Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 29, 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 29, 2020.

White River

(updated 4-29-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “There is nothing better than a spring day in the Arkansas Ozarks fishing on one of our many rivers or streams or lakes. We're partial to trout fishing on the White River, but when the Buffalo National River reopens, get ready for some great smallie fishing on water that has been untouched by an angler's line for over a month! Imagine that … But, turn back to trout fishing because we've had a pretty awesome week. Although the three dams that ultimately affect our fishing here in the north-central area of The Natural State are all busily producing power by running tons of water into the rivers because the lakes are filled with spring rain, we're still netting exquisite trout.
“Nearer the dams, you'll find your best catch will be casting and trolling in the center of the river, right in the middle of the current. That's because warmer surface water from the lakes hits the rivers when the dams use spillways to increase the amount released, and we know trout like cold water. Keep to the center when spillways are in use. No surprises that the browns continue to chase mid- to large-size sculpins; rainbows will bite at fluorescent yellow or lemon-lime eggs with shrimp. These water conditions beg for big stick baits. There's a nicely producing Olive Green X-Rap with a 3-to 5-foot swimming depth and a flashy white feather, or the number 9 or 11 gold/black Rapala Countdowns should attract a nice selection of trout. The 3/8-ounce Smithwick suspending Super Gold Rogue or the Foxy Momma 4½-inch rogue will tempt a curious brown or cut.
“So far there aren't any social distancing rules between anglers and trout, so plan your next trip when possible and we'll celebrate on the river.”

(updated 4-29-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is “green colored.” The water is high, and the gates at the dam are still open. The trout bite picked up, with anglers having good results. Brown trout are going after streamers. Several rainbows were caught as well.

(updated 4-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had two rain events (combined for a little less than 2 inches), cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 foot to rest at 22.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 13.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 2.1 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 12.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 8.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 16.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The White has fished well. The hot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. 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 deep-water worm with a weighted egg suspended below it).
Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 16.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 683.35 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-29-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is murky. Surface water temperature is 60 degrees (as of Tuesday afternoon) and the lake is 24 feet above normal conservation pool. Crappie reports are fair. Crappie are shallow and spawning, he said, and subsequently hard to find right now. Black bass are all at different stages of the spring – some are post-spawn, he said, others are spawning and some are pre-spawn. Your best bet is to fish them with Senkos, floating worms and 2.8 swimbaits. No reports on bream or catfish, Del says. Walleye are good. “People are starting to catch walleye pretty well,” he offers. Visit Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on catching the fish in Bull Shoals Lake.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 569.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 4-29-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been pretty good. The best bites on the lake are for crappie, large & smallmouth bass, walleye and then striped bass. Hey wait, that is most species in the lake!! Yes, most species are biting and the best bite is early in the morning and late in the afternoon. This is very typical for this time of year, sunrise and sunset are the best time to find active fish.
Two methods of fish are working the best for crappie. (1) Trolling Berkley Flicker Minnows size 7 and size 9. The size 7 get down to about 15 feet and the size 9 goes to about 20 feet. I troll with my trolling motor and travel about 1.2 mph. I fish in coves that have a lot of sunken brush piles. Somedays the fish are scattered out anywhere from 20 feet of water out to 40 feet. (2) Vertical jigging a small spoon or a small grub with a jig head. Find brush in 25 to 35 feet of water and then locate the part of the brush pile the comes up in the water column the highest. I am finding crappie suspended 10 to 25 feet deep. Vertical jig for them or mark your spot with a float, then cast to this spot with a slip float and then slightly twitch the line to keep the grub moving slightly. You can also tip the grub with a live minnow to get more action.
Largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass are hanging around close to shore. With the high water there is a lot of sunken buckbrush 10 to 18 feed deep. The fish are hanging inside the brush. On windy days cast out a spinner bait and work it on top of the brush. You can also use grubs, worms or flukes and cast them to just outside the brush and let them sink to the bottom. I would think that a Ned Rig would work great at this time, just outside of the brush. Many times, when you lift the bait off the bottom there is a fish on. Right at sunrise and again at sunset there is topwater action for this species. Any topwater bait or a swimbait will work great. Long shallow points, part way back into coves and also on the shallow side of the main lake are great places to try.
The walleye bite has been getting better for me. I have picked up some walleye when trolling my Flicker Minnows in 20 – 30 feet of water and also when I’m fishing close to the sunken buck brush on long shallow points. On these points I have been casting out a 6-inch swimbait and have been doing well for most species including Walleye. Once the bait starts to move onto the flats, bottom bouncers with nightcrawlers will start to work great. I have also done very well for walleye before sunrise, in the dark, using my swimbait in similar types of areas as long as there is bait in the area.
The bite for striped and hybrid bass has also been fairly good, but this bite has been inconsistent for me. One day I find the bait and the fish are nearby feeding, then the next day they are gone and I am out looking again. The cool weather frontal systems that we have been having weekly, affect this species the most. I also think the changing surface temperatures due to these frontal systems have a big role on striped bass feeding habits.  I have found stripers in 2 different parts of the lake, but very similar types of areas.  There have been days when the fish move out to deep water, 50 to 70 feet of water, and suspend from the surface down to 20 or 30 feet. Live bait is working very well, but casting out swimbaits is working the best for me. Other days I find them close to the shore line, especially long shallow points that have lots of flooded buck brush. The bait moves into the buck brush to hide and the fish follow. Pitching live bait with no weight into 10 to 20 feet of water then waiting for the pole to bend to the water before setting the hook is working, as well as, casting out swimbaits or shallow diving hard baits such as a suspending jerkbaits.  I have gotten into some good topwater action for stripers, but not on a daily basis. This action is typically when I find the fish and bait out in deeper water. That is not to say throwing out a Zara spook into shallow water will not call a fish up.
If you enjoy looking at Facebook, go to Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page and you will get frequent and most times daily fishing reports and daily catches. My Facebook page is a great place to check out the most current fishing information on Norfork Lake.
"We had a big rain last evening and the lake is again on a slow rise. It came up 3.5 inches over night and the Corps of Engineers has just reduced the out flow of water so expect the lake to come up a little more. The lake surface temperature has been hoovering around 60 to 62 degrees. The lake has cleared up nicely, but with last nights rains I would expect the backs of the creeks and coves will become slightly stained. Overall fishing has been good and with stable weather and water levels the bite will become outstanding.

(updated 4-29-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “I was wrong last week when I said this past week would see lots of fish activity on Norfork Lake. The warm weather promised never materialized. Instead we had rain almost every day with some heavy downpours. There was some shad spawning in Big Creek last Wednesday afternoon (April 22). I was crappie fishing with no luck because the crappie are still off the banks. My son was catching shad and found threadfin spawning in a debris slick on a bluff wall. I assumed that was happening all over the lake until Sean told me the main lake was only 60 degrees. Sean had several good days fishing the main lake points near the dam, but the weather kept changing the pattern. One day stripers were active on the main lake and then the next day they were way up the creek. Nothing is consistent right now. Once we see consistent warm nights and south winds, the whole lake will see topwater bites and lots of feeding activity.
“The stripers should begin to feed on the main lake points and near mid-creek bluffs and on the flats up the creeks. Some good places to try this time of year are: Cranfield Island, Crystal Cove, Koso Point, Dam Cove, Big and Brush creeks, Woods Point, Diamond Bay, Thumb Point and School Bus Point.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 4-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 16.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock, Bull Shoals 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 there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole due to flooding. 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 (size 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. With the coronavirus there is little pressure. 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.

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 4-15-2020) 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.