Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 21, 2017

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report June 21, 2017.

White River

(updated 6-21-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says this past week has seen heavier generation schedules in the late afternoon and evening, decreasing water levels through the morning hours. It will take some patience to get the trout to pay attention to your bait in the a.m. Quarter-ounce Rooster Tails and Panther Martins with gold blades and yellow bodies have been successful in this scenario. In the afternoon, the bite is good with Red Wigglers and nightcrawlers floating at mid-depth. Drifting a scented pink worm works well in rising, high water. Sculpins have been scarce, so the bite has slowed down some; they’re trying salted minnows today; expect some feedback on that next week. The GULP 3-inch smelt minnow would be an acceptable replacement if live minnows aren't available. Celebrate summer on the river – no better place to stay cool!

(updated 6-21-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water clarity is clear. The trout bite was excellent for the past week, both with rainbows and browns.


(updated 6-21-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-435-2169) said last Friday that last week ended with just a trace of rainfall in Cotter, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady at 27.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet. This is 5.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.4 feet to rest at 7.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 6.8 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 7.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.3 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had no wadable water with more moderate generation. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of flood pool. The Corps of Engineers has closed the flood gates on all of the lakes in the White River system. Expect a lot of generation, with some wadable water, in the near future. On the White, 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 size 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 (John’s current favorite is a size 14 hare and copper nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lots of lead and long leaders to get your flies down.
John also said, “We have had a tough spring this year on our trout streams. We have had some of the heaviest spring rains that I can remember. At the beginning of the year, all of the lakes in the White River system were well below the top of power pool. We were enjoying wadable water on both the White and Norfork rivers. Now, after the heavy rains we received, which resulted in flooding on the Norfork and White rivers, the lake levels are at or near the top of flood pool.
“During the flooding, water was held back in the lakes. Once the flooding downstream had receded, the Army Corps of Engineers opened the flood gates on all of the dams on the White River System in order to lower the lakes a bit to prevent them from failing. During the flooding, the conditions were not safe. There was a lot of debris floating downstream and most, if not all, of the launch ramps were closed. When the floodgates were open, some of the ramps were open and the rivers were not as perilous but the water level was so high that it was difficult to fish.

“I did not fish during the flooding, but I fished the White and Norfork during the heavy water levels brought on by the floodgates. It was tough and I am glad it is over. Long leaders and heavy weight were the rule of the day. We caught trout but there were no easy days.
“In the past week, conditions have improved on both rivers. The floodgates have been closed on all of the dams, and the water levels on our rivers are lower. The ramps are all open, the rivers are all navigable and fishing has improved. To top it off, there is even a little wadable water. I guided both rivers [last] week and did well.
“On Monday, I fished the White at Rim Shoals. I was pleased to see the river at a very productive level. The water was running at about 8,800 cfs. This is the rough equivalent of just under three full generators. There was enough water for me to easily navigate the water with my conventional outboard powered by a propeller. At this water level, the fishing was much easier. We could use leaders that were shorter. Even more important, we could use less lead. This made the casting much easier. We caught plenty of trout and enjoyed the day.
“The next day we fished the Norfork. My clients were staying at a cabin on the river. I checked the prediction and noted that we would have a brief window of wadable water early in the morning. We were on the river at 7:30 a.m. It was on the bottom and still stained from the flooding earlier in the year. We found the river to be greatly changed. Places that used to be bedrock were graveled in. Spots that were previously gravel-bottomed were now bedrock. I must say that my wading staff was indispensable as I navigated through this new environment.

“The fishing was pretty good. We managed to land a 16-inch brook trout. This is the largest brook that one of my clients has ever landed. I caught a 19-incher on my own, but that was 20 years ago. Since then my best has been a 14. The water came up and we launched my boat. We floated the Norfork. The going was slow, but we still managed to land a fat 24-inch brown. The cutthroat eluded us so we did not get the grand slam. All in all, it was a good day, with two trophies landed.
“If you have not been out, you should try it. Things are back to normal.”


Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 689.38 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).


(updated 6-21-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said last week that the water has come down but was still 30 extra free above full pool. Surface temperature had been ranging 76 to 80 and upwards to even 85 degrees in the back of creeks. The post-spawn fish that were deep have moved back up a little bit. It kind of killed the drop-shot bite. However, early in the morning if you get in back of some of the creeks, there’s a topwater bite going both early and late. The fish are keying on the shad. If you watch your graph, there are a ton of fish suspending about 20 feet. You can be over 100 foot or 10 foot. Watch your graph, have a topwater handy at all times. The bigger creeks, if they have some color in them, those are worthy of fishing if you’ve got some water coming in from the back. Start out there early; Del’s been catching a lot of fish early on the topwater bite and that’s a lot of fun, he said. Buzzbaits working on the flats. If you’re fish in those pockets a buzzbait works well when there is a lot of submerged cover. If you got a big weather front moving in, or you want to try and get a big one, the Whopper Plopper is working. If you’ve got isolated cover, a popper is working well. If you’re covering water, spinnerbaits are still picking up fish. Del uses a ½-ounce War Eagle, and you can change the color depending on where you’re at or the conditions. Also he’s catching a few on the ol’ jighead Keitech bait. Del prefers the one with the blade if you’ve got clouds and the wind; it’s kind of like the Finesse spinnerbait. Also, Del expects a lot of these fish are going to stay up in these bushes. They’ve got everything they need up there – they’ve got cover, they’ve got food, everything is right there. The crayfish jig bite has been really good, he added – try a ½-ounce football jig with a Netbait Paca-craw in peanut butter, or use an Arkansas craw, a green pumpkin, and maybe something with a little orange in there. You can fish the lake, you can fish the river, and you can do some bowfishing. If the water lays flat and calm ideally, fish it and get out early, get the topwater bite and move out to the points and go from point to point to point. Don’t sit anywhere for too long. If you get around the fish, they’re schooling up pretty good so hang out in that area, fish it thoroughly and you can come back to it if you need to. But the big thing is the topwater bite – get out early and go halfway back in the creeks. The first channel swing towards the middle of the creek has been about where they’ve been in about all the creeks.


Norfork Lake


As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 573.98 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 552.00 msl, April-September – 554.00 msl).

(updated 6-21-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says Norfork Lake is on fire right now. The striper bite is awesome on the lower, southern area of the lake. Starting early, look for stripers as shallow as 22 feet and just follow them out as the sun comes up. The best bite the last week has been around 7:30 a.m. in 40-50 feet of water. The striper are hugging the bottom, so right now Tom and crew are putting are baits on the bottom, then make three turns on the reels to keep the weight off the bottom. They are also using a short leader to keep the bait close to the bottom; this has been very effective. The threadfin shad they’re using are less than 2 inches long. We are using No. 2 and No. 4 hooks with a 12-pound leader. The best points are Koso and Thumb. Tom says he took the Gerrish family out; Scott and Amy with their three boys, Caleb, Connor and Dillon. The boys were 6 to 12 years old and jumped right in on how to hook and catch the fish. Tom has the boys reel very fast when they see the rod tip go down to the water. This sets the circle hook and then they take it out of the rod holder and fight the fish. Tom said they started early leaving the dock at 5 a.m. and did not have a bite for the first hour. The weather was not good but they were close to a marina so he wasn’t worried. In less than 2 minutes they went from no waves to 3-foot rollers. They raced to the marina and were very wet when they got there. They waited for over an hour until the stormed passed. When they went out again they had no bites but then went where Tom’s son, Sean, was fishing and started again. The fish started to bite and in less than 2 hours they caught 15 stripers and lost a few more. Everybody was very happy and had an experience they will not soon forget.

(updated 6-14-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been good over the last couple of weeks. All species are biting, but the typical pattern for this time of year is different. The higher-than-normal water level is keeping the baitfish inside the sunken trees and brush, and the fish are loving it. Plenty of places to hide and feed. The predators are, as you would guess, up inside of the brush with the baitfish. Striper fishing has been excellent from the southern portion of the mid-lake area down to the dam and east of the dam partway back into Big Creek. Main lake points, as well as secondary points back into the creeks and coves, have been the best areas to find the striped bass. Early in the morning you can find stripers and hybrids up tight to the sunken trees and brush feeding on shad. If you can find an area with the shad flipping back in the brush, all species of fish will be in the area feeding. As the sun rises over the tree line, the stripers tend to move out into deeper, cooler water. They will still be off the points, but will move out to find water temperatures in the low 60s, which at this time is about 40-45 feet deep. Surface water temperature is close to 80 degrees. Live bait is working the best for him, Lou said. He’s been using live threadfin shad, gizzard shad or larger shiners. Artificial baits that have worked have been swimbaits, crankbaits and spinnerbaits. Lou says he attempts to get the bait down to the tops of the sunken buck brush, and try to retrieve along the tops of the brush anywhere from 10 feet to 25 feet of water. Once the stripers go deeper, vertical jigging with a spoon will start working. So far though, Lou says, he can't seem to beg a bite on a spoon, but they will work before long.
Lou adds that both largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing have been good. Early and late in the day they are up tight on the sunken brush. Lou says he has had luck over the last week casting a Zara Spook into the brush and slowing walking the dog back to the boat. Lou says he’s called up many fish by this method. Crankbaits and spinnerbaits are also working very well. Try to get a deep-diving crankbait so it will get down to the tops of the brush in 10 to 25 feet of water. The fish are inside of the brush feeding on shad.
Walleye fishing has increasingly gotten better and better. Troll crankbaits on the old shoreline just off of the sunken brush in 20-25 feet of water. Lou had a group of guys down last week and they were using this method of fishing. They landed well over 20 walleye, many keepers. Firetiger was their most productive crankbait color pattern. The walleye are also moving onto the flats in the 15-30 feet water range. Using a Lindy rig with nightcrawlers has been working. You can also drop-shot a large shiner, keeping it just above the bottom in the same water depth of 15-25 feet.
Crappie and bluegills are up in the sunken brush. There has been some nice fish caught on crankbaits as well as spinnerbaits. Live bait will be the best, but the fish are very hard to reach. They have moved very deep into the brush, but working the edges of the sunken brush and especially under sunken Willow trees are holding some nice fish.
Catfishing has been excellent. Limblines, jugs and trotlines are all producing some really nice fish. Norfork Lake's current water level is falling slowly and is at 574.95 as of earlier this week. The current surface water temperature is in the high 70s. Parts of the lake are clear (far north upriver and far south east of the dam). The remainder of the lake is slightly stained with a greenish blue color. Parts of the mid-lake area around the two bridges are still showing a slightly brown tint of stain. Overall the lake is in great condition and is getting back to normal. I am noticing very little floating debris, but caution is still advised as always.


Norfork Tailwater


(updated 6-21-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Norfork Lake fell 0.7 feet to rest at 17.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.72 feet and 5.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had limited wadable water and the water is stained. It fishes well one day and poorly the next. 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. John’s favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worm with a ruby midge dropper.

Dry Run Creek has been affected by the flooding but has returned to its banks and is fishing 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). 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 6-21-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. With the warmer weather the smallmouths are more active. John’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 6-21-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. With the warmer weather the smallmouths are more active. John’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.