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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 12, 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 12, 2017.

White River

(updated 7-12-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says people ask, "Is the fishing OK on the river in July?" We say, "Yes, and yes!" When the Cotter area get fresh flows of water from the bottom of Bull Shoals Lake to ensure the river is trout-loving cold, the fish are as frisky as in February. It's the anglers who are affected by the heat, so get an extra early start during July and August, get out while it's still mild – they are blessed with early morning temps in the low ‘70s now – catch just enough trout to make you want to come back tomorrow, then get off the river before the midafternoon sun hits full force. That's the recipe for happy anglers. Looks like the brass-colored spoons and spinners are working well, brass Colorados, and brass-colored Blue Foxes have caught some nice rainbows. The Rebel Crawbaby picked up a really nice brown this past week. Try chartreuse-bellied floating lures, 3½- to 4-inch size. The Headhunter series 100 would be a good bet, but the ever-popular Rapala No. 5 brown trout or gold and black always brings in some trout. While the water level is low, you can catch your limit with shrimp and PowerBait cast into the channel mid-river. Expect higher daily water flows by the beginning of next week, then the larger lures can be played again. Drink plenty of water while you're out there in the summer heat and keep enjoying the great outdoors in the Arkansas Ozarks.

(updated 7-12-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said there is good fishing in the morning, while anglers are using boats for fishing in the evening. Since July 4 the fishing has been a bit slow overall, they say. Trout are good on PowerBait. There have been 5-6 generators running. Water is clear.

(updated 7-12-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) that during the past week they have had several rain events (combined for a bit over 4 inches in Cotter), warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 0.2 feet to rest at 27.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.5 feet msl. This is 6.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.5 feet to rest at 4 feet above seasonal power pool and 10 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.4 feet to rest at 6.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.7 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had no wadable water with moderate generation.
On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat 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.
John also said, “Last Saturday I had a guide trip with Marilyn Allen. She lives at Red Bud Shoals and had originally hired me to take her and her cousin (he was scheduled to visit) fishing. At the last minute her cousin canceled. She still wanted to go fishing and called to let me know about the change. While she was on the phone, she asked if my wife, Lori, wanted to join her. Both of them are dog people. As you know, Lori shows our English Labrador Retrievers, Tilley and Ghillie. Marilyn has two West Highland Terriers with which she competed in agility. Agility is where you direct your dog through an obstacle course that includes jumps, weave poles, tunnels and a teeter totter all at full speed. It is the most exciting canine competition to watch.

“Lori quickly agreed with the caveat that she would come a bit later, in her own car, so that she could care, for our dogs. She also wanted to break around lunch, so that she could check, on them. Marilyn requested that I motor her to her house on the river around lunch so that she could check on her dogs. This still left plenty of time for fishing.
“It was a beautiful day to be on the river. We went to Rim Shoals; which is just downstream from Marilyn’s home. The Corps of Engineers were running around 9,000 cfs, the rough equivalent of three generators. It was a cool start at 68 degrees but was forecast to reach 90 before the day was over. The sky was clear and the winds were light and variable.
“I already had the rods rigged for the day. I had Marilyn rigged with a bead-head pheasant tail nymph below a pink worm. I used an AAA split shot and a Thingamabobber (I love that name) strike indicator set 8½ feet above the pheasant tail. I rigged Lori with a hare and copper nymph below a Y2K and the same weight and strike indicator set at the same depth. I like to start my clients with different flies to see what is working. If I find a trend, I will change to the same rig to maximize success.

“Marilyn had not fished in a few years and felt like she would be a bit rusty. There is nothing further from the truth. I noted that she was an accomplished caster, a competent line handler and was not afraid to set the hook. She picked a nice rainbow on the first drift. As we motored upstream to begin our next drift, we saw Lori on the ramp waiting for us. She hopped in the boat and we began fishing in earnest.
“At the beginning of the day, Marilyn was out-fishing Lori two or three to one. We analyzed the situation and decided to switch Lori’s rod over to a bead-head pheasant tail nymph. That did the trick and Lori was able equal Marilyn’s success. I have not met a lot of fly-fishers, male or female, that could keep up with Lori. They were both pretty competitive and finished the day pretty much even. We broke for lunch and Lori drove home to let out our dogs. I boated upriver to Marilyn’s house so she could let out her dogs. After lunch, we returned to the river. We hit a slow patch for a few minutes but soon enough the bite picked up. We ended the day with 40-plus trout. For Lori, it had been a great day because she had a relaxed easy guide trip and a day away, from an overactive lab puppy and a chance to spend a day with another dog person. For Marilyn, it was great to be back on the river to fish some great water near her home after an absence. For me, it was great to be on the river with two women that could catch fish. I spent the day netting trout. Life is good!”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 688.20 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 573.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-12-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says striper fishing continues to be outstanding Norfork Lake. Tom says he cannot remember when the fishing has been this good. Tom and his son have been bringing in limits of stripers every day they have fished for the last three weeks. Because of the warm water, striper fishing is strictly catch and keep so we only fish until we can a limit and then go home. The AGFC has requested that all persons fishing on Norfork keep all legal stripers and quit when you catch your limit. The basic fishing rig has not changed – a 3- or 4-ounce weight with a short leader and putting the bait on the bottom, then bringing it up about a foot and keeping it there as we move around. The stripers are still concentrated around the dam area; the best places are Dam Cove, Koso, Thumb, Point 1 and the Hudson area. There has been some topwater action in Hand Cove as of late, usually in the early evening. Trolling and spooning are also producing some fish, but not the numbers seen with live bait. This action should continue into August.
Tom says his son took Mike his grandson Cody and Cody’s friend Braxton out for a fast-action striper trip. Tom took Mike and Cody out last year and says they had a great time and caught their limit. Cody did a great job last year in fighting a striper. As usual, the action starts early and is pretty steady the whole time. Right now they are using six downlines and there have been times where four and five rods are hit at the same time. It’s total chaos but a lot of fun. Right before they were finishing up on their limits, Cody’s rod went down and the fight was on because Cody knew how to fight the fish from last year; he handled the fish with ease. When they got it in, it weighed 30 pounds. You could not have a bigger smile on a boy’s face as was on Cody’s. What a way to end their fishing trip. Now he will have a wall mount for a lifetime.

(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 7-12-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that in the past week Norfork Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 17.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 556 feet msl and 6.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had a bit more wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. 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 (size14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10).

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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 7-12-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are higher. 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.