Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 20, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report June 20, 2018.

White River

(updated 6-20-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The heat is on and the water is big to mirror our catch.” Best spot this past week was Wildcat Shoals and might prove to be even better in the weeks to come if the fishing pressure decreases there due to closure of the access ramp. The AGFC has closed the ramp access for a couple of months as they repair and improve the area and the parking lot. You'll enjoy the new ramp access when completed; previous ramp improvements have been very nice. “Last week we saw some good-sized rainbows reeled in as well as some keeper browns,” they report. The rainbows have been biting hard on pink worms and frozen shrimp. This strategy has also netted a few big brown but the best bet to catch a lunker has been river minnows or lures with a sliver flash to them; also try some rogues with orange bellies and red eyes. The water has been staying high and swift, but that may soon change. Bull Shoals Lake is starting to approach its normal level for the season and the generation may change and with it the fishing style.

(updated 6-20-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the it remains quite hot as far as air temperature, but anglers will find the water just right. Clarity is now clear, but there is a lot of water as eight generators have been running round-the-clock. Trout fishing has been fair.

(updated 6-20-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said late last week that during the previous week, that had a rain event producing about half an inch in Cotter, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.4 feet to rest at 6.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 27.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool and 13.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.8 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 5.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. 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 above the top of power pool. With warmer weather and increased power demand for air conditioning, we can expect more generation in the near future particularly in the afternoons. With warmer weather and increased power demand for air conditioning, we can expect more generation in the near future, particularly in the afternoons. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals (this access is closed for repairs). There are sulphurs 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 size 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 says, “Last Friday I guided two doctors from Kansas City. My wife, Lori, was in Memphis conducting a casting seminar for the Mid South Fly Fishers, our old fishing club. At the same time I had some contractors renovating my sunroom with new doors and windows. It was nice to get away from that project and spend a day on the river with a couple of nice guys, Mike and Adam.
“It promised to be a great day with moderate temperatures, light and variable winds, good flows of water and an ever so slight chance of rain. Adam was a more experienced angler and a decent fly-caster. True to form he caught the first three trout, including a really fat 18-inch rainbow.
“I had initially rigged their rods with different flies. This is standard procedure for me. That way I can try several likely suspects and zero in on the most productive fly rather quickly. I switched Mike over to the ruby midge dropper that Adam had caught the three trout on. It was a game changer! All of a sudden Mike began catching trout. He quickly passed Adam’s count. We fished those rigs for the rest of the day and caught all but one trout on the ruby midge. It has been my most productive fly for the past few years.
“We stopped for lunch about noon. We were disappointed to note that one of the picnic tables at the Rim Shoals ramp had been destroyed during a wind storm a few weeks ago and there were no picnic tables available for us to sit and have lunch. Luckily a young guide from Cotter Trout Dock was cooking a shore lunch and loaned me a roll up table. It was greatly appreciated.
“After lunch, we returned to the river. Mike was on fire. He had a spurt of success that went on for a while. He mostly caught rainbows but managed to land a nice brown that fought like a demon. As we continued to fish, the sky got progressively darker. We began to hear rumbles of distant thunder. I tried to pull up my weather app on my iPhone but was unsuccessful. It was near the end of the day and I did not want to get caught in a storm. I decided to fish near the ramp so I could pull off quickly. My clients were in total agreement as they had not brought rain gear with them.
“About 3:55 I felt the first rain drop. Quitting time is normally 4 p.m. Mike and Adam were eager to pull the plug. I was near the ramp and let them out. It was starting to rain but they were able to get to their car without getting soaked. I secured my boat and went to get my Suburban. I grabbed my rain jacket and threw my straw cowboy hat into the back of my vehicle (straw hats don’t like to get wet). By the time I got my boat on the trailer, it was raining heavily. I got off the ramp as quickly as possible so my fellow guides could get in. We were all soaked and our boats had three or four inches of rain in them.
“Luckily for us the rain had come at the very end of the day and we had time to catch plenty of trout. The guide estimate was 30 fish. It was a good day, but it took most of the next day to dry out all of my gear. That is fishing.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 665.77 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 6-20-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said lake levels at 668 feet msl and the Army Corps of Engineers has been running quite a bit of water, but the lake is still about 9 feet over pool. They’ve still got bushes in the water, roads in the water, all that good stuff. Water temperatures are climbing and it's getting hot. Del put in last Thursday morning at 88 degrees, he found some 90-plus degree water throughout the lake. It's that time of year now with the Corps generating a lot of water, the water's pulling the current. It’s definitely affecting the fishing. Most of the fishing he’s been doing has been better more toward the main lake secondary points, things of that nature. So you want to look for the shad balls early in the morning. If you can get out when the light’s coming out, that's your best bet. There's still a good topwater bite. It’s hit or miss depending on the day or the weather or whatever. On the breaking fish Del will throw walk-the-dog-style bait, a Zara Spook, a Sammy, something a little bigger so you can get some distance. You may be fishing a point and they may be breaking in 200 feet of water. You’ve got a couple of people on the boat, have someone throwing a popper; Whopper Plopper is also working. If you get in around the points with the bushes, it seems like the bushes are the key for the Whopper Plopper. As the morning goes on, sun comes up and it starts getting hot, that bite starts slowing down a little bit. You can still pick up a few fish throwing a swimbait. Swimbaits worked in keeping the boat in 30 foot of water, in the same place where you were working the topwater. Throw it out slowly, rolling it back to the boat, and they'll load up on it if you just get around them. If you’ve got any wind when the sun comes up, the bite is going to slow down for you. You can go to a couple of options then, though: Del likes to drag a jig on either the bluff fans or the long points those fish. Del also likes to throw a drop-shot, throw anything in a shad pattern with a shad color. Around the bluffs, look for shade. Fish will get up in there and most of those fish will be 10-15 feet deep, to as much as 20-30 feet depending on the day.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 558.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 6-20-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said striper and walleye fishing on Norfork Lake is the hot bite right now. The stripers have set into their summer pattern of being higher in the water column at early light, then moving deeper as the sun comes up. The good news is the bite is lasting longer in the morning. We have been catching stripers up to 9 a.m. It's very slow after 7 a.m. but you can catch them. The walleye are biting all over the lake on bottom bouncers using spinners and nightcrawlers, crankbaits and spoons. The best bite is 7-10 a.m. and 6 p.m. to dark. Look for them on the flats in waters ranging 24-32 feet. We are also catching stripers while fishing anywhere from 50-120 feet of water. The walleye are usually around the 35-foot range in the deep water. Stripers continue to feed on shad and crawdads. We are catching them using 3- to 5- inch gizzard shad; threadfin shad is also working, plus spoons. Right now, the middle of the lake is still the best bite for stripers, Crystal Cove, Robinson Point, Float and Panther Creeks. The walleye are everywhere. Just pick a long flat on the side of a point or if the point has a flat try that. You should be able to mark them they will be right off the bottom. Remember we are now in the summer period of striper fishing, so you should stop releasing legal stripers caught on live bait. The slogan for the summer is “Catch Your Limit and Go Home.” Catch your limit and quit for the day, save some fish for your next trip.

(updated 6-13-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is continuing to be outstanding. There is still a little topwater action right before sunrise and then again at sunset. Hybrids, whites, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass are the fish coming up sporadically. Most species are located from about 18 feet of water out to 70 feet of water. The striped bass and hybrid bass bite is one of the best bites Lou says he’s seen in a while. This species has started to school, which makes it a lot of fun. When you find the school of fish, you have continuous action until you lose the school, then you are back to looking. Live bait is working very well, but artificial baits are working as well. Vertical-jig with a spoon, cast out a big swimbait and cast or troll an Alabama rig. Lou says what he has noticed over the last week is that the fish he marks from the surface down to approximately 30 feet are predominately hybrid and white bass. The large arcs marked 40-70 feet are typically striped bass. Striped bass need the cooler water, whereas the hybrids can tolerate the warmer water. He has been vertical-jigging with a spoon for the deeper fish, as these are the big boys. Tuesday morning Lou had his spoon down 65 feet in 70 feet of water and hooked into something big. It would not budge, but then he felt a headshake and it started to move slowly along the bottom. “This fish could not care less that it was hooked. I fought this fish for about 5 minutes, then the treble hook just pulled out. I will get this monster the next time.” The best locations now are partway back in creeks, whether it be a major or a secondary creek. The striped and hybrid bass are feeding on crawdads during the evening and are switching out to shad when the sun starts to come up. The best depths where Lou has found the fish is 50-100 feet of water.
Lou says the walleye bite is also very good. Most of the fish that his guests have caught are in 20-30 feet of water on the bottom. During the night if you are using a light to attract bait you will find this species suspended down about 20 feet. A crawler harness with a bottom-bouncing weight is working very well, but Lou has caught walleye jigging with a spoon on the bottom. Live shad or shiners are also picking up some nice fish especially after dark. The largemouth bass bite has been good, especially early and late in the day. Some topwater action up close to the shoreline, as well as out in deep water while they are chasing shad. Lou says he’s caught some nice fish on Zara Spooks, swimbaits and a blade-type bait. As the sun gets high in the sky, switch out to baits you work along the bottom in 15-25 feet of water. You will also still find some nice fish up in the sunken buckbrush, but most are deeper. The crappie bite is good if you can locate the fish. This is the time of year when they scatter into deeper, cooler water along bluff drop-offs or inside of deep brush piles. The best bite for crappie has still been in the shade of covered docks.
The Norfork Lake level is falling approximately 3-2 inches per day and sits at 561.5, which is only about 5 feet above normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature is holding fairly stable and is currently in the mid-80s. The main lake is clear with a slight stain back in some of the coves. The lake is in absolutely great shape. “If you have not made your plans yet for your summer fishing and/or lake recreation vacation give us call. We have cabins available, 870-492-5113.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 6-20-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.6 feet to rest at 3.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.7 feet msl and 19.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had more generation and no wadable water. 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 above the top of power pool. On the Norfork, the water is has cleared substantially and has fished much better. There have been some nice midge hatches that have fished well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the past year’s 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 red fox squirrel nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has cleared and is fishing better. There are fewer fish in the creek. 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 6-20-2018) 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.