Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 16, 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 16, 2017.

White River

(updated 8-16-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says there is definitely the feel of autumn in the air; maybe it's because school has started here in Arkansas, our Big Spring swimming hole is less crowded and the squeak of the rope swing doesn't sound until later in the day. Time seems to slow during these last couple of weeks of August. How does all that affect fishing and why should we care? The shorter days affect the amount of light, which spurs the spawn, drawing the trout to move upriver and begin the reproduction dance. The browns are less interested in what you have to offer than at other times, so you have to be more creative. The brown trout spawn won't seriously begin until October or later, but it's time to start planning. The tailwaters below Bull Shoals Dam continue to be very high and still offer prime opportunities for stick baits, or lures of all kinds. If you've got any big Husky Jerks, silver and black, try them out. They’ve had some luck this week with white and white-gray jigs. Minnow look-alikes will help you succeed; add some garlic scent to whatever your favorite bait is and gauge the reaction. Fishing is all about keeping track of what worked when. Don't forget to look around and thank the Creator for the beauty of our Natural State and the blessing of a good day on the river. Go catch a rainbow.

(updated 8-16-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is clear and the river is high with 5-10 generators running. The trout bite is good. Anglers report good fishing from the boats for rainbows and browns.

(updated 8-16-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said late last week that they had a trace of rain in Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 2.3 feet to rest at 20.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is 13.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock remained steady at 0.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at 5.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 3.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had no wadable water with heavy 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. We should 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 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 (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.
John also reported, “Last Thursday (Aug. 3) I participated in the Bull Shoals/Norfork Trout Management Plan Workshop. It was held at the Sheid Center on the Arkansas State University Mountain Home campus. The idea was to update the state’s Trout Management Plan that was first implemented about 10 years ago. I participated in that plan and am interested in the outcome of this one. The meeting was designed to get input from the public.
“There were over 100 attendees at the meeting. They were mostly fishing guides, resort owners and other concerned parties. I knew most of them. There was also a large contingent from the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission that included two commissioners. We were seated at over a dozen round tables in the room. We were asked to list on large sheets of paper our likes and dislikes. We had a sheet titled Bull Shoals Likes, Bull Shoals Dislikes, Norfork Likes and Norfork Dislikes. We were then asked to indicate our top two items on each sheet.
“There was a lot of discussion at our table, and I am sure that the same thing happened at every table. We had eight people and each had different opinions about what was a like or dislike. There was even more discussion when we had to choose the two most important items for each sheet. When there was a major disagreement we took a simple vote and the item with the most votes won.
The moderator then went around the room and asked for the top two likes and dislikes for both tailwaters, which were then written down on another set of four sheets, configured just like the sheets on each table. After completion those summary sheets were then hung on the wall. All of the sheets from the various tables were collected for future reference. We were the asked to vote on what items interested us the most. We were given six stickers and asked to put them on the items listed on the sheets on the wall that we most cared about, either likes or dislikes. They asked that we use three stickers for each river. This took a little time because all of the attendees had to vote.
“In looking and listening, I heard that the most generally approved like was the 24-inch size limit on brown trout. This was a product from the last Trout Management Plan, which requires that all brown trout below 24 inches in length be released. The result of this change has been that we have more brown trout in the below 24-inch size, including many that are 19, 20, 21, 22 and 23 inches long. This is a great fish anywhere and it is very popular here with all anglers.
“At the same time, the general consensus is that there is no protection for rainbow trout. As a result, we do not have many large rainbows in our streams. Many groups suggested a protective slot limit. This would allow rainbow trout below a given length (say, 16 inches) and above a given length (say, 24 inches) to be harvested. The trout between the two sizes would be released resulting in more rainbows in the 16-23-inch slot. I really like this idea.
“The follow-up meeting will be Aug. 24, where we will review the findings and see where to go from there. It will be held at the same time and place. I hope to attend.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 679.26 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 566.39 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-16-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is in its summer pattern and fishing methods should be very similar for the next month. The lake level is falling slowly and currently sits about 11 feet above normal pool. The surface water temperature is ranging 82-85 degrees depending the time of day. The main lake looks fairly clear with the creeks and coves stained. The striped bass bite continues to be good for most out on the lake. The easiest and most productive method of catching stripers at this time is with live bait. Live threadfin shad, shiners and small bluegills are all working well, with shad being the best type of live bait. Lou says he’s currently finding large schools of stripers lying on the bottom in 70 feet of water. The best areas to find the stripers at this time are on points and large deep flats in the dam area and at the start of the Big Creek area (Long Point, Koso, Thumb, Point 1, Hudson) and also on the flats out in front of Sand Island in the Jordan area. Artificial baits are also producing striped bass. Try vertical jigging with a spoon or a 3-inch (or so) grub with a ¼- or 3/8-ounce jighead. If you're jigging, keep the action of your bait moving slow, use small twitches of the bait and work them slowly on the bottom. It is hard to feel the bite, so be ready to set the hook with the slightest heaviness of your line while moving the bait. Trolling swimbaits and 4- or 5-inch crankbaits are also producing some fish.
Lou says a second area to catch hybrid bass and the occasional striped bass is in 25 feet (plus or minus 5 feet) of water. The lake thermocline is roughly at 25 feet with good oxygenated water from the shoreline out to 25 feet with about 80-84 degree water temperature throughout this water column. Most of the bait fish he’s found are in this 0-25 feet range, so as you would guess it is holding lots of fish. Lou has found some schooling hybrids in the mid-lake area in the 25-feet range feeding on shad. With this shallower water, all types of artificial baits will work. Lou said a friend who was trolling deep-diving crankbaits ran into schools of nice striped bass on points in the mid-lake area.
The walleye bite is getting good. Most walleye are being caught in 18-25 feet of water on the bottom. Trolling a crawler harness with bottom bouncing weights are catching some nice fish, as are deep-diving crankbaits such as a Flicker Shad. If you're using crankbaits, use about a 4-inch minnow imitating crank. If you just have shallow-diving cranks, you can always add some inline weight to get your bait down to the 20-feet level. Lou says he’s always had the best luck when the bill of the crank digs into the bottom of the lake a little. Walleye are showing up all over the main lake, including points and large flats. He has used threadfin shad set on the bottom and have picked up a few walleye. He has also caught walleye while striper fishing in 70 feet of water. Yesterday he did not land any walleye, but on four different occasions he set my hook on a light bite to bring up only his weight and leader with no hook. Lou says he would guess that he was getting numerous walleye bites.
Panfish are also ranging 0-25 feet of water. If you can find some brush pile in 20-25 of water, you will find some crappie, but most are roaming the flooded shoreline trees feeding on shad. Crickets are working well for bluegills in the shallow water.
Catfish are showing up at all depths. Lou says he has caught cats in 70 feet of water when striper fishing, as well as in 20 feet of water while walleye fishing. They are roaming all over the lake.
Lou adds, “A week ago I had a family that love to bowfish. I sent them over to a point in the Cranfield area and they had a blast. The best part of this group is that they clean and eat what they shoot. I have never eaten gar before, but they tell me they are excellent eating as long as they are cleaned properly. I took a cleaning lesson one afternoon when they were cleaning their catch and saw that you end up getting a nice white fillet with no bones after you are done. I guess I will have to try cleaning one next time I land a gar. I typically cut the line and release them when I do catch one.

(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 8-16-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet last week to rest at 11.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 13.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had no wadable water and the water was 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 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).

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 8-16-2017) 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.