Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 5, 2017

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 5, 2017.

White River

(updated 7-5-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Welcome back; we hope all were able to celebrate Independence Day with family and friends, especially if you were able to be on the river or one of Arkansas' beautiful lakes.” The river saw much less traffic than usual for a holiday weekend due to daylong showers on the 4th. Good news: The steady inflow of fresh water from the dam will help clear out any debris or dinginess from the rain in a short time. If you're fishing the river in dingy conditions, find the mud line and cast you bait right there, mid- to lower depths, bright colors. Try a white, fluorescent yellow or chartreuse body with a gold blade if using Rooster Tails, or same-colored eggs or egg patterns. A soft peach-colored egg will earn a few bites, too. The Headhunter lures continue to astound us, best luck coming with the orange belly gold 4.5-inch lure in overcast skies. A nice brown took the bait from the bank next to the access area in Cotter yesterday. Tie on redworms or nightcrawlers in the afternoon when generation flow increases. Don't rush; take your time; enjoy the whole gamut of your fishing experience in our great Natural State of Arkansas.

(updated 7-5-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said it was a very good week. Anglers reported lots of rainbows, brown trout, walleye and bream. The water clarity was fair and the river level was high, with 4-6 generators running.

(updated 7-5-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-435-2169) said on Friday that during the past week, they had had a rain event, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 0.8 feet to rest at 27 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.5 feet. This is 6.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.2 feet to rest at 4.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 9.5 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 6.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had no wadable water with moderate generation. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of flood pool. We should expect a lot of generation with limited 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 (size 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 cerise San Juan worm with a size 15 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 said, “This week I was guiding a local gentleman and his visiting son-in-law on the White River at Rim Shoals. We had a pretty good morning and we stopped fishing for lunch at a picnic table under a shade tree at the Rim Shoals ramp. It was a surprisingly pleasant day, with unseasonably cool temperatures, partly cloudy skies and light winds. The water was a bit high at around 9,500 cfs, or the rough equivalent of three full generators with a promise of more to come soon. As we walked to the shaded picnic tables, I noticed two kayaks on the bank near the ramp. There were a couple of older guys (younger than me) rigging their rods. They were wearing waders and I surmised that were preparing to fish from their kayaks. I discussed with my clients that it seemed to me like a lot of water to fish from a kayak. When Lori and I fish from a kayak, we don’t actually fish from the kayak itself but use the boat to access wadable water. With this much generation there is no wadable water.

“As we sat there eating lunch, I made a couple of observations as they loaded the kayaks and launched them. First, they had some cheapo personal flotation devices (PFDs), also called life jackets, which they did not put on but put in the back of their kayaks. Second, one of the anglers looked like he had never been in a kayak before. I was concerned that anyone would get into a kayak without a PFD. I read in this publication that there was a kayak-related fatality last week where the kayaker drowned. He was sitting on his PFD and was not wearing it. I was also concerned that anyone would get into a kaya, with this much flow without the most rudimentary instruction. Lori and I have both taken canoe and kayak whitewater classes. That has not kept me from flipping my boat a couple of times in the past few years. I was wearing my PFD and got wet but was not injured. Lori has never flipped but always wears her PFD.

“We finished our lunch and headed downstream to fish. About a half-mile from the ramp I spotted an angler in a kayak trying to get control over an upside-down kayak. Upstream from him I noticed an angler on the bank. I pulled the boat alongside of the angler wrestling with the two kayaks and asked if I could help. He said that he was all right and asked that I pick up his buddy and link them up. It would have been impossible for him to get the boats upstream to his buddy in that current. The angler upstream would have to bushwhack through some heavy brush in order to link up with his boat.
“I carefully worked my way over to the stranded kayaker. As he got into my boat, he said, ‘Hi, I’m Gordon.’ I looked up. I knew this guy. He is related to my son-in-law. I have guided him on several occasions. He had shaved his mustache and I did not recognize him at the access. We quickly caught up and I learned that he had lost a $700 Winston fly rod in his mishap. That is an expensive lesson. There were a few more items that escaped from the kayak when it overturned. He had been lucky to make it to the bank and have his buddy secure his boat.

“I linked him up with his buddy and told him to wear his PFD. We went back to fishing. After a while we saw them return to the water and began working their way downstream. They were wearing their PFDs. Kayaks are a great way to enjoy our lakes and streams but can be dangerous. Take a while to learn how to safely handle them and always wear a PFD. I do!”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 688.18 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-5-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said last Thursday that at 688 feet msl the lake is still high but is dropping slowly. Del said he doesn’t know how long it’s going to take for the water to go down. Water temperature is about 82 degrees starting out, 88 by the end of the day depending on location. Fishing is in the summer pattern, and a couple of different things are working. For Del, bluffs, points, saddles. And, he said, because of where the water is at, 29 feet above normal, those fish that are normally deep (the drop-shot fish, the spoon fish) are still in the bushes. You can pick up a few on the bluff walls. When you come off the bluff walls, try drop-shotting, either using worm or shad-style bait. Del also says that you want to have a topwater tied on at all times and ready to go. They’ve had it where the fish are just blowing up anytime of the day. All those little shad balls, there are “wolf packs” going through. You’ll see the shad popping and if you can get that bait in there, you’ll do all right. Del suggests a Whopper Plopper; he says he’s excited about the new 110, it’s catching some fish. Buzzbaits are catching the fish. Zara Spoon, whatever topwater you’re comfortable with. Natural shad pattern seems to be the key. It’s summertime, you want to be out toward the main lake. The long points that go way out to the lake, those points are holding lots of fish. You can drag a jig off the points. Del says he is still not dragging it, he’s swimming it or stroking it off the tops of bushes. The fish in there are just going to hammer it. If he’s covering water, Del says, the Keitech is catching a few – quarter-ounce head, shad pattern, whatever color you like, depending on the day. And spinnerbait – if you have plenty of wind you can still catch fish on a spinnerbait. A lot of these fish he’s catching are still shallow, 20 feet or less. Walleyes, lot of guys are asking about them, Dell says he’s catching a few fairly shallow on a jig, 15 feet. “I know that’s messed up for the walleye guys. Usually this time of year you can bottom bounce one but the ones I’m catching on the jig are in the 10-15 feet range. All that bait is up there so the fish are up there eating and they don’t have any need to go deep. They have cover and they’ve got food. I don’t know if the deep bite is going to turn on. A lot of those fish are suspended too. The suspended fish can be tougher to target,” he said.

(updated 7-5-2017) K Dock Marina said they have been preoccupied with the devastating flood that hit there at the end of April and apologize that it’s been so long to post a report, but they have been very busy trying to straighten the marina out. However, things are looking up! The lake is still very high (688.7 feet msl, or 29 feet above normal) but in perfect fishing and boating conditions this week. Water temperature is ranging 83-86 degrees and the water is clear to stained. Here is what they have been hearing from the anglers the past two weeks. Black bass (Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass) are Good on big 10-inch plum-colored plastic worms off of flooded roadbeds. Also good on ½-ounce jigs in 10-20 feet off of flooded flats and points. Crankbaits are also good off of points and rocky bluffs. Topwater bite is good to fair in flooded brush. Try a weedless frog. Walleye are good to fair on nightcrawlers on flooded flats. Medium-size crankbaits are also working being trolled along the points and bluffs. Many are being caught still shallow in 6-15 feet. But look for suspended walleye in 20-30 feet on your graph. Drop a white or silver ½-ounce spoon if you get on top of them. Crappie are slow due to high water. Swimming minnows or live minnows around flooded trees work best. White bass are slow due to high water. Catfish are good to fair on trotlines. Also nightcrawlers in the entrance to coves. Bluegill are very good on crickets about anywhere. Also it’s a great time to rig the kids up with a worm and a bobber in any cove.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 573.36 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 7-5-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Norfork Lake fell 0.7 feet to rest at 16.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.25 feet and 7.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had limited wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of flood pool. We should expect a lot of generation with limited wadable water in the near future. On the Norfork, 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 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 7-5-2017) 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.