The Cotter Trout Dock 
Weekly Fishing Report

August 19, 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 687.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).

(Updated 7-29-2015) Bull Shoals Boat Dock said summer fishing patterns are in full swing. We have been seeing air temperatures in the 90s, during the day so the water temperature is in the mid 80s. There is a thermocline around 25 feet deep. The water is still very clear, even with an extra 30 feet of water. The fishing patterns are in the classic summer mode. Topwater or shallow-running baits in the morning and late afternoon. Most of the fish seem to be shallow at these times before as the sun is low in the sky. During the day, you have to fish 25- to 30-feet deep around the thermocline and past the brush or you can fish around the large trees that are around the shoreline that have shade. The walleye fishermen are still having good success, but you have to downrig or lead core troll over 40 to 70 feet of water with your baits running 25 to 35 feet deep. The night bass fisherman are still catching fish just before dark shallow, then after dark anywhere from 5 to 30 feet deep. There haven't been any good crappie catches lately, which is typical for high water. 

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 8-11-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is running very high, with six to eight generators running all day and night. Fishing is good on Power Bait and other baits with a piece of shrimp added for a little extra. Brown trout are biting well on stick baits and jigs. One angler caught a male brown trout over 31 inches last weekend.

(Updated 8-11-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said on the White, we had 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). Hopper fishing is good. 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 570.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).

(Updated 8-19-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said finding bait has been a bit harder each day lately, with some guides getting up at 2 a.m. to net enough for a trip. Early in the morning, stripers can be found feeding on crawdads on main lake points in the 30-foot range, once it gets light they are moving off the points toward deep water. The best bite is after 8 a.m. in deep water. Stripers are right on the bottom, so trolling is not effective. To catch these fish only live shad or spoons will hook you up.

(Updated 7-29-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said the lake level is 571.9 and the water temp is in the upper 80s. The stripers are suspended 40 to 60 feet. Early in the morning, they are close to the bottom down at 40 feet. As the sun gets higher they start moving toward the deeper water. We caught a few small stripers on topwater back in Barren Creek. The bigger fish are in the deeper water within a few miles of the dam. Bass are coming up early and will hit topwater baits like a Spook or a Pop-R. After the topwater bite slows, throw a jig to the edge of the brush or a worm. When you mark fish suspended or close to the bottom, drop a jigging spoon.

(Updated 7-29-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is rising very slowly and currently sits at 571.98. The Corps is using one generator for 10 hours or two generators for 5 hours, which helps, but is not enough to negate the rise. The surface water temperature this morning was 88 degrees. The main lake is clear and the creeks and coves are somewhat stained, but clearing. The thermocline is well defined and is 25-30 feet deep. Striper fishing continues to be very good. But as in all types of fishing you will have your good days and bad days. Typical for this time of year stripers start to migrate south, but you can still find stripers and many hybrids in the mid-lake area. My success over the last week has come from creek areas. I have been fishing part way back into creeks at a hard channel swing with water depths of 60 to 90 feet. Schools of fish are roaming and feeding on shad. If there is no bait back in the creek, move on and check out another. There are large schools of whites and hybrids suspended from 25 to 40 feet down. The larger stripers that we have caught are typically deeper at 50 to 60 feet down, and some even deeper, laying on the bottom. I have been using live threadfin shad over the last several weeks. This morning we caught many fish and lost many others by break-offs and slow hook sets. Lately I have found that if you are not on the pole when it starts to go down and get the hook set immediately the fish will spit out the bait. Casting out Rooster Tails, grubs and swim baits will also catch you fish. Again you will need to know how long you need to let the bait sink to get it to the proper depth then use a slow retrieval back to the boat. There is still a good topwater bite at daybreak for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. You will also pick up some nice white bass and hybrids. The topwater action dies down around 7 a.m. or when the sun gets above the tree line. It does seem that if you're in an area with good topwater action the stripers will be below these fish feeding on the scattered shad. When the topwater stops the stripers move out and the bass move deeper.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 8-11-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said there is a substantial amount of water leaking around one of the flood gates that was being repaired. As a result, the water temperature on the Norfork has risen to near dangerous levels. There has been no observed fish kill, but the trout are stressed. Any fish caught should be carefully released. During periods of generation the temperatures are near normal.  The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18-22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 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). There have been daily hatches of sulphurs around noon. 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. 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).

Cotter Trout Dock, 321 Big Spring Pkwy POB 96, Cotter, AR  72626