The Cotter Trout Dock News and
Weekly Fishing Report

July 15, 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 692.35 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 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 570.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).

(Updated 7-15-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said the water level is up 5 ft. from last week. The water temperature is in the mid-80’s. Don’t think that because of the high water that the fish aren’t biting. They are.. Look for stripers on flats at least close to the bottom in 40 ft. early and as the sun starts to get higher they start heading to deeper water. They will suspend down 40-50ft. Get your bait down to where you mark them whether you are using live bait or a jigging spoon. For me the better bite has been from dawn until about 8 a.m. for the stripers. Then the bite slows down. Bass are coming up early chasing bait to the surface and will hit Zara spooks, Pop-R’s or a Redfin. As the sun get higher you have to go to a jig, worm or try a drop shot. There are some up in the brush chasing bait. There have been a few whites coming up with the bass. I have seen more surface activity in the creeks. So don’t let the high water stop you from coming to the lake for fun or fishing.

(Updated 7-15-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said last week Norfork Lake rose an additional 3 feet, but the striper target depth is staying even with the rising water. I continue to catch stripers in depths ranging from 40 to 80 feet deep. I start in depths of 40 to 45 feet of water until the sun comes up, I then keep moving out until I start marking the striper usually in the 50- to 60-foot range. In both of these ranges the stripers will be close or lying on the bottom. Once I move out to the 80 to 120 foot range, the stripers will be suspended between 40 to 55 feet. In all cases I put my shad right above the fish. Stripers will not go down to take a bait so you always want your bait equal to or above the fish. I continue to fish the lower part of the lake near the Hand Cove Resort area. Stripers are being caught near Robinson Point also. The bite continues to get better each week and should peak at the end of August. The early morning and late evening bass bite is very good right now. You need to work the shorelines to be successful. The Big Creek arm has really been producing as of late. The crappie bite is pretty good in the back of the creeks that are still flowing with fresh runoff water. For you out of area folks, you might want to get your calendars out and start making plans now. July and August will be two strong months for striper fishing.

(Updated 7-15-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said fishing continues to be good for striped bass, hybrid bass, largemouth and smallmouth bass and crappie since my last report. I am finding stripers and hybrids in 2 different types of area. The first area is part way back in major creeks with a deep channel swing. I am finding fish in 50 to 80 feet of water suspended from about 40 feet to the bottom. Live bait is working very well, but artificial baits are also working. Vertical jigging and throwing a swim bait with a heavy (up to 1/2 ounce) jig head are my artificial baits of choice. The second type of area where I am finding stripers is along deep bluff lines where the old river channel swings in close to the bluff line. The above methods of fishing will also work in this type of area. I have found fish suspended along the bluff lines from 40 to 80 feet down in 80 to 120 feet of water. If you find fish 60 to 80 feet down jigging a spoon will work the best. Crappie fishing has been abnormally good this summer. The fish are on deep 35 to 45 feet brush and are typically suspended 20 to 30 feet down. Slip floats with minnows are working the best. Night fishing for crappie has also been producing some really nice slabs. Large and smallmouth bass fishing has also been good. There has been some nice topwater action early in the morning and a Spook is working great. As the sun comes up start working the bottom from about 15 to 40 feet deep. Jig a spoon or cast Texas-rigged worm and work it back to the boat slowly. Norfork Lake water temperature is rising and currently in the mid to upper 80s. The lake level is also rising slowly and currently sits at 570.4. A short period of power generation is occurring each day, but not enough to start lowering the lake.

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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