Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 28, 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 28, 2017.

White River

(updated 6-28-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says water releases from Bull Shoals Dam remain at 9,500 cfs on average (about three generators) during the morning hours, then are bumped up another generator (approximately 3,300 cfs) in the afternoons and evenings. Don't let the high water scare you; this is great for growing healthy, bigger and tastier fish. The catch might be a little slower but the quality is greater. If you're having difficulty, get a guide who can help you find fish in low or high water, rising or falling water, and catch your keepers. They report having had phenomenal success this week with the Head Hunter series of lures, both the 100 and the 200 series. They'll work best under overcast skies and earlier in the day rather than later. Sunrise PowerBait alone or matched with a little florescent yellow will bring in a rainbow or two, then switch up your colors and cast again. Drifting a redworm, or a scented pink worm, attracts attention and will net the rainbows, too. Be especially careful during the next couple of weeks on whatever body of water you're fishing because there will be many people celebrating the July 4 holiday, and lots of kids will be on the water. Enjoy the holiday and thank a vet for the freedoms we're celebrating.

(updated 6-28-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water clarity is clear. The results of this past week mirrored the week before: The trout bite was excellent for the both with rainbows and browns.

(updated 6-28-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-435-2169) said last Friday that in the past week they had had some minor rain, combining for about a half-inch in Cotter, with warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 0.4 feet to rest at 27.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.73 feet. This is 5.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.5 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool and 8.3 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at 7 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water with moderate generation. On the White, the hot spot has been Buffalo 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 (John’s current favorite is a cerise San Juan worm with a size 14 bead-head pheasant tail nymph suspended below it). Use lots of lead and long leaders to get your flies down.

Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.

John also says, “Last week I had a two-boat, four-day guide trip. It was four retired guys from the St. Louis area. All were accomplished anglers who had fished from Alaska to Argentina. My regular partner, Dennis Schule, was down with an injured shoulder, so I enlisted Danny Barker to help me with the trip. He enthusiastically stepped up and did a great job. The general idea was that we would each take two of them and switch off after two days. That way the guys could get a varied experience from fishing with us. I like to fish the Norfork and Rim Shoals. Danny likes to fish the Buffalo Shoals area.
“The week went well. My first day went as expected. We caught some big fish (a 16-inch brook and a 24-inch brown) on the Norfork. Our next day on the White produced more trout but no trophies. On my last day, I returned to Rim Shoals. I checked the prediction for that day and was pleased with the outcome. It called for lower generation of around 6,000 cfs early in the day with heavier generation later in the day. I knew that Rim was 24 miles below the dam and we would never see the higher generation, while we were there. This was the lowest water level we had seen since the flooding. The day was near perfect. The morning was overcast with light and variable winds, with a promise of sunshine and 80-degree temperatures in the afternoon. I rigged their rods a bit differently. On one, I put on a Y2K with a bead-head pheasant tail dropper. On the other, I used a cerise San Juan with the same pheasant tail dropper. I used an AAA split shot and set the depth at 7 feet from bottom fly to the Thingamabobber.

“I chose the Y2K and the cerise San Juan worm to be attractors and used the pheasant tail to imitate the nymphal form of the sulphurs that are coming off. I tied the pheasant tail on a size 14 jig hook with a copper slotted bead. It was factory barbless and, because it was tied on a jig hook, did not tend to hang the bottom. We began fishing and had immediate success, landing three trout on the first drift. It soon became apparent that the rig with the cerise San Juan worm was out fishing the rig with the Y2K three to one. I stopped and stripped off the Y2K and replaced it with a cerise San Juan worm. It had an immediate impact and we began picking up more trout.

“When we broke for lunch, we had about 25 trout (one of my clients had a clicker). I don’t usually count. In the afternoon, the sun came out and it got a bit warmer. The fishing got better and we were catching a lot of fish. We would pick up two or three trout on each drift. The amazing thing to me was that there was no one else fishing there; we had the whole place to ourselves for most of the day. We finished the day with 63 trout. We landed one good brown but the rest were rainbows. Most were in the 14- to 16-inch slot. It was a great day, and it was nice to be fishing good water again.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 688.74 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet 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.

(updated 6-28-2017) K Dock Marina said the dock is now secured and it looks like the lake is starting to drop. The road into the marina on K Highway should be out of the water. Slip renters and their guests can access the marina from a temporary walkway set up off the first driveway. Unfortunately, general public cannot access the marina until their main walkway is secured, due to insurance reasons. They are not renting boats at this time due to the high water and possible hazards from debris still floating down the lake. 38 Paddle Board Company will be open by appointment only. They will escort their customers and guest onto the property. Go to for contact information.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 573.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 6-28-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says striper fishing continues to be very good right now. The stripers continue to feed on crawdads very close to the bottom. If you have a 2D depth finder, you will miss most of the fish. Structure Scan will show you the stripers that you would otherwise think was not there. The only way, Tom says, they get them to hit is by putting the bait at the bottom then bringing the weight up a foot and let the shad swim right off the bottom. The stripers have been very aggressive when they take the bait. Most often Tom and his groups have a hit on one pole and then another pole will get hit. The best places to fish are still around the dam area off the main points and flats. Tom says he has caught stripers from the mouth of Big Creek to the dam. This action should continue well into August, so now is the time to get on the lake.
Tom also says, “I received a call from Kathy who was staying at Mockingbird Bay Resort. Kathy and Iris wanted to try striper fishing. The ladies were from south Arkansas and were up here to spend a weekend on Norfork Lake. It was their first time out on the lake and they could not get over how beautiful the lake was and the clear water. We left the dock at 6 a.m. and headed to my first spot. It did not take long and we had our first striper. Kathy took the pole and was having the time of her life. You could have heard halfway across the lake. The action was very fast at times with two and three poles having stripers on the line. Within two hours we had our limit and were heading back to the dock for pictures. Both Kathy and Iris were already planning their return trip with friends and spouses.”

(updated 6-28-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said striped bass fishing on Norfork Lake has been outstanding for the last couple of weeks. This year the stripers are in the summer pattern a little earlier than normal. You can find the striped bass in 40-55 feet of water close to the bottom. Early morning, after sunrise, Lou has been finding large schools of fish feeding heavily on shad. As the morning wears on, the stripers are staying at this same depth but will be hugging the bottom. Small live bait is working the best for Lou, he said, either threadfin shad or shiners. For his live bait poles he is using a 2-ounce weight with a swivel on both ends, then he ties on a 4-5-foot leader with a No. 6 hook. Yes, this is a very small hook, but Lou tries to match the hook to the bait so the bait can still swim around. Lou will drop the bait to the bottom, then give two cranks of the reel to lift the weight off of the bottom. Best places to fish are from point 2 back to the Sand Island area. Start looking for the stripers on the points and both sides of the points and when you find them, hold on!|
Lou added that the largemouth bass bite is also very good. They can be found all over the lake. The best areas to start fishing is part way to all the way back into the creeks and coves. The largemouth are up in the sunken brush early and late in the day and move out to 20-30 feet of water during the sunny part of the day. Swimbaits, plastic worms, crankbaits and spinnerbaits are all working well at times for the largemouth bass. The largemouth will also come up for a topwater bait early in the morning. Crappie, bluegills and walleye are all feeding inside of the sunken brush early and late in the day. The crappie and bluegill stay inside of or on the edge of the brush during the day. The walleye are starting to move out onto the flats into 20-40 feet of water. Live bait is a great choice for all these species. The lake as of Tuesday was falling slowly with sporadic power generation; it is dropping 1-2 inches per day. The majority of the lake is clear with the creeks and coves partially stained. The lake surface water temperature was 81-82 degrees Tuesday morning.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 6-28-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Norfork Lake fell 0.9 feet to rest at 17.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.48 feet and 6.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had limited wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of flood pool. Expect a lot of generation with limited wadable water in the near future. The water on the Norfork 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 is fishing well. With school out it can get a bit crowded. 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/Crooked Creek


(updated 6-28-2017) 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.