Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 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 March 27, 2019.

White River

(updated 3-27-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says Bull Shoals Lake has reached desired power pool level – a decrease in the output from the dam is anticipated. “We've seen some unusual releases since reaching the desired water level at the lake two days ago: big water coming at us in the morning, then a drop to minimum flow for several hours around noon, then returning to big water early evening and throughout the night. Trout can mostly adjust to water level changes, but it takes some time, so until we see a pattern established with releases be ready to try lots of baits and be surprised when the bite occurs when least expected. For example, yesterday (Tuesday) during the quick drop, the bite was super good on small pink midge flies.
The time is right to get the Zig Jigs and Maribou jigs out again: white on white or white with red or pink heads; silver and blue spoons should prove successful, and crawdads are poking their heads out so Rebel Wee Craws and crawfish (or shrimp) will attract a following. “The days are warming up, the nights not so cold, and the hills are greening. Spring is really here! Come on over.”

(updated 3-20-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is cloudy, as there is fast water. The river level is high with six to eight generators running. The trout bite is fair, and anglers are doing OK.

(updated 3-27-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week they had just a trace or rain, warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.1 feet to rest at 1 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.7 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.9 foot a foot to rest at 1.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 1 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and some wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are near the top of power pool. We can expect some wadable water 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.) There have been some shad coming through the generators at Bull Shoals Dam. John says his favorite fly for this situation has been a white mop fly suspended below an egg pattern.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.62 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 554.49 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 3-27-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said had a fun Tuesday night fishing and says the bite for largemouth bass and striped bass has
been very good on Norfork Lake and it’s starting to get exciting. “My guests and I have found topwater action for largemouth, white bass and striped/hybrid bass over the last couple of days. The lake temperature is rising and the fish are starting to get active and are starting to feed heavily. This is not say you can find the active fish everywhere, but you need to look around and when you find them, the fun begins!”
Lou says he has been doing a lot of searching on Norfork Lake waters from the mid-lake major creeks up to the Bennett's area and also upriver to Missouri waters. “The best locations I have found are back in the bigger creeks and also in a few of the smaller creeks. I have also found the best bite is in the early morning until the sun gets above the tree line and then again in the late afternoon, starting around 4 p.m. until after dark.” This is not to say you cannot catch fish during midday, he adds The fish tend to move out of the shallow water into a little deeper water as the sun comes up. Tuesday this week was a great day for him, Lou said. “I fished both early morning and late afternoon to see if the night bite for striped bass was happening. I found striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass in shallow water early in the morning as well as at sundown. My best baits for striped bass have been a 6-inch swimbait with a 3/8-ounce jighead, a half-ounce silver Kastmaster (blade bait) and then after dark a suspending jerkbait. At around 7 p.m. I saw swirls of big fish right on the surface. The stripers and hybrids were feeding. I landed the first hybrid on the swimbait. A lot of fish were farther from me so I switched to my Kastmaster since I can cast it farther. And the game was on after my bait switch. I would see a swirl, cast out my bait and after one little twitch of the rod tip, my rod would double over and the fight began. This action lasted until it became too dark to see. Once it was dark I switched to a suspending jerkbait. I found that a white or bone-color jerkbait worked the best. I moved up closer to the shoreline and slow-rolled the bait back to the boat, occasionally letting it sit still.”
Lou says he ended up landing nine stripers and hybrid bass with most coming from the topwater action, but the fish did move in tight to the shore after dark following the baitfish to continue feeding. Lou says he landed a nice fat 11-pound striper and a big hybrid after dark on a jerkbait. While I was into fish in one area, several of his guests got into topwater action along a deep bluff line about 2 miles away from where Lou was. “My guests were actually heading up to me when they found their topwater action. We all had a good time. The largemouth bass bite continues to be good. There has been good topwater action for this species early in the morning just as the sun is rising. The best locations have been towards the back of smaller creeks in shallow water, 5-20 feet deep. Just about anything you cast out will catch a fish when they begin feeding like this. My guests have gotten into this action for the last two mornings and have had a blast. Crank baits, Alabama rigs, topwater lures, jerkbaits and Rat-L-Traps have all been catching fish in deeper water and on the banks.
“My 6-inch swimbait is starting to catch some nice largemouth in the deeper water. You need to work the swimbait close to the bottom. If you don't find topwater, the fish will be up tight on the shallow banks out to 20 feet deep. (Tuesday) night when I moved from my first point after dark, I headed in towards a typical main lake point to see if striped bass were feeding along the bank. No stripers on these points, but I did find some really nice-size largemouth right next to the sunken buckbrush. I was casting a suspending jerkbait working it very slowly.”
Norfork Lake’s conditions have become fairly stable over the last several days, Lou reports, with the lake only dropping about an inch a day. The current depth is 554.5 feet msl. “I really do like stable water for fishing. The surface water temperature is rising slowing and has reached the mid-50s. The main lake is clearing nicely and some of the creeks and coves are stained a great fishing color.”

(updated 3-27-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “This past week has been the hardest to catch a morning striper in years. I fished Sunday, Monday and Tuesday mornings in Bennett's Bayou and Big Creek and did not have one bite. The full moon was the main problem. Like deer hunting, the stripers were feeding in the late afternoons and all night. I canceled my Tuesday trip since there was no action for my clients. My Wednesday clients decided to go on an afternoon and we hooked up nine times boating eight stripers and hybrids by dark. My son went out about 8 p.m. and threw some stick baits and hooked eight and boated two in 45 minutes. My Wednesday client had booked a two-day trip but could not go in the evening on Thursday so we did a morning trip. We left at 5:45 am and went up to Cranfield to fish the points where some stripers had been caught. Again we did not have 1 bite but found large schools of largemouth bass off the pine trees in Pigeon Creek. His grand boys had a great time catching 2- and 3-pound bass all morning. Friday night I took my clients out in Big Creek and again hooked up with stripers. Saturday night in the rain my son and I both had clients and he boat three and I only could boat hybrids I had over 6 strikes using gizzards but we could not get a solid hookup. The late afternoon and night bite is the strongest right now and as the south winds blow the night bite will only get better. Fish the shallow flat banks mid-creek starting around 4:30 to dark in Big Creek, Bennett's and Brushy. Some crappies are being caught off the stickups in Bennett's but the majorly of crappie have moved shallow I have catching good size crappie in 4 feet or less throwing my shad net. I asked a crappie fisherman how deep is was fishing and he said 10 to 20 feet and he was having no luck. I told him to go shallow but he looked at me like I was crazy. I have big schools of crappie on brush piles while I'm striper fishing in Big Creek, Bennett's and Pigeon Creek.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 3-27-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 1 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and some wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are near the top of power pool. We can expect some wadable water in the near future. The Norfork has fished better. 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. With spring break it has been a bit crowded. Begin early to avoid the crowds. 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).

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 3-27-2019) 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.