Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 24, 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 24, 2019.

White River

(updated 4-24-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Visitors to and denizens of the Arkansas Ozarks have been blessed with the most gorgeous spring weather this past week; it has been breathtaking. The redbuds brightly budded followed by the dogwoods displaying all their beauty, plus so many shades of new green popping up all around us all attest to Arkansas's nickname: The Natural State.” They report that this week the fishing has taken a backseat to the flora and fauna, but not because it hasn't been spectacular. The brown trout bite continues to be very good, numerous 19-inch to 23-inch fish brought to the boat mostly with smaller-size sculpins and a little chumming of shad. Another hot bait this week is the Vibrax Blue Fox spinners, gold blade, 3/16-ounce or quarter-ounce. “We used them an entire day without a slowdown in the catch. “The water has remained fairly steady at around 3,000 to 4,000 cfs (about a unit from the dam), a little low, so don't use anything too heavy or with multiple hooks lest you get hung up. Come share nature's gifts with us and experience real life on the river.”


(updated 4-24-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is clear and now the river level has been low, meaning that the surface temperature in turn is cooler. Two generators have been running at the dam. And this means, the trout bite the past week has been excellent. Rainbow trout are biting spinners and PowerBait. Browns are favoring rainbow rigs and white jigs.

(updated 4-24-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week they have had an inch of rain, warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.4 feet to rest at 1.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 34.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.5 foot to rest at 0.3 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.7 foot to rest at 0.4 foot above seasonal power pool and 9.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had light generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.5 feet to rest at 2.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork River had less generation and reliable wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are near the top of power pool. Expect more wadable water in the near future if the rain would stop. 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 12 egg pattern with a size 14 prince nymph suspended below it. Use plenty of lead to get your flies down).

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.67 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-24-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said crappie are good on minnows and jigs and are active around brush piles and bushes. Crappie are spawning. Walleye will bite if you’re bottom-bouncing with night crawlers at secondary points. Bream are shallow and the bite is good. They’ve moved onto the shoreline. More of Del’s reports are available on Youtube: Del Colvin, Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 557.30 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-24-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “I have the full moon blues. What is normally a great month (April) to fish when the full moon appears has turned into a nightmare. The water temperature was up to 62 degrees and heading up when a cold snap happened and the lake went back down to 52 degrees. Normally the lake should be around 68 degrees and with the full moon the threadfin shad would be spawning and the fish activity would be crazy. Right now with the clear water and cold nights it has taken forever for the lake to get back to 60 degrees. Hopefully that should change this week and we can get the lake temperature back up and let the spawning process begin. I figure is will be another week or so before we will see any type of spawn. The crappie have moved back to deeper water and being caught over the new brush piles but until it warms up they will stay put.
“This past week I fished all week and I thought it was gone to be great after Monday. I pre-fished Bennett's Bayou Monday morning and had fish going crazy around 8 AM. So the next day I took my clients up there and we did not have a bite in 5 hours of fishing. The following morning I took my clients south to Big Creek and we only had 3 bites. They had booked 2 trips so I suggested we fish the evening since the moon was coming up late and it was almost full. We ended up with 10 stripers and hybrids in the boat. Friday and Saturday nights we fished and caught stripers but the each night the bite was slower. Now I'm off a couple of days and will let my son find the morning fish before I start fishing again on Tuesday. The moon will be fading and staying up during the day so that will help on the daytime fishing.”

(updated 4-24-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said springtime is here on Norfork Lake with fish spawning and topwater action starting. The bite for crappie is very good at this time. Some of the fish were spawning, then we had a cold front roll through last weekend which dropped the lake temperature 4 degrees. With the rainfall the lake has risen about 2.5 feet since my last report. Needless to say, this pushed the crappie off of the banks to their staging areas. Even with all the change, it did not hamper the bite for crappie. At this time one of the best methods of fishing for this species is by trolling small #7 crankbaits. The Flicker Minnow or the Flicker Shad has been working great for me and all of my guests. A darker color, such as, slick firetiger works the best early in the morning before the sun hits the water or on cloudy days. Once the sun gets over the tree line a lighter color, such as, slick pearl silver has been working. Large schools are roaming in 20 to 30 feet of water off of drop-offs or near sunken brush. The crappie are suspended 10 - 30 feet down. Live bait or small jigs should work great once you locate the fish. Some of the best areas are still back in the smaller creeks and coves, but with the weather changes some nice fish have moved out to the mouths of these creeks and coves, especially if there is brush in the area.
The largemouth bass bite continues to be strong. This species has proceeded with their spawn, even with the weather and water level changes. You will still find bedding fish close to the banks and others cruising the shoreline. At sunrise you will find some nice fish up in the sunken buck brush or just to the outside edged of the brush. Plastic jerk baits, such as Flukes and Bass Assassins, as well as, hard jerkbaits are working well inside the sunken brush. Topwater lures are also calling up fish that are in the shallow water. Plastics such as, centipedes, crawdads and worms are also starting to work and are picking up some nice fish. Work your baits slowly on the bottom from the shoreline brush out to about 20 feet of water. Crankbaits are still working at this time. There has been the start of good bass topwater action at sunrise then again at sunset. The topwater bite will only improve with a slow rise in water temperature.
Walleye are finally starting to show up back in the creeks and coves. Various fishing methods have caught this species. A-rigs, trolling a Flicker Shad, vertical jigging a spoon and casting a stickbait up to the shoreline are a few of the methods that are catching fish. The walleye are scattered out, but if you find an area holding bait, you can be assured that there will be walleye in the area.
Catfish are also doing their springtime spawn duties. Jug lines and trot lines are catching some nice fish in shallow water up to around 30 feet down. I have jigged up a few flatheads in 20 feet of water. Live bait, shiners, bluegill and nightcrawlers are all working well.
Striped bass fishing has been the species that has given me the hardest time. I have found the fish, but typically they have been very scattered. I have not found an artificial bait that they want but I'll keep trying until I figure it out! There has been two good methods to catching striped bass at this time. Trolling umbrella rigs has produced some really nice fish for some of my guests over the last week. They troll around 2.5 mph with a 2 oz. umbrella which are baited with 1 ounce hyper striper jig heads. All big baits. The other method has been free swimming live bait using bigger gizzard shad. This species still appears to be back in the creeks with the warmer water. As the lake continues to warm the bait will move out to the main lake points and the striped bass will follow. This will happen soon. I have seen sporadic topwater feeding for striped bass, but this will also increase very shortly. Typically this starts to occur around the same time the shad spawn, which again should be happening shortly. Norfork Lake water level is slowly rising with minimal power generation and currently sits at 557.25 MSL, which is 3.5 feet about normal seasonal pool. The lake surface water temperature has risen to around 62 degrees in the mornings and is higher during the afternoon hours. The main lake is clear and some of the creeks and coves are stained up a little with the rise in water level.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 4-24-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 1.5 feet to rest at 2.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork River had less generation and reliable wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are near the top of power pool. Expect more wadable water in the near future if the rain would stop. 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 of late. 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.
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.
John also said, “I was anticipating a good day wading the Norfork tailwater recently. It had been a long time since I had the opportunity to do so. Bad weather and high water had conspired against me. I can gladly report that the day in question turned out to be a stellar one.
“My wife, Lori, and I left the house about 10 a.m., anticipating that the river would be on the bottom by the time we got there. When I got to the turnoff for the Ackerman Access, she told me she wanted to go to Heidi’s Ugly Cakes in Norfork first. It was about 10:30 a.m. at this time and I thought it might be a bit early for lunch. She said that Heidi’s had been discovered and that it can get a bit crowded at lunch. If we went then, we would avoid the lunch rush. It made sense to me. I drove straight to Heidi’s and was rewarded with a great lunch and quick service.
“After lunch we drove over to the Ackerman access. I was surprised to see that the parking lot was not full. The river was on the bottom, the sun was shining and the temperature was in the high 60s. There was a bit of wind but I considered the conditions to be near perfect.
“We took a few minutes to don our waders and string our rods. We walked up into the catch-and-release section. I went to my favorite spot and Lori went to another spot nearby. My first fish was a fat and sassy 19-inch rainbow. Lori joined me about that time. I gave her my spot and went to another run nearby. On my second cast, I hooked and eventually landed a stout 22-inch cutthroat. Lori took a minute from her fishing to take a photo for me. She soon joined in the fun by catching and releasing a fat 19-inch cutthroat.
“We were fishing a red fox squirrel and copper fly (size 14) with a ruby midge dropper (size 18). It proved to be deadly. We both caught several more good trout on it. After a while, we began working our way back down stream to the access. We were concerned about the water coming up even though the prediction said that we had plenty of time.
“About halfway back, I noticed that the water was coming up. I blew my whistle to warn other waders and we began walking out. We ran into some other anglers (a nice couple from Dallas) who were fishing the Norfork for the first time. They asked what the whistle was all about. I explained that the water was coming up and it was time to get out. They thanked me for the information and joined us in our trip out.
“The hatch that I had anticipated never occurred but the fishing was great nonetheless. The time on the river was a bit shorter than we had hoped for but was memorable.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 4-24-2019) 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 more active with the warm 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.