Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 6, 2016

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 6, 2016.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 660.93 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 7-6-2016) K Dock Marina (417-334-2880) reported the fishing has been really good the past week The milder weather really improved the bite. The Corps also began dropping the lake level, which has improve the parking on the boat launch dramatically. Been seeing good-size walleye coming in every day. The are really eating a nightcrawler. Also had some huge limits of bass on the Tuesday night tournament. Surface temperatures were in the low 90s last week, so the crappie are deep and scattered. Some huge ones being caught on crankbaits while trolling for walleye. Also seeing some good flathead catfish being caught on trot lines on live bluegill in the 8-15 feet range in the nearby coves. Water level last week was 661.1 and falling; water temperature was 85-88 degrees. Water was stained to clear. Black Bass are good on a variety of topwater plugs. (The hot bait that is working right now is the Whopper Plopper made by River to Sea.) Also good catches on a 10-inch plum or blue worm around structure and brush piles. Weedless plastics and jigs also working very well on banks with flooded brush. Walleye are good on dragging nightcrawlers on the flats and in front of coves. Also good on medium to large crankbaits in 20-25 feet of water. Crappie are slow on live minnows. Fair when trolling small to medium crankbaits. The surface temps have made the crappie go much deeper. Look for them suspended in 15-25 feet. Catfish is good. Flatheads are biting on live baits such as bluegill on trotlines in coves, and are in the 10-18-feet range. Channel cats are good on jug lines.
(updated 7-6-2016) Bull Shoals Boat Dock reported that fishing patterns are finally changing into the basic summer patterns. The water temperature is in the 80s on the surface on the lake. There is a thermocline anywhere from the 22-30 feet level depending on who you talk with or what part of the lake you are at. There is a lot of brush in the water on the shoreline still and the largemouth bass and catfish seem to be up in it. The smallmouth bass are a little deeper on the gravel and chunk rock banks. The spotted bass are in deeper water along the bluffs, timber and points. The walleye are being reported in 15-30 feet of water by the fisherman. The good thing is that the divers are reporting seeing lots of bass, walleye and catfish. Seems like the lake is loaded with fish. Lake level is around the 662 mark and falling. Visibility is good with the divers reporting it to be 25-30 feet in most places. Here are the fishing patters that are being reported: Largemouth bass – topwater baits early and late, plastic worms in the brush, jigs in the brush, spinnerbaits after dark; smallmouth bass – jigs and plastics in 10-20 feet of water outside the brush line. Split shot a nightcrawler same depth, parallel a crankbait outside brush line early and late; spotted bass – drop shot plastic worm, jigging spoon, live nightcrawler, live crawfish in 25-35 feet of water off of steep drop-offs and points; walleye – troll deep diving crankbaits in 15-20 feet of water, bottom bounce with nightcrawler in 15-30 feet of water, lead core trolling in 25-35 feet of water with longer stick baits, jigging spoon in 25-35 feet of water; catfish – limb lining around the bank in the brush and trotlining in the coves; white bass – haven’t seen many but would think under lights at night would work; crappie – same thing, haven’t seen many, but would think night under lights would work.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 7-6-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported a slow weekend and early week of fishing due to the rain and thunderstorms in the area. The water was dingy/murky and was at a low level. The trout catch was rated fair.

(updated 7-6-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said the river was the place to be during the holiday weekend. The area received some much needed rain; the river was only a little dingy in some spots near sandy banks, but it has already worked its way downstream. They are still catching great fish with sculpins and black Zig Jigs. Berkley pink and white Mice Tails were a favorite attraction for rainbows. Longtime standbys came into play (again): the red/gold Thomas Buoyant spoon and gold Cleos. During periods of cloud cover some folks found more success with the silver or silver/blue Cleos and Buoyants. They suggest fishing early in the morning and staying away from the hottest time of day (1-5 p.m.). Keep a hand towel or a neckerchief nearby to dip in the cold river water and wrap around your neck or use as a turban to help stay cool.

(updated 7-6-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) ) said Cotter saw a half-inch of rain, hot temperatures and moderate winds in the past week. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2 feet to rest at 0.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.67 feet. This is 34.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.5 feet to rest at 1.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 1.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 10.3 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had more generation last week with no wade-able water. Berry wanted to revisit his top six flies he’s using for this year:
New flies come and go, and old standards are revisited. Though Berry says he carries hundreds of patterns, these six flies account for about 90 percent of the fish that he or his clients land. The only fly that has made every list of his top six flies is the Woolly Bugger. Berry recalls the first time he fished it over 35 years ago. He was fishing the Little Red River with his brother, Dan. He gave John a couple of them, and John asked how to fish them. Dan told him that it didn’t matter as long as it was in the water. John said that turned out to be true and he has been fishing them since He says he’s caught more different species with a Woolly Bugger than any other fly. Don’t leave home without it.
On his most recent list of best flies, he had included the copper John, but he has changed over to the pheasant tail nymph. This fly has been around since 1930. There is a reason for any fly to be around that long. The pheasant tail is easy to tie and catches fish. He has found it to be a great nymph imitation for the river’s sulphur mayflies that are coming off now. He always ties them in a copper bead head version. It sinks like a rock and the copper bead will show off well in stained water.
The ruby midge is new to Berry’s list and in fact has been his best producer for the last two years. It has replaced the zebra midge as his go-to midge pupa pattern. Since the White and Norfork rivers are major midge waters; it is Berry’s most important fly. Most of the guides he knows fish them on a daily basis. It is the best-selling fly at Berry’s Blue Ribbon Fly Shop.
Berry generally fishes two fly rigs, and the San Juan Worm is his top fly, the one he fishes every day. He believes it acts as an attractor and gets the trout’s attention. Though he usually catches more fish on the bottom fly, he will catch quite a few on the worm. After a rain, it is his go-to fly because worms are washed into the river during a rain. It is also the easiest fly to tie.
The newest member of this year’s list is the hare and copper. It is a pattern that has been around for a while. It is a simple fly with a body of hare’s mask, a copper bead and copper rib tied on a scud hook. It is impressionistic and kind of looks like a scud, caddis or sowbug, but not exactly. It has been producing well, and Berry had a young man take two spectacular cutthroats last week on Dry Run Creek using it.
His sixth selection is the Green Butt. He says he didn’t choose it just because it is his signature pattern, but because it works. This is the fly he ties at Sowbug and the Fly Fishing Fair every year. It is an easy tie and looks elegant. It is a soft hackle and it is the first thing that he ties on whenever he sees some topwater action. He developed it about 15 years ago and has fished it ever since. It has become a popular local pattern that sells well in the shop. Armed with these six flies he says he can catch fish just about anywhere and hopes anglers will give them a try.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.40 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).
(updated 7-6-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the lake has slowed down. The constant storms and boat traffic slowed down the bite down. Although they are still catching stripers, he’s not having the bites and catches he had the week before. One thing that changed is the depth of the stripers before light. Reynolds was catching them at 35-45 feet of water; now they are being caught as shallow as 30 feet. Once it becomes daylight they continue to move out to 100-130 feet of water. After 8 a.m. the fishing turns off using live bait. The lake continues to be lowered until it reaches a pool of 553 feet msl, which should happen in the next week unless the rains continue. Look for stripers off sloping points before light, and then continue to look for them as you move off the point into the channel. If you can find a point that slopes with the channel butting it, then you have the perfect combination to catch stripers early than after light. Being a live bait guide generates moving problems than the artificial bait guides. Finding the right-size bait and keeping them alive is unique. Shad requires salt, which causes problems in your boat. Everything is working great, then a wire corrodes and you wind up with dead bait. Another problem is you can only house so many baits at a time. Tom says he averages 33-37 baits per trip. If you get into a heavy bite. You can go through a lot of bait very quickly since anglers tend to miss more then they catch. With that all said, some days things just never click with a client. Tom said he had that happen last week. They could not catch a striper, they had nine strikes with no fish in the boat, and Tom said his anxiety level was so high that the clients were not happy. As a guide he says his one job is trying and make sure you catch fish and have a good time, and this past week was not his best week, he said. Tom’s friend Jim Crowley from Hook and Hunt TV came down for the Fourth of July. Jim writes for Midwest Outdoors and wanted to write an article on Norfork striper fishing. Jim and Tom have filmed a number of fishing and hunting shows with great success. After Tom’s current week he was worried about the fishing, but Sunday morning turned out better than he expected. They were fishing at 4:45 a.m. and went 30 minutes without a strike, then four rods went down in the dark. It was a total madhouse but they managed to boat three. They moved to another spot and caught two more and had enough fish on the line to catch two limits. Jim had a good trip with enough information and pictures to publish an article in August. Be sure to read Reynolds’ Summer Striper tactics at the website.
(updated 6-29-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the lake level is falling slowly and currently sits at 555.93. The Corps is running one generator continuously. The lake surface water temperature is in the mid to upper 80s. The main lake is clearing and the creeks and coves are slightly stained. Striped bass fishing is continuing to be a strong bite. Fish are still scattered throughout the lake and are mainly concentrated in 25-40 feet of water either on the bottom or suspended in deep water. For the last couple of weeks, he has been fishing with his daughter and her family and they had a blast. All including the little ones were catching fish. After keeping several limits of stripers the first couple of days, they started releasing all fish caught. Lou’s 4-year-old granddaughter had fun catching bluegills at the dock and she is getting really good with her Tinkerbell pole. Live thread fin shad has been working great for his group, but vertical jigging with a spoon and trolling with swimbaits also produce some nice fish. Largemouth bass fishing has slowed a little but is still good. There is some topwater action early in the mornings, but the bigger ones are going deeper. He has found bass partway back in creeks at channel swings near points. They are in shallow water early, then move out to 20-30 feet of water as the sun gets high in the sky. There are plenty of bass hanging out in the shadows of the docks during the day.
Crappie fishing is also in its hot-water mode: hard to find, but once you locate them you will catch some nice fish in the 10-14-inch range. A couple of his guests have been crappie fishing and did well both Monday and Tuesday. Start looking for brush piles back in creeks and coves. The brush should be in 20-35 feet of water and the fish will be suspended on the tops of the brush, but some of the nicer ones will be deeper. There are still plenty of nice crappie in the shadows of the docks during the day. There are some nice walleye being caught. Look for walleye in 25-35 feet of water. They will be around main lake points that have brush nearby or at this same depth along the rocky bluff walls. Jigging spoons as well as a crawler harness are working.
(updated 6-22-2016) Guide Steve Olomon said the lake level is 557.1 feet msl and the water temperature is in the mid-80s. Look for stripers down 35-60 feet deep. They can be close to the bottom in 35 feet depth or they can be suspended in 100 feet. Check the deep side of points and close to the creek channels in the creeks. They had a few small stripers in the 2-4-pound range and some hybrids about 4-6 pounds coming up hitting Zara Spooks in a creek while they were sitting in 55 feet. There were a few whites, large mouth and some smallies mixed in. Steve and his group hit another spot and got into a few spotted bass. They were not coming up chasing, they just came up and hit the spooks in Big Creek. The group caught a few stripers and a couple hybrids on jigging spoons suspended at 30 feet in about 55 feet of water. F or more information on the area and lake visit

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 7-6-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake fell 0.6 feet to rest at 0.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 556.42 feet and 24 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had no wade-able water. In an effort to get the lake level down on Norfork the Corps of Engineers has opened a sluice gate during daylight hours. The increased flow is equal to about one full generator. The Norfork has fished better lately. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 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 eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise #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 fly has been the Green Butt. Dry Run Creek will be very busy, with summer vacation, in full swing. It is cleared and 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 National River

(updated 7-6-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) saidthat with the weather warming, smallmouths are more active. My favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering the river. There are no dams and the river is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Crooked Creek

(updated 7-6-2016) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the river is navigable. Try his favorite lure for smallmouths, the Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering. There are no dams, there are large drainages and the creek prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.