The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

July 8, 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 686.49 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(Updated 7-8-2015) Ken Minsky of Ken Minksy's Loch Leven Guide Service had no report.
(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 7-8-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is high, with 6 to 10 units running. Trout fishing had been good, but fishing the high flow can be difficult. Use heavy weight to stay near the bottom and look for areas sheltered from the current. Use extreme caution navigating, as the current can be very dangerous.
(Updated 7-1-2015) Paul Bobby at GI on the Fly Guide Service (907-350-6610) said big water flowing on the White River has spread the fish from bank to bank. Trout are plentiful and aggressively feeding. Fly-fishing, spin-fishing and bait fishing all are working well. I’ve moved my operation to the area from Rim Shoals to Buffalo City to avoid all the extra anglers. This week this section of river has been awesome.  Fly-fishing with a midge (sizes 12-16) under an indicator with San Juan droppers or assorted sow bug patterns 6 to 10 feet down has been a lethal combination from morning to noon. Experienced fly-fishermen have the opportunity to landing 30 to 40 fish each in a four-hour trip. If you’re out after lunch, hopper/dropper presentations tight to shore around rocks and weedy areas and even dead middle of the river will get the attention of big brown trout and rainbows. Bait fishermen below Rim Shoals Catch-and-Release area to Buffalo City are having great success.  Green floating trout worms or redworms on size 8 Aberdeen hooks with a 1/8-ounce bell sinker will flat wear them out right now. If you’re out exploring and fishing this area, watch out for debris, root balls, trees and boulders. Dropping water will damage your prop or worse if you’re not paying attention.
(Updated 7-8-2015) 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 565.87 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(Updated 7-8-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said the water temperature is in the mid-80s and the fish are biting. Look for stripers close to the bottom in 40 feet of water and suspended at least 40 feet deep in deeper water (as deep as 140 feet). Bass are coming up early, hitting topwater baits. Watch for them on points and in coves. After the topwater bite slows, throw a jig or a worm in 15-35 feet of water and work it slowly. Keep a topwater bait ready, because spotted bass will come up anytime. Look for walleye on gravel banks close to the bottom in 25 to 35 feet of water. Try dropping a jigging spoon. Whites are down around 30 to 35 feet deep and some hybrids are running with them. Look in the creeks and coves.
(Updated 7-8-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said continual rains have added another 2 feet to Norfork Lake, but the striper target depth is staying even with the rising water. I continue to catch stripers in depths ranging from 40 to 140 feet. This week I saw the largest school of stripers of the year. They were 50 feet deep over 80 feet of water and did not hit my baits until I put a new fresh bait on which was hit right away. If your not catching fish you are marking, try a fresh bait or different colors and sizes of spoons. The stripers are feeding on gizzard shad and the bite should continue to improve the next two months. Stripers are on the move, so keep looking on flats next to points and underwater bluff lines with a flat on one side with the river channel butting the flat. The stripers are feeding on crawdads on the flats early and are moving into deeper water as the sun comes up.
(Updated 7-8-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing continues to be good in the early summer. The lake is clear and warm and great for all water sports. Early morning and later in the afternoon are great times to fish  because not many boats are out and you can fish almost anywhere you want. Striped bass fishing has been good. The fish are starting to go deeper as the lake develops its summer thermocline. I have noticed the thermocline 22 to 30 feet deep. I have had my grandkids out fishing most days over the last week and they are having a blast. Thread fin shad has been my go-to bait, and I have been finding the fish back in major creeks in 50 to 80 feet of water suspended 20 to 50 feet down. Vertical jigging with a spoon as well as casting a swim bait are both working as well. Place a ½-ounce jig head on the swim bait and let it sink, then reel back to the boat slow and hang on. I am also starting to find larger schools of stripers out on main lake points along the deep water bluff lines. Live bait and jigging with a spoon are two great methods to catch these fish once you find the school. We’re still finding a few hybrids coming up at daybreak chasing shad, so have a topwater bait handy to have some fun. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing has also been good. I have been finding some good topwater action at daybreak, but it typically only lasts up to an hour at the most. Topwater baits, swim baits and swimming minnows are all working well early in the morning. As the sun comes up, start working the bottom with a jig, Texas-rigged worm or craw, or just about any type of bait worked along the bottom. The best depths to fish are 10 to 30 feet down. You will also notice some suspended fish in deeper water following shad, drop a spoon to their depth and start jigging. Spinner baits and jigs are working after dark up along the banks. You can still catch a few nice sized crappie, but they are deep. Find brush in 30 to 40 feet and the crappie will be on the tops and also buried inside of the brush. Live minnows seem to be working the best, but small crappie jigs and small crank baits are also working.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 7-8-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said there has been wadable water every day in the last week. The Norfork has fished better 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. There have been several reliable sightings of the sulphur hatch. I was lucky enough to catch it on the Norfork one day before the water came up. 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. 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 grasshopper 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 7-1-2015) 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 7-1-2015) 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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