Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 9, 2017

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report August 9, 2017.

White River

(updated 8-9-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says Cotter has seen consistently higher water levels from Bull Shoals Dam this week with little or no drop overnight. The food supply is plentiful for the trout so you need to find something to catch their attention. While this challenging water level might mean the possibility of a smaller fish count, it could also mean the best time to catch is that bigger rainbow or German brown trout you've been angling for. Early morning, is the best time to be on the river with crawdad tails or crawfish crankbaits, cast them nearer the bank in the grassy areas that are underwater now. Add some garlic scent to your shrimp bait and play that near the bank, too. The black or the black-and-orange Zig Jig hooked some nice fish this week. They've seen several days of light rainy weather this week so keep some shiny spinners and stick baits handy for deep water under dark skies. Stay patient and wait for the bite. Enjoy your free time on the river.


(updated 8-9-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the rainbows are good if you can find them. The past week was slow, and rainbows appear to be scattered about in the high water. There a five to eight generators running depending on the time. Clarity of the water is OK. Expect fishing response to be fair.


(updated 8-9-2017) The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 2 feet to rest at 22.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 11.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.4 feet to rest at 0.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 5.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 3.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had no wadable water with heavier generation. 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. Expect a lot of generation with limited wadable water in the near future.
Hopper season is here. Many guides are banging the bank with grasshopper patterns. Add a nymph dropper (ruby midge) to increase takes. If the grasshopper is hit or sinks, set the hook. John’s favorite grasshopper pattern is a Western Pink Lady.

On the White, the hot spot has been the 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 (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.

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, “The most often asked question that both local and out of town anglers ask me is, when will we get wadable water? I understand their concern. We have received precious little this summer. I myself prefer wade fishing and I can count the days that I have been able to wade this summer, on one hand. To say that there is some pent up demand is an understatement.

“Our troubles began in early April. Before that we had some really great wading conditions that had me wading low water several times a week. The out of nowhere we had a series, of major rain events. There was a lot of runoff and the lake levels surged upward. At one time, all of the lakes in the White River System (Beaver, Table Rock, Bull Shoals and Norfork) were over the top of flood pool. The Corps of Engineers open the spill gates, on all of the dams, in an effort to get the dams below flood pool. This resulted, in severe flooding, on the White and Norfork Rivers. Now after four months, of high water, I can see light at the end of the tunnel. The lakes are beginning to drop.

“The White River is a series of lakes. Normal procedures call for the lake level at Table Rock to be dropped first. Today the lake level at table rock is only an inch or two above the top of power pool. That means that all of the water that has been running to draw down Table Rock will not be coming into Bull Shoals Lake. This will allow Bull Shoals to fall more quickly. Beaver is usually down when Bull is near to Power pool. This happens fast.
“Then there is the funnel effect. As the water in a lake falls, the surface area of the lake is reduced. As this occurs the water level, of the lake, falls quicker just like the water, in a funnel. Therefore, as the lake level comes down, it will fall faster, with the same level, of generation.

“In addition, they have increased the level of generation this week. The lake level at Bull Shoals is a bit less than twenty four feet above the top of power pool. The lake level is currently falling about one and a half feet per week. At that rate, it would take about sixteen weeks for Bull Shoals to fall to the top of power pool but with the funnel effect that could be substantially quicker. I predict that Bull Shoals could drop to power pool in ten to twelve weeks. They usually draw down Norfork at about the same rate. That would result in the possibility of wadable water in mid to late October.
“This prediction is based on the same level of generation that we now have and that we do not have a major rain event. I know that that sounds like a long time but it will be here before you know it. In the meantime, the fly fishing from a boat is good some days and excellent on others.”


Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 682.02 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).


(updated 8-9-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said last Friday that the lake is at the 683-foot (msl) level, and the Army Corps of Engineers has been running quite a bit of water trying to get the lake down. Water temps are about 88 degrees give or take a little bit depending on the day. The temperature is finally beginning to come down the last couple of weeks after being in the mid-90s. That being said, fish are in a little bit of a transition. It’s that special time of the year, it’s a little bit tough. There are some bites that are working, though. If you can get out, get out early. There’s a good morning bite still. The first hour of the day is pretty crucial to get out there. There not a whole lot of topwater but there’s a little topwater going on. You can throw a Sammy or throw a Keitech to cover some water. Then, more toward the main lake but starting to go into the major creeks, some of the secondary points, there has been a huge shad migration. You’ll see them, they will look like big sea monsters on your graphs. If you see those, it either is going to be either real good or real bad. It’s a hit-or-miss kind of deal. The fish are schooled up. If you do get into them you can get into them really quick. The best bite for him, Del said, has been a jig bite – dragging a jig during the middle of the day, on bluff ends or long points that go off into the main lake or to the main channel, depending on where you’re at. A green pumpkin with a green pumpkin trailer, with some orange in it, is working. This is a compact jig from Right Bite and it’s good for dragging on the bottom. Green pumpkin blue is working and Del says he’s also doing a little bit of flipping. Friday, he said, was more of a drop-shot day; he was on the river and then was bowfishing later that night. But he has noticed some of the fish moving up shallow. So this time of year he’s going to start flipping more the ledge-style banks, either with a D Bomb, or bug bait, a Green Pumpkin or Green Pumpkin orange. They’ve also still got bushes and trees, as the old shoreline still goes out to about 26 feet. You can parallel the brush piles and old shoreline. Drag a grub or a worm off those points is working. Or, you can parallel the bluffs and do some drop-shotting. Del says he doesn’t particularly stay in one area for too long. It’s that time of year where you’re going to move around a little bit and if you’re on them, you’re on them, you stay there – and, if not, you go to the next spot. The water is perfect for jumping in. The lake level should start coming down in the next couple of weeks. If that happens, these fish with the current will position on the points. If the lake gets these expected major rains over the next couple of weeks, some of the backs of these creeks will starting pulling in some of the shad. It’s early, he says, but when you get a 10-degree temperature drop in the lake, that’s going to get some things moving. Del said he expects things to start picking up as the temperature drops.


(updated 8-9-2017) K Dock Marina said last Friday that the lake is finally on a steady drop of about 4 inches per day. The recent rains have helped cool the surface temperature, making for some much better fishing conditions. Most species are still hanging deep, though. Early morning has produced some decent topwater bites this past week! Anglers should see the walleye bite get better with these temps cooling off. They hope to get back to levels where anglers can bottom bounce nightcrawlers again. Water level was 683.8 feet msl late last week (23.8 feet above normal pool). Water temperature ranged 83-86 degrees, and the water is clear. Black bass are good to fair on heavy jigs, big plastic plum worms and a variety of plastic craws and creature baits. Also hitting on large crankbaits off the points. Try topwater very early morning. Spook or Whopper Plopper. Walleye are fair to slow on medium to large crankbaits. Try trolling a deep-diving crank bait that will go down around 20-25 feet. If you graph them deep, drop a ¾-ounce silver or white spoon. Crappie are fair to slow on live minnows. Bluegill are good on worms in the coves. Small hook and a bobber!

Norfork Lake


As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 567.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-2-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the water level is falling around 2 to 3 inches per day and currently sits at 568.86. The lake is clear to its normal green summer time tint. The surface water temperature has reached 90 degrees, plus or minus a few degrees. Fishing has not changed much over the last couple of weeks, which means the striped bass bite continues to be strong in deep water and all other species are biting in zero to 20 feet of water. When Lou has had the chance to get out, the bite has been strong. Striped bass are being caught from south of Point 2 to the dam and east of the dam to Jordan Island. The larger stripers are being caught in 50 to 70 feet of water. They're lying on the bottom early in the morning and during the day. Live bait is working very well, but several artificial baits also are working. Vertical jigging with a spoon, as well as jigging with a small 3-inch grub (green or off-white) on the bottom. Move your bait very slowly along the bottom. Trollers are picking up some nice stripers, but again you will need to get your bait down below 45 feet. Many nice-sized largemouth bass have been seen in about 3 feet of water early in the morning around the dock. The gravel parking lot is still partially under water and the bait fish and small blue gills are loving it with the warm water. Bass are having a field day feeding at will. Look for those flooded roadways early in the morning and cast out your favorite soft-plastic crayfish imitation or swim bait and you should pick up some nice fish. I am also noting some bass hitting the surface early in the morning as well as at sunset. Walleye fishing has also starting picking up. The best water depth is around 18 feet on large rounded points. Use a crawler harness with a bottom bouncer or drop shot a live minnow to pick up some nice fish. Bluegill also are in the 18-foot water depth range; crickets have been one of the best baits at this time. White bass have been sporadically erupting in the mornings. I have gotten reports from all different areas of the lake with topwater action. There have been some nice-sized hybrids and mid-sized whites coming up and feeding on small shad.

(updated 8-9-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says striper fishing continues to be good. The stripers are continuing to move deeper as the oxygen level gets lower. The thermocline has dropped down to 60 feet and will keep getting lower as the lake level goes lower. One tip is to keep changing your bait. The bait will not live more than 10 minutes right now, so keep changing the bait and you will catch stripers. The other bite is the hybrid on topwater. Lots of limits were caught this past week in the Hand Cove area. You can also catch them trolling if you set your lines between 20-30 feet. Tom says he has been seeing multiple schools of hybrids passing underneath my boat. The shad is staying up the water column that is why the hybrids are feeding on them. 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 keep it there as we move around produces fish. The stripers are still concentrated around the dam area the best places is Dam Cove, Koso, Thumb, Point 1 and the Hudson area. Trolling and spooning is also producing some fish but not the numbers the live bait is. Tom says his son took out his godson Willie along with their close friend’s grandson Logon. The boys are 4 and 5 years old. Willie’s dad, Rick, and Logon’s grandfather Dennis were also along. The boys did very well reeling in their limit of stripers. The fun part of the morning was when one of the boys tooted and all anybody could hear between the laughs was them blowing in their arms making the sounds everybody knows. Tom’s clients watched and were laughing as they caught their fish. Tom says it was one of the funniest days he’s had on the lake in a long time.

Norfork Tailwater


(updated 8-9-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.7 feet to rest at 12.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 11.7 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, there was no 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.


(updated 8-9-2017) Dry Run Creek is fishing well one day and poorly the next. 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 8-9-2017) 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.