Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 26, 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 26, 2017.

White River

(updated 7-26-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the river belongs to kids during late July; there's nothing better than seeing young ones catch their first fish. Luckily, it's been pretty easy this past week to be part of helping a kid catch a trout: chartreuse (or almost any color) PowerBait, all by itself, has brought lots of rainbows to the shore or boat and smiles to young anglers' faces. Get to the river as early as you can while it's still cool and the water level is relatively low to enjoy the best of the day. They continue to see late-afternoon water level increases, so change your technique and your bait when you detect the first rise. Weighted line and worms (nightcrawlers, red wigglers, bubblegum pink or San Juan) will help. Drift-fishing is almost required. Favorite spoon this week: silver and blue Cleo. Favorite fly this week has been the silver and red midge. Stay cool and keep fishing!

(updated 7-26-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said rainbow catches are still good since the most recent stocking. However, it is “pretty hot” there and not a lot of boat fishing is going on. River level is normal and the water is clear.

(updated 7-26-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last week that they had no rain here in Cotter over the previous week, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 1.3 feet to rest at 25.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 8.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 feet to rest at 2.7 feet above seasonal power pool and 11.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 6.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had no wadable water with moderate generation. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 16.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 8.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had less wadable water. On the White, the hot spot has been the Narrows. 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 size 14 bead-head pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge suspended below it). Use lots of lead and long leaders to get your flies down.

John also said, “[Last] Monday, I guided a couple, Kevin and Mary, from Kansas. They were experienced outdoors people but had never fly-fished. I began the day with a short casting lesson. They took to it quickly and a few minutes later I launched my White River jon boat and we began fishing. It was a cool start that morning, with a beginning temperature of 69 degrees, but a promise of a 91-degree high. There was a heavy fog on the river, and there were few clouds against a blue sky. The Corps of Engineers was running about 6,000 cfs, or a bit less than two full generators.
“I had rigged them slightly differently. Mary got a bead-head pheasant tail nymph below a cerise San Juan worm with an AAA split shot and a strike indicator set at about 8 feet from the bottom fly to the strike indicator. I gave Kevin the same rig, except that he got a hot fluorescent pink worm. We had only drifted a few hundred yards when Mary hit her first trout. It put on quite a struggle. When I finally got a good look at it, I quickly realized that it was a big brown. I carefully coached Mary on how to land the trophy trout. In a few minutes, the brown was in the net. I was amazed. It was a stout 24-inch hook jawed male. This was the best first trout that I had ever witnessed. Usually, when a new angler hooks something like this early on the first day, they try to rush the fight and horse the fish in, resulting in a lost fish. Mary, however, took her time and deftly landed it. We took a few photos and lovingly released it.
“She went, on a tear, catching one trout after another. Meanwhile, Kevin was fishless. He was casting well and was definitely getting some good drifts. I thought that there had to be some difference in their presentation. I figured out that they were using different lead flies. Kevin was using a hot fluorescent pink San Juan worm while Mary was fishing with a cerise San Juan worm. Would having the two anglers fish slightly different shades of pink really make a difference? I decided to find out. I switched Kevin over to a cerise San Juan worm with a bead-head pheasant tail nymph dropper so that he was rigged exactly like Mary.

“Halfway through the next drift, Kevin hit a good trout. This was just the beginning. He went on a tear, catching trout after trout. Mary was not idle. She continued her success and even landed a fat 20-inch rainbow. However, by the end of the day Kevin had probably landed as many trout as Mary had. We finished the day with about 40 trout. It had been a great first day! Sometimes the slightest change can make a difference.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 686.18 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-26-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report.

(updated 7-26-2017) K Dock Marina said the lake is slowly starting to drop, but the surface temperature is really going up! They’re seeing most people fishing early and late evening to avoid the heat. Not a lot of trolling right now. All species are slow due to high water and temperature. Water level going into last weekend was 687 feet msl and falling (27 feet above normal). Water temperature was ranging 88 to 92 degrees. Water is clear.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 570.41 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 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.

(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.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-26-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the water pm 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 7-26-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. 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.