Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 17, 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 17, 2019.

White River

(updated 4-17-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The warm weather is here and the fishing is hot on the rivers here in the Arkansas Ozarks. On the White River, the brown trout have been biting anything from minnows to sculpins and some silver flash lures. Some browns have even been caught on the old standby of PowerBait and shrimp. Rainbow fishing has been good, with many larger ones being pulled in on white jigs. The annual stocking of the cutthroat trout occurred last month, and several cutthroats have been reeled in on yellow egg patterns owing to its resemblance to fishery food. Won't be too long before the cutthroats will be larger and giving anglers a run for their money; but even these small ones are aggressive and will try to capture a minnow more than half its size. On the Buffalo National River, the smallmouth bass were loving 6-inch salt lizards (green pumpkin with red sparkle), or try a skirted 1/8-ounce mushroom jig for more action. Whenever planning a trip to the Buffalo River, be aware of the possibility of rising water levels; it's a gorgeous, naturally flowing river and is often quickly affected by precipitation. The ever-changing April weather means bring your rain gear (just in case) and come to the rivers for some all-round great fishing.”

(updated 4-17-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is clear; on Monday they reported the river conditions as “wonderful today.” The water is down, but they say the weekend was terrible for anglers. River level is normal and the Corps has three generators running. The trout overall are good. Some nice browns were caught, and anglers also caught as many rainbows as they wanted earlier this week.

(updated 4-17-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week they have had half an inch of rain, warmer temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.7 foot to rest at 0.2 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.1 feet to rest at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool and 16.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.9 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 a 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 limited wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are below or inches from the top of power pool. 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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 660.01 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-17-2019) 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 555.48 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-17-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said this past week we saw a lot of big fish caught on Norfork Lake. Most were released however some people just cannot help themselves and instead of getting a replica of the fish they decide to kill it. The number one question I get asked is are you catching any big ones and the answer is not often and when we do we ask that you release it. We caught 4 this week that were to 18 to 25 pounds and they all went back into the lake. When you have the ability to release a big fish this time of year you should because this lake never has enough big ones. It takes years to produce a 30 fish but only a few seconds to end its life. When we get to the warm water period you will need to keep the fish but now is the time of year to release it. If you follow the guides on the White and Norfork river they all release the big browns to be caught again. Let's start doing the same on Lake Norfork.
Tom says that when the south wind blows on Lake Norfork in the spring it's time to fish the north banks mid-morning. A case in point is that I had put off taking a client for two weeks due to the weather and finally decided the time was right and took them Wednesday. We started at 6AM and by 9:20 we had no bites and I was kicking myself for taking them. I noticed the wind was starting to blow so I told them lets go fish the wind. Our guide boats are built for high rough water and we have no problem fishing two foot waves. I told them to a hang on and in 20 minutes we had 5 stripers in boat and missed as many. My son went out that evening in an even stronger wind and caught just as many but bigger. We both did it again on Thursday. I was by myself and I finally had to just fish with 2 rods because the bite was so strong. Friday morning was just the opposite, the temperature dropped 40 degrees and we had a northwest cold wind and the main lake dropped 8 degrees. I went to the same spot and only caught 1 that morning and my son only caught 2. On Saturday I went up the creek and found 62 degree water and caught 6 again by myself fishing the windy shores. I saw some hybrids breaking the surface so I expect to see more topwater this week as we return to warmer weather. The night bite in Diamond Bay is in full swing and should continue for the next several weeks. Now is the time to hit the lake. The fish are aggressive and ready to bite.

(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 4-3-2019) 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 4-17-2019) 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 a 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 limited wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are inches from the top of power pool. 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 4-17-2019) 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.