Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 8, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report April 8, 2020.

White River

(updated 4-8-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Trout fishing the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks rewarded anglers over the last week with some beauties.  Sculpins were the big favorite of the browns running the 18 mile stretch between Wildcat Shoals and Ranchette access. Naturally, traffic on the river has been low and slow due to COVID-19 travel restrictions but conditions are working in our favor for a fantastic fishery when restrictions are lifted.
Current lake levels in the watershed are high requiring near-maximum water releases from Bull Shoals, Norfork, Table Rock and Beaver dams, causing higher than normal river levels.  With fewer fishers and the possibility of good feeding waters for growth, catching is going to be at an all time high when everybody can get back to the river with rods, reels and creels. 
Shore fishers have been trolling night crawlers for a healthy bite, and multicolored Power Bait (Sunrise, Lemon lime, rainbow) has been flying off the shelves onto number 6 size Aberdeen bronze hooks, barbed and barbless, to nab those multicolored (rainbow) trout.
Can't wait to welcome you back.  Stay safe and please follow guidelines for good health. ”

(updated 4-8-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said Tuesday that no one had been fishing the river in a week. The previous week, the trout bite was good. Some anglers had caught some rainbows, they said, but hardly anyone is fishing.

(updated 4-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had During the past week, we have had several rain events (combined for about 1.25 inches), warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 4.3 feet to rest at 22.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 13.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 2.1 feet to rest at 5.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 10.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 8.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 4.9 feet to rest at 17.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavier flows and no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The White has fished well. The hot has been Rim Shoals on lower flows. 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 pheasant tail nymph worm with a ruby midge suspended below it).
John also said, “Like the rest of you, my wife, Lori, and I are trying to survive this pandemic. We have been cooped up in our house. With the exception of working in the yard, our only road trips have been to the grocery store, the bank, the pharmacy and to restaurants to pick up takeout food. We needed something different to do. I read an article online where Gov. Asa Hutchinson mentioned that fishing was a safe pastime, if proper social distancing was maintained. Fresh air and sunshine were calling. As an avid fly-fisher, that was music to my ears.
“Lori and I were ready to go. I checked the conditions and noted that there were some moderate flows on the White River that were perfect for drift-fishing from a boat. The weather was to be sunny and warm with light winds.
“I woke up at 5 a.m. and left the house about 7 a.m. I was the third boat on the ramp. When Lori and I fish I always go early. I rig the rods, launch the boat and begin fishing to figure out what is working. Lori feeds our dogs and walks them and gets to the river as soon as she can. I was on the water by 8 a.m. I met a few fishing buddies on the ramp. We talked about fishing but kept our distance.
“I had started with the rig I had used on my last fishing trip. That consisted of a size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. I had an AB split shot and a strike indicator above them. The distance from the dropper to the strike indicator was 5.5 feet.
“I caught a nice trout almost immediately. The next came quickly. Over the next hour I netted six and missed a few others. About that time, Lori called me on my cell phone to tell me that she was on the ramp. I boated over to pick her up. I noticed that the ramp was busy. It seemed that everyone had the same idea. There were no parking spaces left in the ramp parking lot and some cars with trailers were parked along the road. I saw several anglers that I knew. We all talked, kept our distance and safely enjoyed the day.
“Lori and I began fishing. It turned out to be a stellar day. We were catching trout after trout. We had no less than six doubles (where we both caught a fish at the same time). When Lori and I fish together, I put two boat nets in the boat. We both net our own trout. We fished until noon and ended our day with between 40-50 trout.
“We caught a nice day, enjoyed a safe trip on the river and caught plenty of fish. It was just what the doctor ordered.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 681.70 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-8-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that the lake clarity is very clear and the level continues to rise, now up to 22 feet above normal pool as of Tuesday afternoon. He said the fishing “is pretty good most days.” Crappie are fair. Del says they are spread out. The males are in the shallows wanting to spawn. Black bass are good. In fact, Del says, “Bass is easy fishing right now.” He recommends Ned rigs, Senkos, jigs and “pretty much anything.” Bream fishing is poor. Catfish are good, though. Anglers are catching catfish about 32 feet deep under shad balls. View Del’s YouTube videos (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for the latest in what’s biting and what Del is using, plus his tips on how to fish the various lures.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 570.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 4-8-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “We have not been doing much fishing due to the virus travel shutdown. Our clients are abiding to restrictions and have been postponing their upcoming trips. The lake rose up to 571 feet msl, which 18 feet above pool. Two gates at the dam are open 1 foot but this will only maintain our level. Until they get serious about reducing the lake, we will continue to see the lake rise since we are getting rain every two or three days.”
“The warm weather will improve fishing for Norfork Lake stripers, bass and crappie. The crappie is the best bite right now. They are moving closer to shore as the water warms. I would expect to see an early spawn by this weekend if we do not get much rain this week. Stripers will be in their normal spring pattern. Fish the main lake points early and wait for the wind, then fish the windy banks using shad or shiners. The other pattern is to move to the upper end of creeks in the stained water and fish the flats staying in 30 feet or less. Run planer boards next to shore and longlines along with a couple of downlines.
“Minnows and small jigs will be the most productive baits to catch crappie in the brush. The best three creeks right now are Big Creek, Bennett's Bayouand Pigeon Creek.”

(updated 4-8-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 4-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 4.9 feet to rest at 17.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavier flows and no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The Norfork is fishing better. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during recent flooding. 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 ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing very well. The weekends can be pretty busy. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
Remember that the White River, Norfork tailwater and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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

NOTE: The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, at the urging of Gov. Asa Hutchinson, has closed access to the Buffalo National River for the time being due to the coronavirus pandemic.

(updated 4-8-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. The smallmouths are much less active in the cold weather. 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.