Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 31, 2016

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report August 31, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.60 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 8-31-2016) K Dock Marina reported that lake conditions have really changed in the last recently. Rain and cool nights have dropped the surface temps down about 10 degrees from last two Saturdays ago. Water is also stained, making it great for bass fishing. The walleye and crappie bite should get better now that we are reading water temps in the low 80s instead of the middle 90s. Been seeing a lot of large catfish being caught on a variety of methods. Both channel and flathead cats are starting to feed. Most recent water surface temperature was 82 degrees. Black bass are good topwater, including Zara Spooks, Ploppers and buzzbaits. Also good on large plastic worms and jigs in 18-25 feet off of points and steep bluffs. Also good on large crankbaits in the same range. Walleye are fair to slow on bottom-bouncing nightcrawlers in 30-plus feet of water. Crappie are slow on live minnows in brush piles. They are suspended in 20 feet. (Crappie should start to come up better with the surface temp cooling down.)
(updated 8-31-2016) Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported water temp has come down quite bit. Cold nights have come through, some big changes on the lake. The 92-, 94 is down to 84 for the high. Over the apex. Rain coming in, water coming in back of creeks, big fish are beginning to move around a little bit. Guys are catch8ing walleye trolling right now, using deeper crankbaits. They’re trolling the flats up around Oakland, some of the main lake points. Those walleye are suspended about 25-30 feet and the baits in that general area too. We;’ve got a thermos, about 30 foot. You don’t have to fish deeper than 30 feet to get some action, For bass, the ledges are still holding a lot of fish. The Whopper Plopper is working. Fish the conditions. If you have wind and cloudy conditions, start fishing the PowerBaits. You can flip a jig up around the ledge rock. The fish are starting to come up into the bushe, try a Right Bite ½-ounce jig there. There is a ton of shad back in the creeks. There aren’t a lot of bass there yet, but it’s just a matter of time before the bass move back in there. If it’s sunny and calm, a drop-shot will work well. Pulled a lot of fish on the drop-shot the other day. Robo worm with a 12-14-inch leader so they’re being caught off the bottom. Most of the presentation is vertical over the trees, channel swings. A lot of times you’ll three or four fish from the same school. Topwater has been on and off. If it’s sunny out and not a lot of wind, they’re hitting the Lucky Craft Sammie and the old Biffle Bug, and the Green Pumpkin Red and Green Pumpkin Orange. Lot of fish are suspended at about 20 feet and jerkbaits are working. Early in the morning they will be a little bit shallower. Fish the conditions.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 8-31-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said that, by now, school's back in session most everywhere; they always experience a lull (the August doldrums) just before school starts. Now it’s time to get back to business as usual. That applies to the baits that are producing good catches, too. Nice batches of rainbows are being rewarded to anglers using standard PowerBait – shrimp-corn combos; switch them up, change colors when the bite slows and wait for the trout. A favorite spoon this past week was the bronze Colorado, smallest size available because the water level is low until late afternoon. Looks like a pattern has been established regarding releases from the dam: low all morning and dropping until SWPower begins generation early in the afternoon. By 5 in Cotter, they begin to see the rise, and some days it can be 4-5 feet of additional water.
(updated 8-24-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported the river level low. As many as six generators are running on the weekends, and the water generally is low early in the mornings and higher in the evenings. A few big browns were caught but they’ve slowed down with the warmer weather of late. Most success has been on Rapalas and rouges. Rainbows are biting PowerBait, red and gold spoons and Little Cleos. There just hasn’t been much fly fishing of late.
(updated 8-31-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that in the past week they have had a couple of rain events (a combined total of half an inch here in Cotter), moderate temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.4 feet to rest at 0.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is 33.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell a foot to rest at 4.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 4.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 13.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had heavy generation in the afternoon last week with wadable water every morning. On the White, the bite has been excellent. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals, with reliable wading water. 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 (my current favorite is a hare and copper nymph (size 14) with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). The best bet for large trout has been to bang the bank with large articulated streamers delivered with heavy 24-30-foot sink tips (350 grains or heavier) on bigger water. You will need an 8- or 9-weight rod. This is heavy work but the rewards can be great.
A couple of weeks ago, Berry got a call from Randy in Memphis. He had been referred to Berry by Barry Smith and Susan Hillebrand, John’s old friends and regular guide clients. The success of Berry’s guide service relies on repeat business and referrals. Randy wanted John to do a three-person guide trip for him, his father and his son. Three-person guide trips are not popular with fly fishing guides. In fact, there are just a few fly fishing guides that will even accept the business. The main problem is that three people in a 20-foot river boat casting 9-foot or longer fly rods are an invitation to disaster. For the guides who use oars, there is just not enough room to accommodate another client. Even on a wade trip it is difficult to keep all of your clients close together in spots that will be productive. The guide ends up trooping the line, in order to keep everyone on fish. The more clients you have the less individual attention each one will receive. At the same time, there are some really good reasons why a three-person guide trip is a good idea. One is that is less expensive for the clients to hire one guide rather than two. The guides that do take three clients require an up charge for the extra client (three clients lose more flies, need more tippet and eat more lunch than two) but it is still way less than two guide fees. In addition, sometimes the three clients just want to be together. It could be the celebration of a milestone in life or just an opportunity to bond through a shared experience. Randy was looking for a bonding experience with his 81-year-old father, Grand Dad, and his son, Ethan. Grand Dad was a bit past a wade trip and we settled on a boat trip. Randy said that he and Ethan were relative newcomers to the sport but that Grand Dad was an avid fly fisher years ago. They agreed that trying to fish all three at one time might be counterproductive and decided that two would fish at a time with one angler sitting it out. When one would catch a few nice trout he would trade places with the angler sitting it out so that everyone got in on the action.
They began the trip with a casting lesson and they all agreed that it helped. It was a bit overcast and the temperature was in the 70s, when they began. The river was on the bottom and 1-2 inches of rain was in the forecast. There was a light wind out of the south east at about 5-10 mph. We began catching fish on the first drift. The hot fly was a ruby midge with a hare and copper not far behind. At the end of the first drift, Grand Dad was cranking in his line but was turning the crank in the wrong direction. It took me a minute before I realized that the last time he fly fished he was using an old automatic reel that operated with a spring and did not have a crank. It did not hold him back. He finished the day with the most trout. After we had been out a few minutes, it began to rain but quit almost as soon as we got our rain jackets on. Randy managed to land the large trout, a fine, stout, vividly colored, 18-inch rainbow. Ethan had landed the first couple of fish. The group as a whole landed quite a few trout with success spread fairly evenly. On this occasion, three generations of a family had a stellar time fishing three in a boat.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.30 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).
(updated 8-31-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake stripers continue to feeding heavily in the early morning and late afternoon. They are feeding in the 32-38-foot range. Most of the fish are right on the bottom off the main points and humps. After sunup they are moving out to the 40-foot range, roaming and chasing shad. When you hit a school every rod will get hit. Tom said he and his fishing party had five rods out and more than once all were hit at the same time. It was total madness. The fish can be found near the dam. Start looking in Shoal Creek for whites and hybrids, then look at all the points within a mile of the dam; you will find them feeding before light. Walleyes are being caught on points and flats using bottom bouncers and spoons in 28-35 feet of water. The best live bait this past week for stripers has been gizzard shad.
A client of Tom’s who has fish with him for over 10 years booked a 3-boat 2-day trip for his clients this past Saturday and Sunday. Doug Schultz's group had nine people, three in each boat. The weather was great; the rain that was predicted never happened, so everything was perfect for two great days of fishing. With all new clients there is a learning curve trying to catch a striper before light. The first day they landed 23 stripers with four over 20 pounds, the biggest being 24 pounds. The second day they boated 27 stripers. Everybody figured out how to hook the fish and they were done by 6:35 on Sunday. All told the group boated 50 stripers in two days. This time of year they practice catch-and-keep because the stripers are under heavy stress from the warm water. A lot of people release a striper and see it swim away believing the fish will be OK. Statistics show that the mortality rate is very high. They may live a couple of days but most of them die, so it’s better to keep the fish you catch. The bite is unbelievable and should continue this way into September. The fall bite will be starting soon as the water starts to cool down, so make your plans on the web with www.FishNorfork.com for everything Norfork Lake. Be sure to read Tom’s Fall Striper tactics on the www.NorforkLakeChamber.com website.
(updated 8-24-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort Norfork Lake's summer fishing pattern is showing signs that it is starting to change. Typically around beginning to the middle of September the striped bass move from the south end of the lake and scatter throughout the lake with a tendency to move upriver to the cooler water. This year appears to be a little different. The lake has great oxygenated water down to and a little past the thermocline and then the oxygen level drops to a very low level. This is keeping all species of fish above 40 feet with most concentrating around the 30-35 feet level, regardless of the water depth. The lake surface water temperature has cooled off a bit and currently is in the low 80s down from the 90-degree water temperature of a week ago. I am sure the cooler water is a big relief to the striped bass, as they prefer temperatures in the 60s and low 70s. Because of the change that is occurring, Lou says he is starting to find feeding striped bass up in the mid to northern parts of the lake, which is a little earlier than normal.
Two weeks ago, Lou was fishing the south part of the lake with his granddaughter using threadfin shad and they were limiting out most days with stripers and hybrids. After she went back home, Lou changed his tactics and switched from live bait fishing to vertical jigging with a spoon and to casting lures for largemouth bass. Lou says he has mainly been fishing within 6 miles in all directions from Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. His best bite has been in the late afternoon. Large schools of fish are feeding in 25-35 feet of water mainly on large flats. If you find the bait, there will be fish not far away. The south end of the lake continues to be very productive for striped bass early in the morning with live bait in the same 30-35 feet of water. Look for stripers off of points within 0-2 miles of the dam and you should find some nice fish. The walleye, white bass, catfish and spotted bass bite has been improving and they are in the same type of areas as the stripers and hybrids. One great thing about vertical jigging with a spoon is that they will catch all species. Earlier this week, Lou caught every species in the lake except crappie by vertical jigging. He also likes to horizontal jig by casting out a Kastmaster type of blade bait, letting it sink to the bottom then jerk it back to the boat bouncing it along the bottom. Lou says he’s used his spoons the same way, but have had more success with the blade type baits. He has caught most of his walleye using a ¾-ounce spoon, but instead of vertical jigging he has been moving slowly with his trolling motor and dragging the spoon along the bottom and jerking it as he is moving. Most times they attack it as it hits the bottom after a jerk. Crappie appear to be scattered out on the same flats as all the other fish. They have not moved into the brush as of yet, but will do very soon. He is picking up a few while jigging my spoon, and the catches have been 15-plus-inch monsters. There are some nice largemouth mixed in with all the other species in the same areas, but have had more luck on rocky points going into a creek or cove. Most of the fish caught have been suspended 10-20 feet down and a wiggle wart has worked great. There has also been some sporadic topwater action with a Zara Spook puppy since they wanted smaller bait. For you nighttime bass fisher people, work the bottom with a jig and pig along the bluff lines or use a tube jig or dark spinner bait by docks after dark.
Lake Norfork level is rising very slowly and currently sits at 554.29. Minimal power generation occurring to allow this rise. The lake surface water temperature has fallen to around 83-84 degrees, but it will rise once the air temperature warms up again. The main lake is clear with the creeks and coves stained.
(updated 8-24-2016) Guide Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service said the lake was 554.2 feet msl over the weekend and the water temperature ws in the mid 80s. Look for stripers on the lower end of the lake from Point 2 to the dam and a couple miles east up in Big Creek near Hand Cove and Jordan. Most of them are suspended down 40 feet and can be on the bottom in 40 feet or out in 100 feet of water. Check the bays down by the dam and out off the points or the deep side of the points. On a clear day Steve lies to use a silver jigging spoon and on cloudy days he likes white. Use at least a 3/4-ounce and use a barrel swivel on your spoon. It helps eliminate line twist. The Fle-Fly bendable spoons are working well. Early in the morning there are some bass hitting topwater. For the deeper fish in the 15-40-feet range, throw a jig, Texas-rigged worm, drop-shot with a small minnow-type bait or a 4-inch worm. Try a jigging spoon for the deeper ones. Some walleye have been hitting jigging spoons down around 35 feet. There are some nice whites and hybrids suspended around 35 feet.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 8-31-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) saidNorfork Lake rose 0.5 feet to rest at 1.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet and 25.6 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had reliable wadable water every morning, with light generation in the afternoon. The Norfork has fished better on the lower water and has not been as crowded with wadable water on the White. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (#18, #20, #22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (#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. My favorite fly has been the Green Butt. Dry Run Creek has been very busy, with summer vacation, in full swing. It has not fished as well but is still yielding some trophy trout. The hot flies have been sowbugs (#14), Y2Ks (#12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise #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 8-31-2016) 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 8-31-2016) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the river is navigable. Try John Berry's 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.