Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 30, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 30, 2018.

White River

(updated 5-30-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says Bull Shoals Lake is 10 feet above power pool and Cotter is experiencing some late afternoon spikes in water levels attributable to generation from Bull Shoals Dam. Morning levels have been just at two-thirds of one generator, 2,500 cfs – a little high for most wade fishing, enough to drift in a boat or anchor over a favorite hole. They continue to see success with the blue/silver and the red/gold Thomas Buoyant Spoons. Small Maribou Jigs and the 1/8-ounce White River Zig Jig, mostly tri-olive and olive/ginger, are producing nice catches of trout. The browns are loving sculpins; stick to mid-sized (1½ to 2 inches) sculpins. There have been some hefty hatches giving our fly anglers a run; try the super midge and some sparkling caddis flies. Keep angling. See you at the river.

(updated 5-30-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river is clear in the mornings and mossy by the afternoons. The generation from the dam is low in the mornings and high in the afternoon, hence the clarity variance. Overall the river level is low. The trout bite is fair. Use waxworms with marshmallows or PowerBait.

(updated 5-30-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week they had a few rain events that combined for about three-quarters of an inch here in Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.4 feet to rest at 10.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 22.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 feet to rest at 0.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.7 feet to rest at 5.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had less generation and more wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. With the rise in the lakes due to our recent heavy rains, we can expect more generation in the near future.
The White has fished much better. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. There are caddis coming off. 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 red fox squirrel nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
John also said, “The longer I fly fish the more I enjoy fishing dry flies. There is nothing like the feeling of the tug of the trout when you set the hook on a riser. We get some truly great fishing here but there is precious little topwater action. Tailwaters like ours have constantly changing flows that make fishing dry flies difficult at best. The best time to fish dry flies is when the rivers are on the bottom. The key is to get the right water flows, the right place (the hatch does not occur everywhere on the river at the same time) and the right time.
“We basically have two major hatches, caddis and sulphurs, here on our trout streams. The caddis come first, arriving in March and lasting until May. There are still a few to be seen. I observed a few yesterday at Rim Shoals. I went out several times this spring but I never caught the caddis hatch full on. I have great hopes to catch the sulphurs.
“Last year I had a spectacular day fishing the sulphurs. I was guiding two experienced anglers. We were wade fishing at Rim Shoals and looking for topwater action. In the morning, we fished the upper shoal at the walk in access and did well with one angler fishing dry flies and another swinging partridge and orange soft hackles.
“After lunch we walked the trail along the river down to the third river access. This access features a rock shelf that extends almost all of the way across the river. There is a large pool just upstream of the shelf. There was a prolific hatch with loads of trout rising to them. The surface of the pool was mirror-like with a gentle current. There was not a cloud in the sky and little if any wind. Conditions were perfect to fish dries. We could stand in the ankle deep water on the shelf and get a drag-free drift over the rising trout. We landed several great trout on dries.
“With the sulphurs due to arrive at any time, I am constantly on the water looking for them. They are a yellowish orange mayfly in size 14. I use a sulphur parachute to imitate the adult insect.
“Before the hatch I fish a pheasant tail nymph under a strike indicator to imitate the sulphur nymphs. I prefer a fly with a copper bead tied on a factory barbless jig hook.
“When I notice the cliff swallows working the surface of the river, or I see fish rising but do not see any insects, I switch over to a partridge and orange soft hackle. I tie these on a Tiemco 102Y size 15 hook. Then I actually see rising trout taking adult insects off the surface.
“The secret is a proper presentation. The fly should land gently on the water. There should be a perfect drag free float down to the rising trout. Wait a second before setting the hook to allow the trout to close its mouth. This is the hardest part for me and I frequently lose the first trout because of this.
“They are on the way. Get out there and catch the hatch.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 672.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 5-24-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday that they expect a big Memorial Day weekend coming up with everyone scrambling to get out for the weekend. Lake level is at 672 feet msl. Bull Shoals Lake is still about 13 feet over normal poo. There are lots of bushes in the water still, the fish are pretty much post-spawn. It's been a fun week for topwater. There’s a couple different things that are working depending on the conditions. You can still throw a spinnerbait. Spinnerbaits are working in the backs off secondary points off the spawning flat. Most of the fish seem to be cruising the flats right now. They're in wolf packs, they're going into where the perch have been spawning. Del says he’s starting to catch a few on a popper. If you get around isolated cover laydowns, trees, anything of that nature, you can throw that around there. The big loud topwaters, the one knockers, those are working well. There's nothing better than topwater if you're going to be on the water. Del says he’s picking a few up also on a frog, so some of those fish are pretty shallow, obviously, and as you're going through fishing those spawning flights you want to make sure look for a little bit of dirty water, a little bit of wind is definitely going to help. The temperature is actually warmer in the back and on the flats, but those fish are in there seeking revenge on the sunfish.
Del says that he’s also throwing a Senko around still, and a wacky rig seems to be still catching a few fish on that. Those fish are in the bushes. He’s pulling some fish also still on the Keitech with the Flashy. If you move out toward the main lake, hit all the points, everything that's got wind on it, and you're going to run into them. The topwater bite’s really good during the early morning, so if you want to get out early you can get in on the topwater bite. That goes strong for about half-hour, 45 minutes, but then it picks back up. It’ll be random throughout the day, so have it ready the whole time. If you want to go after a big fish, you can catch a few on the Whopper Plopper and a buzzbait. Those are working, those are two good big-fish baits. Del adds that he won't be on the lake this weekend, as he’ll be bowfishing, but it should be great the next couple of weeks. The topwater should get going, and he said he’s starting to pick up the drop-shot rod. As it starts getting real hot, Del said, he’ll be doing half-day trips before too long. Next week, Bull Shoals Boat Dock as its Big John Bass Tournament championship. You can check out Del’s regularly posted videos on Youtube, just search for Del Colvin or Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock. “Have a safe Memorial Day weekend, guys,” Del says.

(updated 5-25-2018) K Dock Marina said the fish are biting. They have 82-degree water with great lake conditions. All species are hitting right now. The lake level last Friday was 672.2 feet msl (13 feet above normal). Water is clear. Black bass are good on topwater plugs and buzzbaits. Also good on medium crankbaits and jigs. Small plastics in flooded brush in the backs of coves are working. The plastic worm bite is coming soon. Walleye are good to great on small to medium crankbaits. They are really shallow right now, less than 10 feet. They are also hitting spoons and nightcrawlers. Crappie are good to fair on live minnows and swimming minnows. The crappie are scattered post-spawn down the shoreline and in coves around brush.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 564.41 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 5-30-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the holiday weekend was a very busy time for Norfork Lake. There were many anglers out on the lake catching plenty of fish. Others were enjoying the great weather by playing in the warm, clean and clear water of Norfork Lake. It appeared that all of their guests had a great time and no one wanted to leave. The striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass bite has been outstanding for the last couple of weeks. There has been plenty of topwater action for all of these species. The best time for topwater action starts at sunrise, lasts for a couple of hours and then happens again at sunset. You may need to move around to find the white water, but they are coming up all over the lake at various locations and depths. If you only see one fish come up and you are close enough, cast a topwater lure because there will be more in the area and they will come up for your bait. Tuesday, Lou said, he fished in a major creek and had a fantastic time, landing eight stripers and hybrids using live threadfin shad. They were exploding on his free swimming baits and were also hitting baits that he had on with a 1/8-ounce split shot. Lou was moving slowly with his trolling motor about 1/2 mile an hour. He started fishing along a shoreline in 30 feet of water and started to catch hybrids. He then moved out to 60 feet of water and started to catch stripers. Swimbaits and Alabama rigs are also working well to catch these fish. Lou is starting to mark big arcs suspended down 20-50 feet, so the stripers are starting to move down to the cooler water. As the water continues to warm, the topwater action for the stripers will stop and then restart in the fall when the water starts to cool. “The fish that I cleaned today were full of crawdads, telling me they are feeding close to shore at some point during the day. The moon is full so I would assume they are feeding heavily at night,” Lou said.
Lou says the largemouth and smallmouth bass bites are still very good. Topwater baits, flukes and jerkbaits are all catching nice fish. In the mornings, work the shallow water that has sunken buckbrush. As the sun gets higher, move out to about 10-20 feet of water and work the bottom with your plastics. Bluff line points are holding some nice smallmouth bass. On occasion you will find the bass out in deep water feeding on the surface, and topwater baits will work great. The walleye bite has also been good. They are being found inside the sunken buckbrush as well as along deep bluff line where the channel is making a swing. Jerkbaits, swimbaits and casting spoons are all working. The crappie bite has been fantastic under docks in the middle of the day and also after dark. Small jigs and spoons are catching fish as well as small minnows. The fish appear to be from 15 feet down up to the surface. The Norfork Lake level is falling about 3 inches per day with constant power generation. The current lake level is 564.59 feet msl. The surface water temperature is on the rise and was in the low 80s Tuesday morning. The main lake is clear with some of the coves slightly stained.

(updated 5-30-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the fishing on Norfork Lake is on fire for the first two hours each morning. The stripers have moved off the banks and are roaming the deep channels in water depths ranging 50-150 feet. Tom says they are seeing each day the stripers now feeding on crawdads early and moving off the bottom and starting to chase shad once light appears. After the first two hours the fishing slows down and by the third hour it's over. In normal years you then would move to the flats and catch them feeding on the bottom, but that has not started. The lake is warming to now around 82 degrees and a thermocline has started. Each day they are seeing less topwater striper action. By the end of the week, Tom says, he does not expect to see any stripers feeding shallow. Right now they are catching them on weighted floats set a 30 and 38 feet, long lines with split shots set back 100 feet from the boat, and planer boards with the bait 20 feet behind the board. They have caught limits each day for the last 10 days, so now is a very good time to get on the lake. The stripers are moving down the lake as the water warms up. You should now find them at Robinson Point in the 40-50 feet of water near the bottom and in the deeper areas of Big Creek. The stripers will be feeding on crawdads. Start very shallow, then continue to move out till you find them. This pattern will occur all over the lake as the water continues to warm.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 5-30-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.2 feet to rest at 8.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.7 feet msl and 14.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and more wadable water. The water is has cleared substantially and has fished much better. There have been some nice caddis hatches that have fished well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during flooding in the past year. 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 red fox squirrel nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has cleared and is fishing better. 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). 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 soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 5-30-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. The smallmouths are 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.