Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 13, 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 13, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 660.97 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 7-13-2016) K Dock Marina (417-334-2880) reported lake conditions have pretty much remained the same the past few weeks. Despite all the rain and pop up thunderstorms, the water looks great! Good color with little to no debris. Fishing has slowed down for many anglers due to the extreme heat and humidity. But, still seeing a lot of big bass and walleye being caught. The boat launch has more parking available, but the lower road is still under water at the current level. Courtesy dock remains under water as well. Water level on Tuesday was 661.00 feet msl. Water temperature was 85-88 degrees and water is stained. Black Bass are good off of points and steep bluffs with a jig, Texas rigged worm and large plastics. Also good on topwater plugs early. Deep-diving crankbaits are also working for some. Walleye are good to fair on medium to large crankbaits trolling in 20-30 feet. Running baits around 12-18 feet range. Also good on dragging nightcrawlers. Also hitting white or silver half-ounce spoons off the points. Crappie fishing is slow on live minnows, due to the heat. Catching some in the 20-foot range around trees. Fair when trolling. Suspended in deeper water.
(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 7-13-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported the water dropping from high to low and being just OK. There has been no water in the morning and high in the evening because of generation. The water is stained. Brown trout fishing is good. Some nice sized browns were caught in the 17-22-inche range. Rainbow trout fishing was rated great.
(updated 7-13-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said they’ve had a couple of heavy rain storms this week. When that happens and the water gets dingy, it's time to go to worms. Everybody took worms to the river this past week, including the guides, and the trout were biting. Remember, too, if you’re not having any luck, try something different right away; change up the color you’re using, or even just reverse the order. If you're not having much success with your yellow Rooster Tail with black dots, try the black with yellow dots), if the gold Cleo isn't producing, tie on a silver/blue Thomas Buoyant. Most of all, relax and enjoy your time on the river.  
(updated 7-13-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) ) said about an inch of rain fell on Cotter in the past week, to go with hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.4 feet to rest at 0.1 feet of a foot below seasonal power pool of 661.95 feet. This is 33.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1.6 feet to rest at 0.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 to rest at 1.8 feet below seasonal power pool and 10.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had less generation this week with more wade-able water and the bite has been erratic. Berry also offered more on fly-fishing flies for this week: “Last week I wrote about my top six flies. When I got to Blue Ribbon Fly Shop the next day, I discussed the article with Henry Seay, my assistant manager. He is an accomplished fly fisher and in fly tying but he uses different flies with great success. I decided to write about his top six and see where we agreed and where we were different. When he moved here from Arizona 11 years ago, one of the first items on my things he did was to find a hatch chart for the Norfork and Bull Shoals tailwaters. Two things stood out: midges and sowbugs/scuds hatched 52 weeks of the year. In moving water, sowbugs and scuds look so much alike he didn’t think fish could tell the difference to see them as one type of fly, hence sowbug/scud. Other hatches come and go but midges and sowbugs/scuds are always present. It seems to make no difference to him, if you are fishing Lee's Ferry, the San Juan River, the Norfork or any other tailwater anywhere in the USA, midges will be the most important hatch. His list would have to start with the Zebra midge size 16-22, a simple and highly effective fly that no angler should be without. This fly has also caught largemouth bass and bream on Norfork Lake. His second fly would also be a midge, the pheasant tail midge sizes 16-20. This fly is often tied with a hot spot at the thorax to catch the eye of a passing trout. This fly can also pass as a midge larva, pupae or a small stonefly. He finds there is inherent magic, with pheasant tail fibers, hares ear, CDC, copper wire and peacock hurl. When any two of these items are used together they become as irresistible as chocolate candy. All his flies will have one or more of these items tied into them. He would never consider venturing into the waters to fish for trout without hare and copper size 10-18. This is a fly that has also taken fish everywhere in the world. A fly that suggest a stonefly, a scud and a crane fly, it is fuzzy, spiky and looks like many aquatic life forms. Next is the sowbug/scud size 10-16, the other trout food that hatches 12 months of the year. A fly that can pass for a stonefly, and has proven very productive crawled slowly across the bottom of a stream as well as dead drifting. The "F" fly size 14-22 is the only dry fly that he carries. This is a European fly that has had a hand in bringing home trophies from more than one country in international competition. It is the only fly a friend of his from Mississippi uses when he comes here and fishes the Norfork tailwater. He takes a backseat to no one on the river. He would never step into the river or any body of water without a Woolly Bugger size 6-14. This fly has caught fish coast to coast, cold water, warm water or salt water. A size 12 or 14 will destroy a bream bed. When nothing else works, he ties on a Woolly Bugger. With these six flies he could fish every tailwater in America and believe that he was armed properly. We agreed on the Woolly Bugger and hare and copper. He ties all of these flies at the shop and will be glad to show them to you.”

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).
(updated 7-13-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said that in the last few days Norfork Lake picked up speed. He had fished all week with little results, but then last Thursday the stripers decided to feed like they should during the summer. There are two things to know about summer stripers: One, as the water warms stripers feed heavy as they burn lots of energy during the summer. The second is, stripers need 6 parts per million of oxygen in the water to be aggressive. Again as the lake warms the oxygen becomes lower so the stripers continue to go deeper to find a level of water that will support them. As the summer progresses expect to find stripers anywhere from 60-100 feet deep. Once you find them they will usually bite. As they were last week the stripers before light are feeding in 35-45 feet of water. Once it becomes daylight they continue to move out to 100-130 feet of water. Continue to look for schooling stripers on sloping banks later in the morning. The lake continues to be lowered until it reaches a pool of 553 or so, which should happen in the next week. If you can find a point that slopes with the channel butting it, then you have the perfect combination to catch stripers early, then after light. A local couple, Tess and her boyfriend, Tyler, booked a trip for her father, Jim, for a Father’s Day gift. Tom met them at Tracy Marina at 4:30 a.m. and headed out for a fun morning. The first thing Jim asked was “how’s fishing” and Tom said it’s been spotty so you never know, when you are striper fishing, whether today is the day that would turn around. The group started where Reynolds had been catching a few. One thing you learn guiding is you never leave fish to find fish; you fish your spot until those fish leave or just will not bite. Tom set them up and before long he hooked a fat hybrid for Tyler and the bite was on. The next hour and 45 minutes they caught and missed stripers. All told they boated only six at that spot. Before light you will be holding the pole so it’s a feel more than watching your pole. It takes time to learn when to let the fish take the bait before you set the hook. For some people it requires a few strikes to master that. The group then moved to another spot needing three stripers to fill their limit. Tom spotted a few stripers and set up and before he could get the fourth rod out they had two fish on and it was a total circus. They boated two more before the school was gone but he said it was sure was fun seeing all those fish and his clients running around the boat hooking fish. Be sure to read Reynolds’ Summer Striper tactics; the article can be found on 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 7-13-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the lake fell 2 feet to rest at 1.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 556.55 feet and 26 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we 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 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise No. 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 No. 10). While you are at the creek you should visit the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

Buffalo National River

(updated 7-13-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that with the weather warming, smallmouths are more active. John Berry's 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 7-13-2016) 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..