Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 27, 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 27, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 660.39 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 7-27-2016) Bull Shoals Boat Dock reportedthe summer fishing patterns are here. The surface temperature is in the mid-80s and up. The thermocline is around the 25-28 foot level. The lake is at the 660 feet level and  dropping slowly. Visibility is great according to the divers and is around 20-30 feet in most places. Bass are being caught on a variety of baits and in a variety of places. The largemouth are mostly shallow in the weeds, brush and shallow ledges. The smallmouth are a little deeper on the gravel and the spots are on brush, timber and rock piles around the thermocline. The walleye  have moved deep and are in the 25-35 feet range. Catfish are shallow at night up in the weeds and brush around the bank. The limb liners and trotlines are doing well. The bow fishermen are seeing them a lot at night. Daytime they are deeper in the brush and timber patches out of the sun. Here are some patterns to try: For largemouth bass, use topwater baits early and late, plastic worms in the brush, jigs in the brush and use spinnerbaits after dark; for smallmouths, jigs and plastics in 10-2 feet of water outside the brush line, split shot  a nightcrawler the same depth, parallel a crankbait outside brush line early and late. For spotted bass, drop shot a plastic worm, jigging spoon, live nightcrawler, live crawfish in 25-35 feet of water off of step drop-offs and points; for walleye, troll deep diving crankbaits in 15-20 feet of water, bottom bounce with nightcrawlers in 15-30 feet of water, lead core trolling in 25-35 feet of water with longer stick baits, and try a jigging spoon in 25-35 feet of water. For catfish, limb line around the bank in the brush and use trotlines in the coves. We haven’t seen many white bass but we’d think under lights at night would work. As for crappie, haven’t seen many but also think that night under lights would work.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 7-27-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported the water was clear by midweek this week, but had been a mossy greenish hue during the early part of last week. The level is normal, and the trout bite has been excellent, both rainbows and browns. Jigs, stick baits and lures are all working.
(updated 7-27-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said most White River anglers believe, during periods of ongoing generation from Bull Shoals Dam, that the best fishing is "on the rise" (although a very respectable few guides feel they do better during falling water.) With daily afternoon releases, the trout have become accustomed to late afternoon meals (at least in the Cotter vicinity, later in the day as you move downriver) and may be more selective earlier in the day, so Gamble suggests having a variety of baits, lures and flies available if you're on the river before the rise. Don't be afraid to try something you've never used before. If it doesn't work, switch your baits. Worms are the first bait to use when the water first comes up. Gamble said they are still having terrific success with sculpins all day long, and with the cloud cover one afternoon this week, they returned to silver and blue spoons.
(updated 7-27-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that during the past week they have had no rain in Cotter, but had brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 feet to rest at 0.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is 34.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 feet to rest at 1 foot below seasonal power pool and 15 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at .03 feet below seasonal power pool and 10.9 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had less generation this week with more wade-able water. On the White, the bite has been excellent. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, #12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 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 (Berry’s current favorite is a red San Juan worm with a ruby midge size 18 suspended below it).

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.71 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).
(updated 7-27-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said stripers continue their summer feeding pattern. Both live bait and trolling seems to work the best right now. The trollers are mostly trolling between point 2 and the dam, staying on the edge of the channel. One person said he had caught 13 one day. The Arkansas Fish and Game Commission has requested that anybody who catches a legal striper should not be releasing them back into the lake. The warm water causes tremendous stress on the fish. They will look fine when released but later in the day they die, according to fish studies of stripers released in hot water. Catch your limit then switch to another species or call it a day and head for the beach. The stripers are still feeding in 35-50 feet of water before light, they then move off the points and suspend in or near the old river channel. Look for them off Thumb, Georges Cove, Koso and the dam area. The lake is being maintained at the 553 level until the dam gate work is completed. We should continue to see excellent striper fishing well into the fall. This past week the bigger stripers have started biting. Multiple days Tom says he has caught fish in the high teens up to the mid-20s. Now is the time to get out on the lake and catch your trophy. A young couple from Michigan called and wanted to try their luck at catching some stripers. Caleb and Danielle never fished for stripers so as with most of Tom’s clients the trip was going to be an adventure. Caleb hooked a striper before light and they were on their way to catching a limit early. Sometimes what you think will happen never seems to work out that way. For some reason after Caleb caught the first striper he could not keep a striper on the line. He had four stripers hooked and lost every one of them. It was getting frustrating for everybody, but failure sometimes turns out to be a success. Danielle caught a striper, then another, so we had three in the boat and should have been heading back to the marina if Caleb would have caught his. Tom moved out to the channel and it was now near 7 a.m. and getting hot. Then magic happened. The rod went down and Tom gave it to Caleb and he fought it for a good 10 minutes and finally he landed the striper which weighed 23 pounds. The next minute the float went down and Danielle started fighting that and she landed a 21-pound striper. The bite slowed so Tom moved to another spot and they caught number six quickly and were back at the marina by 8 a.m. The moral is, never give up just because you are having a bad day. You never know how it will turn out, Caleb's failure to land those early stripers led him and Danielle to catch a fish of a lifetime.
(updated 7-27-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing continues in its hot summer fishing pattern. Most fish are deep and will continue to go deeper as the thermocline drops. To be quite honest, he says, not much has changed since the report last week. Gabric says he is catching stripers before sunrise in 35-45 feet of water on long points and large flats. As the sun comes up they move off the side of the point into deeper water 70-plus feet, but are still 30-45 feet down. Live bait, vertical jigging with a spoon and trolling swimbaits are all working. Over the past week Gabric said he has been fishing with his family and they have been having a lot of fun. Some big fish are biting. His 9-year-old granddaughter landed a 20-plus pound striper and his 12-year-old granddaughter has caught several fish. Her biggest so far has been a 14-pound striper. He said it’s a blast to watch these kids fight a striper on their own from start to finish and they’re making some good memories. The biggest change this week over last is for the largemouth and spotted bass.Lou, as well as a couple of his guests, have found some good topwater fishing in the morning at sunrise and also at sunset. The other day he was fishing with his granddaughter and they were sitting in 70 feet of water off of a point where she was catching stripers. In the times between netting her fish, Lou said he was casting a Kastmaster into 25 feet of water. Almost every cast after the bait hit the water a bass hammered it. Some were keeper size, most were small, but still a lot of fun. The other location where his guests have gotten into topwater fish is back in the major creeks in shallow water. Fish are chasing shad early, but even after you don't see them they are still coming up for a topwater lure. Wiggle Warts are also working very well most days. Crappie fishing is in its normal hot water slow time, but there are some good crappie being caught. They are still under docks and you can also find them scattered along the deep water bluffs. Locate a ledge 20-30 feet down and they will be suspended along the ledge. Small swimbaits as well as live minnows have caught some nice fish. Norfork Lake water level is holding stable with minimal power generation and currently sits at 552.73. The surface water temperature is ranging from 87-92 degrees depending on the time of day. The main lake is clear and some creeks and coves are stained with others clearing. The lake is in great shape for all your summertime fun activities, not only fishing.
(updated 7-20-2016) Guide Steve Olomon said the lake level is 552.8 and the water temperature is in the mid- to upper 80s. Stripers are suspended around 35 feet deep early in the morning. As the sun gets higher, they may move as deep as 60 feet down in 100-foot and deeper areas. Look along channel swings on bluff ends and in the deeper coves and on some of the deep flats. Black bass are hitting topwater lures early. Once the morning bite has died, switch to a jig, Texas-rigged worm or drop-shot rig with a small minnow-style lure or 4-inch finesse worm in 15 feet of water. The bass will move as deep as 30 feet during the hottest part of the day. Look for some white bass hanging in coves. Key in on the ditches that run through the coves close to any flats.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 7-27-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 3.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet and 27.3 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had reliable, wade-able water every morning when it was a bit cooler. The Norfork has fished better on the lower water this week. 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 Nutt. 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. My favorite fly has been the Green Butt.
Dry Run Creek has fished well. Berry said he has been guiding on Dry Run Creek for over 25  years, starting when my daughter was 12, and she is now 39. Over the years, Berry said, he made a number of observations. One thing he noted is that 90 percent, of the fish caught are landed by 10 percent of the anglers. There are a lot of big fish there, but proximity does not always guarantee success.  It should be noted that this is a Catch and Release stream set aside for children under 16 years of age and mobility impaired adults. Every time Berry goes there he sees some dad fishing the stream while his child is chasing a butterfly nearby. This is not why the creek was developed. Dry Run Creek is for children. That means they must cast, set the hook and fight the fish. You can rig their rod and net fish, but that is all. Mobility impaired adults must have a mobility impaired permit from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission in order to fish there. Bait, of any kind, is strictly prohibited. Berry said he saw someone fishing there with corn on Monday. Berry explained to him that what he was doing was illegal and he quit. You must use a fly or artificial lure with a single barbless hook point. This method does little harm to the trout.
|Berry’s first recommendation is that you hire a guide. He admits this may sound a bit self-serving as both Berry and his wife, Lori, are guides who frequently work on Dry Run Creek. The fact is a guide can furnish all the gear that you need, is aware of the rules and can make it easier for you or your child to catch fish. They know what flies to use and where to concentrate your efforts. They can even furnish lunch and take pictures of trophy trout. Have your kids wear waders. There are plenty of places where you can fish from the bank, but a pair of waders can put you in some spots that hold plenty of trout but get less pressure than the spots that are easier to fish. A set of waders for yourself will help you get out from the bank, to net the big brown, that doesn’t want to come in. Move around from time to time. Berry said he notices that a lot of anglers congregate on the boardwalk. This area was designed for mobility impaired anglers. The big flat spaces are wheelchair platforms. It is difficult to land fish here. You must get into the water to net fish here unless you have a net with a very long handle (8 feet or more). Mobility impaired anglers are limited to fishing from the boardwalk. Carry the biggest net that you can lay your hands on. A long handle helps a lot. Berry said he has seen many big fish lost at the net. You can buy an inexpensive large net. Don’t try to net the fish too soon. Wait until it is at the top of the water column. The worst thing that you can do is to bump your kid’s trophy trout off. Also, use big tippet. Berry uses 4X fluorocarbon. If they hook a big one, you want them to have a chance to land it. Have them take their time when landing the fish. A big one will take several runs. If the child is gripping the line or the reel handle, the fish will break the line. This will happen unless the trout can pull line out. Adjust the reel drag to put as much pressure on the fish as possible, without breaking the tippet. Concentrate your efforts on faster deeper water. Berry keeps his fly selection to a minimum, using San Juan worms (worm brown, cerise and red) eggs (peach or orange) and sowbugs. His top producer for the last few weeks has been the worm brown San Juan worm. If your kid loses interest, it is time to move on. This is supposed to be fun.

Buffalo National River

(updated 7-27-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that 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 7-27-2016) 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.