Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 30, 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 30, 2017.

White River

(update 8-30-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said that if ever you wanted to be on the river, now is the time. Mother Nature has blessed the arear with a fantastically mild August weather: sunshine, low(er) humidity, temperatures in the low to mid-80s. Breathtaking and gorgeous. Water levels have decreased just a little, but remain in the 15,000 cfs range (four to five generators running). Moving out of a new moon, the bite will possibly slow down a little as the cycle progresses but not enough to notice if you're luring the trout with the right stuff. Orange and black jigs have proven successful, as have rogues and stick baits with orange bellies, black backs, and silver sides. Swim them mid-depth. Orange and/or yellow PowerBait still catches rainbows, and the catch has been of a nice size and color. Our hearts and prayers are with our friends in Texas.

(update 8-30-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water level is high and there are six to seven generators running 24/7. A few rainbows were caught in the past week but the catches were in high water. Otherwise, fishing is very slow. Sportsman’s rates it fair for the week.

(update 8-30-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, they had a rain event (just a trace in Cotter), unseasonably cool temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals as of last weekend had dropped 3 feet to rest at 15 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 19 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 rose 0.2 feet to rest at 5.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.8 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, there was no wadable water with heavy generation. 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 catch-and-release section at Bull Shoals Dam. 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 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 says, “One way to improve your fishing is to keep a fishing journal. The idea is to write down all the applicable information pertaining to the day you spent fishing. That way you have a reference for planning your next day on the river. My friend Mike has been recording all of his days on the water in a leather fishing journal for years. If he cannot get on the water, he reviews the log to relive memorable days fishing. I maintain my journal on my computer and refer to it often. I use it to prepare for upcoming days on the river, and I refer to it when writing about my day on the river.

“I always record the weather. I like to know the high and low temperature, whether it is sunny or overcast, how windy it was, any type of precipitation on that day or the previous one and if a major front comes through. I also record what I wear, if it is particularly hot, cold or wet. I follow up this with a notation of how that worked out. Did I need another layer or did my feet get cold or wet?

“I take a bit of time to record the water conditions. This affects the quality of the fishing more than anything. I always record where I was fishing and how much water they were running. If there was a big push, what time did it reach where I was fishing and how did it affect the catch? I always record that in cubic feet per second because that is the most precise measurement. I will make a note about the most productive spots that I fished.
“Several guides and anglers that I know fish with a clicker and carefully record each and every fish that they catch. They then record this and even tally up how many trout they catch in a year. This is more like accounting to me than fishing. If I wanted to keep up with a bunch of numbers, I would still be a CPA. I will post an estimate on a really productive day.

“What I am more interested in is to record the catching of an interesting trout. When I land a nice brook or a Bonneville cutthroat, I make a note of it. A big brown or a rainbow is also noted. I always record the fly I used and exactly where it was caught. I always note what the most productive fly was on that day.
“Finally I write down anything out of the ordinary that happened on that particular day. I once observed 14 deer swim the White River at Rim Shoals. On another day, I had to stop my car to allow a flock of turkeys (over 50 birds) cross the road as I was driving into the Dam Three Access on the Spring River.

“My most memorable experience was when I watched Dave Whitlock and Flip Pallot film a television show (an episode of the “Walker’s Cay Chronicles”) at Rim Shoals. It was fascinating just to watch the process. I was amazed to watch Dave’s ability with a dry fly. The most interesting thing was that I had walked by that stretch of water for decades and never stopped to fish it. I now fish there any chance that I get. It is now one of my favorite spots to fish dry flies.

“I have been keeping a journal for almost 20 years and really enjoy the process. It has been a great source of information of past trips and has made me a better fly-fisher. I think that it can do the same for you.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 673.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(update 8-23-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said they’ve still got 23 extra feet of water in the lake. The Army Corps of Engineers is bringing it down. The fishing is starting to pick up pretty good this week. Del said they had some weather move in and the cold nights have got the fish moving around quite a bit. They’re schooling really hard. “I’m going to let the cat out of the back,” Dell said, saying that he’s starting to catch them really shallow. The baitfish is starting to move in to the backs of some of the creeks that have runoff coming into them. If you can find a temperature change of a degree or two, those areas will be better than the ones that are more pockets. There are threadfins back there, there are gizzards back there. Del says that’s the hot bite he likes, catching them back there. He’s used a squarebill, just burning it through 0-4 feet of water; he says it “seems like you have to bump that thing into something to get bit. “There are a lot of what they call bushes that are out on the flats now, and he’s starting to pick up a few fish on a frog. The topwater bite seems like it’s been hit or miss, so you want to have one ready to go. Del says he did pick up a few on the Whopper Plopper. He says he’s not doing so hot on the walk-the-dog style baits; he’s tried Spook or a Sammy and will I’ll pick up a few, but the bigger bite seems to be on the Whopper Plopper. Also, as the fish start to migrate into these creeks, they’re going to use these channels, so wherever that old channel comes up along the bank, you can do right with a jig there. If it’s super windy, throw a War Eagle Spinnerbait, either Blue Shad or Sexy Shad or Mouse, depending on the color of the water – it varies throughout the lake, they’ve had quite a bit of water traffic lately. The clay banks with the boat traffic, those are really dirty, he said. If you get some wind in there, those fish will be in there and you can pull a few out with a spinnerbait. The ledges, 25 feet is about as deep as Del has been having to fish and most of the fish he’s been catching 10-15 feet of water – a lot of times less – he’s throwing a half-ounce Right Bite Jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue, whatever the angler prefers. The NetBait Paca-Craw Senior in either green pumpkin or summer craw, that seems to be getting quite a few fish, he said. When going in the back water areas, because they have a lot of structure in the high water, if you can find the pole timber of the trees, Del will throw a Strike King Rage Tail Structure Bug in there. That will help you pick up a few more fish. Conditions are everything, he says. If you’ve got wind, if you have a quality day, you can power fish with a spinnerbait or topwater. And watch for baitfish. If you get into some fish, you can get right back in there; a lot of times you’ll catch 2-3 fish in the same little area. They’re schooled up pretty hard. Del says he caught two on a squarebill the other day on the same cast. He also likes to cover some water. It seems to be more productive – points, channel swings, not very deep. Smallmouth are out a little deeper. The drop-shot bite has been so intermittent, and the weather is changing, so he says he’s going to stick to the shallow fish. The fishing is going to get even better – these rains come, it cools down, the shorter days, it’s a great time to be on the lake. Water temps are about 84-85 degrees so it’s starting to come down.

(update 8-23-2017) K Dock Marina said the lake is continuing to drop about 4-5 inches per day. This has had a big impact on the number of fish being caught. Fish do not react well to extreme changes in water level. Water color and temp are great, just a slow bite for all species. Live bait working the best right now. Hope to get a better report from some of our anglers after this weekend. Water level is 20 feet above normal as of last weekend. Water temperature ranging 80-82 degrees. Water is clear to stained.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 563.55 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-30-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says striper fishing on Norfork Lake continues to be slow, but they have been able to catch limits each time they’ve fished. With the bad weather in Texas, the Southwestern Power Administration has been generating power 24 hours a day, and that has helped lower the lake and keeping an active striper bite. Tom says the main reason they have been catching stripers is they continue to use their electronics to keep on the fish and what depth they are holding at. If you are live-bait fishing you must stay glued to your locator and keep presenting your baits in front of the fish. Yesterday, Tom’s son Sean did not have a bite for the first two hours. He finally figured out what they wanted and had his clients limits in 45 minutes. One troller is doing very well. He is using a crankbait with downriggers and been catching his clients a limit each day. Right now it's about fresh bait and keeping the bait in front of the fish. The stripers are now concentrated around the dam area. For you out-of-area folks, you might want to get your calendars out and start making plans now. The stripers are in their summer pattern now, but the fall bite is coming up fast, so start you’re planning for some great fall fishing. A good tool to use to make your plans with is on the web at for everything Norfork Lake! For a real outdoor adventure, you might consider a striper fishing trip combined with a pheasant hunt. It's a blast!

(update 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.

Norfork Tailwater

(update 8-30-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet by last weekend to rest at 9.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 15.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had no wadable water. 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 spring 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. 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

(update 8-30-2017) 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.