Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 19, 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 19, 2017.

White River

(update 7-19-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “It's hot … but the river is cold, brisk, refreshing and inviting. When the early morning mist is on the river, it's a perfect time to lay a line on the water and wait for that first pull on your line. Visit the White River in Arkansas Ozark country and take some time to slow down and enjoy summertime again like a kid.” The water level has returned to a constant flow of two to three generators, so you'll see a swift current in many parts of the river. Keep your bait closer to the bottom and expect the bite nearer the bank. Turn to the old faithful baits: the red-gold Thomas Buoyant Spoon was causing a splash this past week, and the ever-successful shrimp/PowerBait brought in rainbows left and right. That old-timer flat fish No. 4 would be fun to try again right now. Redworms have rewarded lots of anglers in the afternoon when the flow from the dam increases. Stay cool and stay hydrated, and keep fishing. See you at the river.


(update 7-19-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said 1,500 rainbow trout were stocked Wednesday morning. The river level has been normal to love, with 2-6 generators running at various times. Clarity is fair. Anglers are fishing both on the bank and with boats and having excellent success. Trout will be great on shrimp and pink worms.


(update 7-19-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that last week they had no rain, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 0.1 feet to rest at 26.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.1 feet msl. This is 6.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 feet to rest at 3.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 10.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 6.7 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.9 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had wadable water with moderate generation. 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 (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 bead-head pheasant tail nymph (size 14) with a ruby midge suspended below it). Use lots of lead and long leaders to get your flies down.
Berry added, “If you have checked the river levels for the last few days you have probably noticed that they are much lower. I figure that they are not running much water right now because of flooding downstream. This is a temporary respite from heavy generation. One of the big advantages of living here is that we can take advantage of great conditions. Last Friday was such a day. The forecast was for a cool morning and a hot afternoon. The sky was sunny, the winds were to be light and variable and there was to be low generation (about 2,500 cfs or 2/3 of a full generator). This is a great level to fish from the boat at Rim Shoals. The fish are still concentrated in the main channels and you do not have to use heavy weight, long leaders or big strike indicators.

“I asked my wife, Lori, if she would join me for a morning on the river. She quickly agreed. She had been very busy with our new puppy, Ghillie, and had not fished on her own (not guiding) much recently. We arrived at Rim Shoals at 9:30 a.m. and took a couple of my client rods and quickly changed them for the water conditions. We stripped off the heavy AAA split shot and put on a lighter BB shot. We adjusted the strike indicator for shallower water. Lori kept the Y2K and hare and copper fly on her rod. I kept the pheasant tail nymph and tied on a ruby midge dropper.

“We began catching trout immediately. It was evident from the start that the ruby was out-fishing all of the other flies, three or four to one. We stopped fishing for a while so that Lori could re-rig her rod to swap out the hare and copper dropper for a ruby midge dropper. This is standard procedure for us. We always begin fishing together with different rigs so that we can quickly determine what is working. It only took us two drifts to key in on the ruby midge.
“We had been doing OK, but now we were on fire. We were catching trout after trout. I didn’t keep up with the number of trout caught but did note that we had seven doubles in our two hours of fishing. About 11:30 a.m., Lori decided to return home to check on the puppy. She had caught plenty of trout. I stayed and fished for another hour and probably picked up another dozen trout. It had been one of my best days ever on the river. To be able to share it with Lori made it special. We had caught some perfect conditions and moved to take advantage. When you get an opportunity like, this take it!”



Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 681.16 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).


(update 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.


(update 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 572.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).


(update 7-19-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake striped bass fishing has been really good for the last month and should continue for some time. Lou says he has been spending most of his fishing time catching stripers. Lou’s daughter and granddaughter have been visiting and they have been having a blast. It is so much fun watching young fishermen and women take to the sport, he says. Lou has been keying in on striped bass in 55-65 feet of water on the bottom. This is where he has been finding the bigger fish. He has caught a few suspended fish down 40-50 feet in deeper water, but they seem to be the smaller fish. Live bait has been working exceptionally well, but artificial baits are also picking up some good fish. For artificial baits use a 1-ounce spoon and vertical-jig it off of the bottom, or if you see suspended fish reel up to them and jig at their depth. Trollers are also picking up some nice fish. The trollers are mainly using swimbaits with 4-6 ounces of weight attached to the line with a snap-on weight. If you have a downrigger, get your bait down to 50-60 feet of water. The best places to start looking for stripers is on main lake points, especially the points that go out well into the lake. Fish the edges of the point where it drops off to 60 feet of water, plus or minus 10 feet. As the sun comes up, go out a little deeper. The main area to find the stripers is south of Point 2 to the dam, then east of the dam toward Jordan Island.

Lou says largemouth bass fishing has been up and down. The best place to look for them is back in the creeks. If you can find a stand of trees that are out in 10-15 feet of water, there will be lots of bass in the area. One good place to fish for largemouth is back in Pigeon Creek where there is a large grove of trees in the water. Crankbaits, soft plastics and tube jigs are good choices to use for your bass fishing. Crappie appear to be scattered though out the sunken shoreline. Live bait is a good choice, or small jig casted into the brush and bringing them out slowly. Norfork Lake level is currently 572.54 feet above sea level and falling a little more than 2 inches per day. The main lake is clearing nicely and the creeks and coves are still somewhat stained. The lake surface water temperature was 86-87 degrees early Wednesday morning.


(update 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.

Norfork Tailwater


(update 7-19-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at 17.5 feet feet above seasonal power pool of 556 feet and 6.8 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had a bit more wadable water. 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 eighteen 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 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


(update 7-19-2017) 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. 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.