shot, and two downlines set at 20 feet. His groups caught or had bites on all the type of rigs.
Stripers and hybrids will continue to feed before their spawn. You can catch fish in the Fout area, Big Creek above Reynolds Island and also Brushy Creek. “I caught fish 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 midmorning until late afternoon. Shad, shiners, spoons and umbrella rigs have been catching all of the species. The threadfin shad are dying by the thousands and will continue to until the water temperature hits and stays above 50 degrees.
“We need warm nights and south winds to warm the water. Once that happens the lake will explode with fish being caught all over the lake. Once the south winds begin blowing, start fishing the northern bays and banks. The night bite will start after that, so 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 3-13-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is starting to pick up for all species. “It would even get better if Mother Nature would give us some consistently nice weather, but I guess we cannot control the weather.” The water temperature is starting to rise again, but it is still 4-5 degrees colder than it was at this time last year, which was in the low 50s. Spring is on the way. The long-range weather forecast looks great with warmer, dryer weather. Everything is looking up!”
Lou says crappie fishing is improving. Some say the evening bite is the best, he notes, but the morning bite was fairly decent Monday for Lou. “I headed out to check some new water for striped bass. During my graphing exercise I would occasionally stop and fish nearby brush piles. I checked out some 45- to 50-feet-deep brush, but found no fish and also checked out some 20-feet brush with no fish. The 30- to 35-feet-deep brush piles appeared to be the best for me. The crappie that I found were buried inside of the brush towards the bottom. I caught some nice fish in the 11- to 13.5-inch range, along with a few short fish. All were released. I was jigging with a quarter-ounce white with chartreuse back spoon. The bite was super light. Live bait would work well with a slip float or used with a small curly or paddle tail grub.
“Crappie have also started to move under my dock. One of our guests, between rain showers (Tuesday), fished our dock with a small Kastmaster. He landed three nice crappie along with many short bass. As the water continues to warm, the crappie will gradually move towards shallower brush piles. I mainly found my fish on main lake brush or brush at the mouths of coves.”
Lou says largemouth bass fishing has also been good. This time of year he has typically found nice bass in deep, 40-50 feet of water, but that's not the case this year. The bass have moved up in shallow water and are being caught on crankbaits and jerkbaits. “I was talking with Paul, the owner of Gerry's Quick Shop, about the bass bite. He is definitely in the know, as a lot of his shoppers are bass fishermen. Gerry's is one of the largest tackle shops in Mountain Home and is definitely a go-to bait shop for many. The current color is red and the old standby of peanut butter and jelly. The green-to-clearer water is holding more of the bigger fish than the stained, brown-tinted water. Main lake shallow points have been a great area to fish as of late, especially if the deep water channel swings in close to the point. Once the water level stabilizes, the backs of creeks will become the go-to spots. As with other species, when the water warms, the bass will become more active and start gearing up for their spring time spawn.”
Striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass fishing has also been good, he said, but not consistent. “I am finding these species on large flats in 27-60 feet of water. When I find them on a main lake flat they have been in the deeper water of 40-60 feet. They are typically suspended at all depths. When I head back to a major creek flat, I am finding them in 27-35 feet of water, and again they are at all depths. The water has typically been several degrees warmer back in the major creeks, so the fish are shallower. I have been using live bait, either thread fin shad, gizzard shad or shiners, and they are all working well. With live bait, I have a couple of downlines set around 30 feet and then a couple of free swimming baits with a small split shot. Vertical-jigging with a spoon, one of my favorite methods of fishing, is also catching some nice fish. Trollers are picking up some nice fish trolling large swimbaits or umbrella rigs. There are scattered striped bass throughout the lake and they are typically suspended down to the 50-foot level. The whites are in the process of spawning or have finished up the process. Once they complete the spawn they will move out into the main lake, assuming the warming trend continues.
Norfork Lake level is falling fairly rapidly as the Army Corps of Engineers has opened some of the spillway gates to evacuate the excess water. The lake level sits at 556.93 feet msl, which is less than 4 feet above normal seasonal pool. The lake surface water temperature has been in the mid- to upper 40s. Some of the creeks and coves are stained and the main lake is starting to clear. The lake is in great shape and fishing is a lot of fun. “Don't forget that Hummingbird Hideaway Resort's Facebook page has daily fishing updates on current catches by our guests and me,” Lou says.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 3-13-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 4.2 feet to rest at 5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water. In an effort to lower the water level on Lake Norfork the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District began spillway releases from Norfork Dam to evacuate stored flood water. The Corps opened six of the 12 gates 1 foot each, releasing about 4,500 cfs as 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 over the past year. 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. 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 3-13-2019) 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.