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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 6, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 6, 2020.

White River

(updated 5-6-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We've been surprised by a few low-water days this week; not low enough to wade very far out, but lower than over the last month. The lakes in our system are all very high right now and will need to drop soon, so expect big water before long.
“Now is a great time to jig; the 1/8-ounce olive green Zig Jig or a white maribou jig are stirring up a lot of excitement among the rainbows and allowing the anglers a fair share of action. Prepare for the coming high water by updating your tackle box: Gold/black and Rainbow Rapala Count Downs (No. 5 and No. 7), a couple of Vibrax Blue Foxes, a few ¼-ounce spoons (red/gold hammered Thomas Buoyants are nice), add a package or two of floating bubblegum pink worms or several San Juan red, pink and natural-colored worms to fill in the empty spots and you'll be ready for the river. Egg patterns are always required.
“Fishers have been blessed with some gorgeous springtime weather aside from a shower or two. Water clarity is great after a day of dinginess from creek runoff. The brown bite has switched back and forth between sculpins and minnows – keep both on hand if possible. The rainbows have been filling up on the large insect hatch we've had this week, so luring them in with a strong scent is the best way to hook some nice fat trout. Garlic PowerBait has proved successful, with either the yellow or white being the best. Watch for gold flashes in the river: the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has recently stocked another batch of golden rainbow trout, and they are quite a sight to see and lots of fun to catch.”

(updated 5-6-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the area is in “flood mitigation” with the Corps of Engineers running eight generators at night and five generators in the day from the dam. Fishing is good for rainbows, but anglers did not catch a lot of browns this week. They also report that some anglers were caught fishing “behind the two billboards where you are not supposed to” and were cited by law enforcement ($220 fines each).
They also report that some walleye are being caught by the spillway.

(updated 5-6-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) had no report.

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 10-18 feet 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.” The lake surface temperature has been hovering around 60-62 degrees. 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 5-6-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) had no report.

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 5-6-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) had no report.