Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 10, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report April 10, 2019.

White River

(updated 4-10-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “In the Arkansas Ozarks, on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam, near the peaceful, picturesque town of Cotter, we've been living up to our name: ‘Trout Capitol USA.’” Keep some sculpin handy for those browns that are looking for a fight (and are living up their name, too) and put some pink on your hook for rainbows – pink and/or pink and white egg patterns or worms. “The water level has been fairly steady at a very comfortable four generators and the trout are just waiting for your bait,” they say.

(updated 4-10-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is clear and the Army Corps of Engineers now is slowing the water down, they said. The Corps has been running four generators at the dam. The trout bite is good. Browns are biting shad, minnows and white jigs. The rainbow trout are feasting on pink worms, PowerBait and lures.

(updated 4-10-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week they have had a bit over an inch of rain, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.6 foot to rest at 0.9 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msk. This is 35.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.9 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.2 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 heavy generation and no 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 inches from the top of power pool. We can expect more wadable water in the near future if it would just stop raining.
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 has been some shad coming through the generators at Bull Shoals Dam. John’s favorite fly for this situation has been a white mop fly suspended below an egg pattern. John also said, “In my last report I complained about being tired of fishing high water and dealing with cold and wet conditions. A friend, local photographic artist Bill Barksdale, accused me of whining. I thought about it for a while and realized that he may be right. What I should be writing about is how fortunate I am to have a river boat that allows me to fish under these conditions.
“When I moved here 19 years ago I was a wade fisherman. Before that I had been working for Ducks Unlimited and I had been guiding here part time for seven or eight years. All of my guide trips were wade-only. If they were running water I could not work. If I was going to make a living as a guide, I had to have a boat. As soon as I moved here, I bought a boat, a second-hand 33-inch Shawnee with a beat-up, 15 horsepower Mercury two-stroke engine. It took me a while to figure out how to run the boat without hitting in the river.
“Since then I have had a few boats. I currently fish from a 60-inch Supreme with a Honda four-cycle outboard and a remote control trolling motor. I put on a jack plate so that I can run it in shallow water.
“I am not the only fly-fisher that likes to wade. My brother was a prime example. If he couldn’t wade, he didn’t want to fish. He had a boat for over 10 years but only used it a few times. It spent most of its life in a garage. He was a purist.
“I am a pragmatist. While I prefer to wade, I am all too aware that it is not always possible to wade. I have embraced the boat. I have found it to be easy and effective.
“Many people are surprised that there are limited chances to wade here. Some years are better than others but every year that I have lived here there have been multimonth periods where there was no wadable water.
“The simple answer is to get a boat. I think the best option is a White River Jon Boat. They originated here and are built here for our water conditions. I have seen people try a variety of boat styles. I have seen bass boats, square-stern canoes with a small outboard, and even a float tube with a small engine. They didn’t work too well.
“Several anglers use a drift boat. They are a small rowboat designed for the mountain streams out west. The problem is that they are a one-way trip, downstream. If you want to go anywhere you have to row and that can be tough, particularly in windy conditions. I had a buddy who had one and decided a half-mile from the ramp that he wasn’t going to make it. He ended up being towed back to the ramp with a jon boat. If you are rowing you can’t fish.
“If you want to fish more, embrace the boat. I think you will like it.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.56 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-10-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.78 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-10-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Spring is here on Norfork Lake. Trees and flowers are blooming, and the fish are active. Crappie are very close to their spawn, and I believe a few have already started. The bass are staging for their spawn. Surface water temperature is in the low 60s in the early mornings and rises during the warm days. Water level has been fairly stable. Everything is perfect for a great spring fishing season. Oh, yeah, topwater action is starting and will only get better.”
Lou says the crappie bite has been very good over the last week. Guests are catching nice slabs on the banks by casting out 1/16- to 1/8-ounce Road Runners. “Some other guests and I have been slow-trolling Flicker Minnows in 15-25 feet of water,” he said. Large schools of crappie are either on brush or roaming in between brush piles. “This morning I fished in a couple of small creeks. The crappie were very active until around 9:30 a.m. I was trolling a No. 7 FireTiger and pearl silver-colored Flicker Minnow. When one of the 15-inch slabs hammered the bait, I thought I had hooked up to a hybrid, it was fighting so hard. It was great fun. I released all fish. The best location to look for crappie is back in coves and creeks. When I trolled over brush piles I could see the crappie just sacked in the brush. If a tree was lying down the crappie seemed to be on the trunk side and other fish were roaming away from the brush.”
Largemouth bass and spotted bass fishing have also been good, he said. The best bite appears to be at sunrise and sunset with topwater action occurring during both of these times. “I have been finding most of my fish back in creeks and coves along the shallow shoreline. I have also found them way in the back of these creeks in 6 feet or less of water and several times this was the area for the best topwater action. Alabama rigs, crankbaits and jerkbaits have been the better choices of bait so far for me and some of my guests. Plastics are starting to work, especially the jerkbaits such as Flukes and Bass Assassins with a weighted hook. The largemouth are staging for their spawn, which will start to happen at any time.”
The striped and hybrid bass bite is slowly improving. “They have not moved into my normal early springtime areas, but have been hanging out back in the creeks and some of the larger coves. Once you find the bait, this species will be nearby. The afternoon bite still seems to be a better time to find and catch fish. Topwater action has occurred with hybrids and stripers blowing up on shad in the mornings and evenings, but the locations have not been consistent. It takes some time searching with your electronics, but when you find them, the excitement begins. Trolling for striped bass with an umbrella rig still seems to be a very good way to catch this species. You get to cover a lot of ground when you are trolling and will end up hooking up with some nice fish. Early in the morning throw a Fluke or a jerkbait to the shoreline once you know bait is in the area and you will find some feeding fish. In the late evening and after dark, slow- rolling a stick bait such as a Smithwick Rogue has produced some nice fish for me over the last couple of weeks. This we call the night bite.” The striped bass are coming into very shallow water on points to feed. This species will continue to feed after dark along the shoreline for the next month or until the bait starts to move to cooler water. Norfork Lake level is holding fairly stable with a slight increase due to a rain Monday morning. The current level is 554.77 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature early Tuesday morning was 62 degrees but will rise during the heat of the day. “The lake is getting really clear. I cannot say crystal clear, but if all stays stable it will continue in that direction. I can actually see bass on the shoreline starting to look around for a good nesting area,” he said.

(updated 4-10-20191) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said spring has finally sprung and the stripers, bass and crappie are biting all over Norfork Lake. Limits of crappies are being caught in Bennett's Bayou, Big Creek and Brushy Creek. Some days they are close to the shore, while other days they are on deep brush piles. Jigs, minnows and small spoons are working the best. The lake is warming up fast and the first major shad spawn is coming up soon. It will happen on the full moon period in April and May. “We should start seeing topwater action all over the lake as the stripers begin chasing bait. Our bite the last couple of days has been very early, then it picks up again around 10 a.m. The stripers are hitting gizzard and threadfin shad on floats, longlines and planer boards. Everything is less than 10 feet deep, even over deep water. By week's end you will able to catch stripers early off the main lake points on the south end of the lake, and once the wind begins to blow the bite will happen again on the main lake.” Tom says the water is so clear that once the sun is up the stripers shut down, but once the wind blows and creates waves they will hit a shad again on the windy banks. “We have caught stripers in Bennett's Bayou and Big Creek along with some being caught off deep water main lake points at first light. The night bite should be in full swing and continue for the next several weeks. “Now is the time to hit the lake; the fish are aggressive and ready to bite,” he said.

(updated 4-3-2019) Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service said the Norfork Lake level is normal and the water temp is in the low 50s in the main lake to the upper 50s up in the creeks. The water clarity is clear main lake and stained up in the creeks. The upper end of the lake is a little warmer. There are a few white bass coming up chasing bait along with some black bass. “You can catch the topwater fish on just about any topwater bait. I like to use a Zara Spook,” he said. The bass are hitting jerk baits, crankbaits and swimbaits. The whites are hitting swimbaits as well. “I haven't seen any surface activity for hybrids or stripers, but it will happen soon when the water warms a little more and the weather gets more stable. There are some stripers hitting at night. The bite is only going to get better as we move into April.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 4-10-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.2 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 heavy generation and no 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 inches from the top of power pool. We can expect more wadable water in the near future if it would just stop raining. 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. It has been less crowded after everyone’s spring break ended. 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) and white mop flies.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 4-10-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. 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.