The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

June 24, 2015

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Some photos of our guided trout fishing customers
taken this week at Cotter Trout Dock.

Click images to enlarge.

Fishing Report From Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Bull Shoals

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 682.29 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(Updated 6-3-2015) Ken Minsky of Ken Minksy's Loch Leven Guide Service said Bull Shoals is again on the rise. The surface water temperature is around 75 degrees near Point 24, and the water clarity pretty dingy in the back of the creek arms. There also is plenty of debris and logs floating around, so be careful boating in low-light conditions. Shoreline brush is covered to the depth of about 20 feet, making it difficult to fish with sub-surface baits anywhere near the shoreline.  However, surface baits like Spooks as well as un-weighted and underweighted flukes are producing bass. Low-stretch, abrasion-resistant lines are the order of the day to enable you turn the fish quick and keep them from diving into the submerged tangles. Main lake points and deeper flats are much easier to fish and are producing smallmouths and white bass during the low-light periods of dawn and dusk. Try bottom-bouncing jigs and Carolina-rigged soft plastics on the points that are clear of brush. For the flats, use a spread of trolled crankbaits that cover the whole water column, from depths of 6 feet down to about 15 feet.  Fish roaming the flats could be just about anywhere so zig-zag the spread over depths of 20 to 50 feet. Larger creek arms are producing nice catches of walleyes. Trolling crankbaits that dive to 12 to 16 feet are doing well just outside of the submerged brush. Bream are showing up in the usual spawning areas on main lake cuts and soft secondary points in depths of about 20 feet. Fishing the edge of the brush without getting hung up is pretty tricky business, so plan on losing a few baits and hooks. Catfishing is good on trotlines with nice catches coming from the creek arms. Just about any bait will work, bluegills are always my first choice. However, stink baits and even hot dogs are working well on channel cats.
(Updated 6-22-2015) Bull Shoals Boat Dock said the water has risen again with the rain and surface temperature is in the low 80s. There is a major thermocline around 25 feet deep. The fishing has been excellent. Largemouth bass are holding very shallow and can be caught from 0 to 12 feet deep around brush on spinnerbaits, Flukes, Spooks, soft-plastic worms and flipping jigs. Smallmouth and spotted bass are holding on the lake side of the brush and are running in 12 to 20 feet of water. Fish parallel to the bank in the deeper water with swimming plastics that look like minnows, tubes, Carolina-rigged soft-plastics, deep-diving crankbaits and Alabama rigs loaded with small swim baits. White bass  have slowed, but you can still catch them surface feeding on shad from time to time. The night bite should start any time now under lights. Trollers are catching the most white bass on small white jigs, spinners, spoons and minnow-style crankbaits. Walleye are biting very well, with many walleye being caught, but keepers hard to come by. The best patterns have been trolling with dee-diving crankbaits in 20 to 25 feet of water, bottom bouncing nightcrawlers in 20 to 25 feet of water and swimming grubs at sunrise and sunset in 12 to 15 feet of water. Crappie are fair, and most can be caught around brush piles in 20 to 35 feet of water right now. Try small spoons, minnows and 1/32-oz. jigs. The catfishing is excellent on jugs baited with liver, shrimp, stink bait and live baitfish set 20 to 25 feet deep. 

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 6-24-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is low and clear right now with three generators running in the mornings, but that could change any day. Mornings are good for trout fishing, with worms, shrimp, Power Bait and crickets catching plenty of rainbow trout. Brown trout are biting very well on artificials early in the morning as well.
(Updated 6-17-2015) Paul Bobby at GI on the Fly Guide Service (907-350-6610) said the White River below Bull Shoals to Cotter has been fishing excellently. Afternoon generation is making it tough. Lines, weights and bait or flies are covered with debris. Morning half-day fishing trips are the ticket. Take care and be safe on the river. Morning fly-fishing with ruby midges and hare's ear droppers or assorted flashbacks under indicators are the perfect presentation for feeding trout. Several browns have been caught and a ton of rainbows. Caddis are in massive amounts from the Narrows to Cotter, which gives a dry fly fisherman a paradise beyond all others. Hopper patterns and even a size 12 Madam X with a size 16 flashback dropper hammers them. Bait fishermen casting green Power Baits or green worms and shrimp are catching large numbers of trout. Spinners and stick baits catch fish as well. 
(Updated 6-22-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said on the White, we had moderate to high generation with no wadable water. On heavy generation, the best way to catch fish is to switch to longer leaders and heavier weight. The hot spot was the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (size 8-10), Y2Ks (size 12-14), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead size 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 (San Juan worm with a prince nymph suspended below it). With the caddis hatch on the wane, it is time to get ready for the sulphur hatch. This is our major mayfly hatch of the year. They are size 14 and easy to see. Before the hatch, you should concentrate on fishing pheasant tail nymphs. When the trout key on the top but no insects are present, switch over to a partridge and yellow. When you observe trout taking adult insects from the top of the water column, you should switch over to sulphur parachutes. Conventional wisdom states that hopper fishing begins in late summer. I reject this idea and fish them all year. I favor shorter leaders (seven and a half foot 3X) and a stiff six weight rod to proper deliver these weighty flies. My favorite flies are Dave’s hoppers (size 10) and the western pink lady (size size 8). To increase hook ups I always use a dropper. I am currently using a ruby or root beer midge in size 18 on a 3-foot or longer tippet (depending on the depth of the water I am fishing).

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 564.36 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(Updated 6-24-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said water temperature is in the low- to mid-80s and the lake level is up to 564. The stripers are starting to group up in 35 to 45 feet of water. As the water temp rises they will move deeper. They can be suspended anywhere over 45 to 140 feet of water. Look along deep channel swings and along the bluffs. Just get your bait or jigging spoon down to where you mark them on your depth finder. Bass are chasing bait to the surface early and just before dark. I always have a rod rigged with a topwater bait like a Zara Spook Jr. I like to throw a white or a clear one. Throw a jig or a Texas-rigged worm on the bottom in 15-25 feet of water and drag it or hop it in short hops back to the boat. Look for walleye on gravel flats in 30 to 35 feet of water. Look for the whites in coves in 25 to 40 feet of water.
(Updated 6-24-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said last week we had over 3 inches of rain and a lake rise of over 3 feet, but the stripers keep on biting. I fished all week except for Thursday and Friday and caught stripers on Robinson Point in the afternoons and at Woods Point. The stripers continue to bite on threadfin and gizzard shad, Alabama rigs, and trolled swim baits. The stripers are moving deeper. I now am catching all my fish between 35 and 45 feet deep. The hot weather has jumped the water temperature to the mid-80s. The crappie bite has begun and there is a good bass bite going on along most shorelines, too.
(Updated 6-17-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said striped bass fishing continues to be very strong. The fish are moving to different feeding grounds and are starting to go a little deeper. You can still find the stripers all over the lake. Stripers that I have cleaned are full of crawdads, which tells me you can find them laying on the bottom or close to it. There is still some topwater action for striped and hybrid bass, but this is slowly coming to an end until the fall. I have been finding stripers partway back into creeks as well as on the main lake flats and points. Trollers are doing well in deeper water getting their baits down 25-35 feet deep. I have been working 40-60 feet of water and find the stripers suspended as well as on the bottom. The bigger largemouth and smallmouth bass are in 10 to 25 feet of water. Work the bottom with a jig and pig, crawdads, grub or just about any type of plastic bait. There is still some good topwater action for bass early and late in the day. Get your topwater bait into or very close to the sunken buckbrush then work it back to the boat. There are a lot of bass in the sunken brush on the shoreline, but most are on the short side. The surface water temperature has risen to around 82 degrees. The main lake is clear and the creeks and coves are somewhat stained, but clearing. The Corps of Engineers is releasing water through the generators about 6 hours per day and the lake level is fairly stable. The lake is in great shape for fishing and all summertime water sports.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 6-22-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said there has been wadable water every day in the last week. The Norfork has fished poorly lately. The siphon is down and they are supplying the water necessary for minimum flow by running the generators on a load no load basis. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (size 18-22)  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 bead headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise, size 10). There have been reliable hatches of small midges (try a size 24 Adams parachute) and caddis (try a size 18 elk hair caddis).The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday. My favorite combination has been a grass hopper with a root beer or ruby midge dropper. There is a major construction project at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. You can still access Dry Run Creek. It has seen more pressure with school out, but it still fished well. 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). 

Buffalo River

(Updated 6-22-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off color. With the warm weather, the smallmouths are active. 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.

Crooked Creek

(Updated 6-22-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off color. With the warm weather, the smallmouths are active. 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.

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