Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 31, 2017

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 31, 2017.

White River

(updated 5-31-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is "tremendously high," and there have been 10 generators running. Fishing is difficult at best, and anglers are advised to be extra careful.


(updated 5-31-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the White River is flowing very fast and deep through the Arkansas Ozarks, so be prepared to add weight to your line, go deep and get ready for a fight because the trout have never been healthier and stronger. Some say the browns are getting lazy, though; they don't have to search for food since it's coming right at them all the time from banks saturated with the high water. So, put your bait right in front of them and flash it around. If you're using stick baits, lures or spinners, make sure they are bright and carry some weight. They’ve hooked more browns on plastic worms and live worms than they can count, even nabbed some with white PowerBait. Leave the shrimp at home for now. One of the dock’s favorite fly guys mentioned that they're blessed with good dry-fly action most any time on this river when the sun is shining and warming the topwater.

Remember that the trout will stay near the banks in this swift current so cast that direction. Remember, too, to always pay attention to how quickly your boat is moving downstream; stay alert, stay safe and enjoy the beauty of the Arkansas Ozarks.


(updated 5-31-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-435-2169) said just before Memorial Day weekend that they had a rain event (about an inch in Cotter), warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.6 feet to rest at 30.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet. This is 2.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Corps of Engineers has opened 17 flood gates to release 13,300 cfs to augment generation and lower the lake. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1 foot to rest at 11.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 3.1 feet above the top of flood pool. The Corps of Engineers has opened flood gates to release 9,800 cfs to augment generation and lower the lake. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 7.7 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.9 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had no wadable water with high generation. On the White, the water below Crooked Creek and the Buffalo has cleared up. 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 ruby midge (size 18) suspended below it). Use lots of lead and long leaders to get your flies down


Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 692.63 feetmsl (normal conservation pool: 659.00msl).


(updated 5-31-2017) K Dock Marina said it was closed from flooding until further notice.


(updated 5-31-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said late last week that the lake was at 691 feet msl.

The water temperature was 72-78 degrees depending on where you’re at. By end of day it’s getting a little warmer more. In the back of the creeks Del found 80-degree water, so the water ius warming up pretty quick. Army Corps of Engineers has opened up the flood gates for Bull Shoals and they’ve got water running, the lake has crested and it’s started to come down a foot to foot and a half. It’s moved the fish around some but not a whole lot. A lot of the fish are concentrating on the points. Some of the main lake points have some nice fish on them. You can catch them on the old trail line. A drop-shot is working, and some of those fish are starting to move out to the humps. It’s a little bit early but you can drop-shot or spoon those. The points with wind are going to do a little bit better. If you can find color, wind and bait, that’s kind of the key you’re looking for. A lot of the big smallmouth are down 40-45 feet. Most of the fish you’re going to catch are in that old shore line range, 35 feet, that’s where the numbers are going to be. The black bass in some of these creeks, if there is shad in there and some color, that’s my favorite way to catch them. You can catch them flipping a jig. Look for the big logjams with shade, cover, bait, wind. There is so much cover in the lake for these fish, though, it’s not like you’re going to the back of the creek and catch a million fish, but you’ll catch some quality fish. Been catching a lot of fish on a swimbait. Throwing a little Keitech, my little finesse spinnerbait, that seems to be doing well also. Long-casting it out on the points, slow-rolling it and bringing it back to the boat. A lot of those fish are suspended in the 20-foot range, so when you get out on those points, make the long cast and just slow-roll it back to the boat. If they’re positioned a little deeper you can use the Road Runner-style head with a shad-style bait. Count it down to 10 and just tickle the tops of the old brush line. That’s where the fish are at right now. If you do want to go back into creeks, there is a lot of cover. A lot of guys have been asking where are all the largemouth bass. They’re in there, and they’re not very deep, there is just so much cover. The thing you want to remember is, they still want to be close to deep water. So if you get back in a channel swing of the back of a creek, if you’ve got deep water nearby, find the point or a pocket or wedge that those fish are going to hold to so they can get out. By far, still the best bait if you have the right wind and right conditions is a spinnerbait. Spinners are working on the cloudy days. If you’re going in the backs of creeks, Del says he’s still throwing a squarebill covering water. And a lot of guys are getting excited that, yes, you can start catching fish on topwater pretty regularly if you can get out in the evening. There’s a good little morning bite that doesn’t last long. Del says he doesn’t know if he’d do it all day, but you can go out for the evening topwater bite. Those fish will move out on those points, so cast across the points, that last big bush or tree that’s there. Or cast the side of the point where the wind’s smacking it; that’s where those fish are going to be.



Norfork Lake


As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 577.08 feetmsl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75msl, April-September – 552.00msl).

(updated 5-31-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says the rain continues but not every day as it was. The Norfork Lake level is being maintained at 3 feet under the top of the flood pool. Tom said the hope is, once they get into their hotter period, the lake can be lowered. Striper fishing is outstanding right now in the mid-lake and down to the dam and east to Big Creek. Almost every point is holding fish. The shad continue to stay in the brush on the points and the stripers are staying right with them. In the last week they have seen a lot of topwater action around Point 1 and out in the main lake. The only problem is its not consistent and you never know when the stripers will come up. If you can get out before sunrise you should be able to catch stripers throwing swimbaits into the brush on any point in the southern part of the lake. You should also try a topwater lure off the points even if you see no surface action. The stripers are there, just not chasing surface baits. If you want to try live bait and cannot get shad, use shiners. They are working. Try long-lining them behind your boat, pitching them into the brush, and downlines set 28 feet.
Tom added, “Frank from Lakeview schedule a trip for his family who had never striper fished on Norfork Lake. It was rather cold and overcast with a slight miss in the air. I started in Diamond Bay and had no bites the first hour so moved to another spot and started to have some success. We caught a couple and loss a couple, then the fish got active and we could not keep up with the action. I had eight lines out and at different times we had three and four bites and fish on the line. We ended up catching 11 and keeping nine. It was very hectic, but for their first time striper fishing, it was quite an experience they will not soon forget.”


(updated 5-24-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said it has been a real roller coaster on Norfork Lake for the past two weeks. On April 29 the lake started to rise until it reached the top of the flood pool. Missouri had devastating floods, and much of that water eventually ended up in Norfork Lake. The lake became muddy from north to south, but the muddy water is finally starting to fall out and the lake is stable. The high water will be with them for quite a while, but high water is not a bad thing. Most species had completed their spawn prior to the high water, so the newly born fry will have plenty of places to hide, making future fishing even better. Fishing will continue to improve daily over the whole lake as the mud settles out and the water turns to a great stained color for fishing.

Lou says he has traveled most of the lake over the last week and have found good fishing water starting in the mid-lake area down to the dam. It appears that the brown water is falling out from the backs of the creeks and working its way out to the main lake. The farther south you travel on the main lake the clearer the water gets. Overall, the fish are on the shoreline inside of the newly sunken brush and trees. Live bait has been working exceptionally well. Threadfin shad and large shiners are both working. Lou has been using a No. 6 kahle hook with no weight and pitching the bait into openings between the trees. Lou has also been moving slowly right outside the trees in about 15-20 feet of water and dragging the baits behind the boat, again with no weight.
Earlier this week he was fishing on a point down in the dam area and hooked into a big fish. The fish started to run for deep water and he knew he had a big striper. This fish came very close to spooling him. After about a 20 minute battle, Lou landed a 40-inch 30-pound striped bass. Lou was only using a 7-foot medium light action rod with a spinning reel filled with 8-pound monofilament line. Light tackle makes the battle a lot of fun. Friday Lou fished the mid-lake major creeks. He was about halfway back in a creek where the water became clear to stained. He fished channel swing points pitching live bait up in the brush. Lou was fishing with several of his guests and they landed almost every species in the lake. Lou has also been using some artificial baits. Tuesday he landed a nice striper on a 5-inch swimbait with a 3/8-ounce jighead. He tries to cast the bait into an opening and try to get it as close to the new shore as possible and then reel back to the boat. Jerkbaits, either soft plastics or hard baits, will also be working well up in the brush. The best bite, Lou says, is early morning. He’s been told that the afternoon bite seems to be slow. As the Norfork Lake water warms, look for the stripers to move away from the shoreline and go to a little deeper water. Monday morning a couple of our guests found some really good topwater action for striped bass. They got to their fishing spot and could see the fish exploding as they approached. Once the topwater stopped, they put away their Zara Spooks and proceeded to pitch live bait into the shore and continued to catch fish.
He adds, the Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing is also improving at Norfork Lake. These species are located in the same areas as the striped bass; you will find them inside of the sunken brush and trees. Lou has had the best luck catching fish by finding sunken buckbrush in about 10-15 feet depths, letting his bait sink down to the tops of the brush and then working it back to the boat. He has caught many fish on the fall of the bait. Creature baits worked along the brush will pick up some nice fish. Again, find the stained to clear water and start fishing. Lou says he has not heard anything about crappie, but he is sure they are inside of the brush feeding on shad. You may need to pull out your 12-foot long cane pole to be able to get to the crappie inside of the brush along the banks.
The Norfork Lake level is holding steady at 577.03 feet msl. The Corps of Engineers is running all generators for the major part of the day to keep up with the inflow and hold the lake stable. The water surface temperature is in the low 70s. The lake is muddy (but clearing slowly) from the Robinson area to the Cranfield area and upriver, as well as from the bridges up to the Bennett area. The lake is stained a little south of the Robinson area and continues to become clearer the farther south you go. There is still floating debris in the lake, mainly concentrated around the Mallard Point area through Cranfield and upriver as well as back in the Fout Marina area. They are expecting a strong south wind in the coming days, so a lot of this debris will be pushed to the shore until a north wind or no wind happens. As always, be careful when on the lake.

Norfork Tailwater


(updated 5-31-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Norfork Lake rose 0.5 feet to rest at 20.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet and 2.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Corps of Engineers has closed the flood gates and returned the dam to normal generation. On the Norfork, they had some wadable water at night and early morning. On the Norfork there was flooding but the river is back in its banks and the flood gates have been closed. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. 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 size 10). The fishing is better in the morning. My favorite rig has been a hare and copper nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has been affected by the flooding but has returned to its banks. 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).

John also said, “As you know, we have had some recent flooding, on the Norfork tailwater. The double whammy of the big flows on the White (caused by flooding on the Buffalo and Crooked Creek), which backed up into the Norfork and the Army Corps of Engineers opening several flood gates at Norfork Dam, caused some major damage, on the Norfork. Once the flood gates were closed and the ramps were cleaned up, fishing returned to the Norfork.

“I began fishing it as soon as I could. As I floated it in my river boat, I noted many changes. I saw wrecked or missing docks, trash hung up in trees, erosion and downed trees. I also noted several major changes in the channels. Many were filled in with gravel that severely restricted traffic. There were also spots that had been scoured out and were much deeper now. I figured that once I began wading the river I would note more profound changes.

“I finally got my chance to wade part of it a week ago Tuesday. The day before it was off until noon but this information was not included on the Southwestern Power Administration prediction, so I missed it. I was doing a two-day guide trip and I always like to wade one day and float the other, if possible. I had fished some novice fly-fishers Monday on the White in my boat, with limited success. I wanted to do something different. That afternoon I checked the prediction and saw a brief window of opportunity on the Norfork. I was to fish a half-day and that worked out well.

“My clients were game for an early start and a different approach. I figured that Quarry Park would be a bit crowded and opted to fish Ackerman Access. It has always been a favorite of mine. When we arrived, we noted that the river was up but that there was no current. The White was so high, the Norfork was backed up all the way to the island in front of Charlie’s. The water looked deep but I figured that I could hug the bank and make it to the island. The going was challenging and there were a couple of spots where the channel had been scoured out around a blowdown. The water almost hit the top of my waders, but we made it.

“When we arrived at the island, I was surprised. The pool in front of Charlie’s house (the kiddie hole) was graveled in. The lower island had been washed away. About a third of the upper island was also gone, leaving a string of large boulders that had been placed there to prevent this from happening. Most of the water was now moving through the right channel (facing upstream).

“It was like fishing a new river. It was like a place that I had never fished before. I looked around and noted some new spots that I thought would hold fish. We began fishing with a cerise San Juan worm with a root beer midge dropper below it. There was one false start that produced no fish, but after moving to a new spot both anglers were soon into good fish. We caught several rainbows over 20 inches or better and enjoyed ourselves a lot. Unfortunately, the water began to rise and we had to leave immediately before the deep water we had crossed getting in got any deeper. Somehow we made it safely out. It had been a challenging wade in and out. I would not recommend it to any angler. You would be much safer kayaking down from Quarry Park.”


Buffalo National River


(updated 5-31-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River is navigable but high. With the warmer weather the smallmouths should be more active. Berry’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.



Crooked Creek


(updated 5-31-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek is navigable but high. With the warmer weather the smallmouths should be more active. Berry’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly