Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 27, 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 27, 2018.

White River

(updated 6-27-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been heavy and round-the-clock with continual output of four or more generators, 12,000 to 14,000 cfs all day. All this high water provides lots of places for trout to run and hide in (and grow big and feisty) and has tested the skills of the anglers. Look for clear water to drift, cast toward the bank and you'll most often pull in a rainbow in no time. Get their attention with fluorescent, bright baits and flashy silver spoons. Drifting a Berkley Pink Worm with or without the PowerBait has offered some success. Browns have been partial to river minnows again this past week; most of the browns were found downriver of Hurst Hole to just past the U.S Highway 62 bridge north of Cotter. “We expect lower water levels in the next few days once Bull Shoals Lake reaches desired power pool range; catching will become less of a challenge. Come on out and test your skills. See you on the river!”

(updated 6-27-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is high with eight generators running at the dam round-the-clock. Trout catches ranged from poor to fair in the past week. The anglers are fishing with boats and came back with a few browns and a few rainbows at best. Check with the resort for any change in the water, but they say right now it is too high for good fishing.

(updated 6-27-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Friday that during the past week one rain event produced about an inch in Cotter, plus they had warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.1 feet to rest at 3.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.77 feet msl. This is 31.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 feet to rest at 0.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1 foot to rest at 2.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 6.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2 feet to rest at 1.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.5 feet msl and 21.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had more generation and little if any 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, expect more generation in the near future, particularly in the afternoons. The White River has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim 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 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.
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.
John also added this important note about fishing line, “The other day my wife, Lori, returned from a trip to Memphis to put on a fly-casting seminar for the Mid-South Fly Fishers, our old fishing club. She was storing some food items in the refrigerator that she had picked up while she was on her trip. She needed a bit of space in the fridge and began checking the ‘use by’ dates on everything to eliminate expired items. Out went milk, yogurt, cream cheese and some funky looking diced cantaloupe. As I was helping with this, I thought about other things that did not age well. Not everything is like wine and good cheese that actually improve with age.
“The first thing that came to mind was monofilament, the basic nylon material used in fishing leaders and tippet. It degrades over time. If you keep it too long it will become a bit more brittle and can break easily. Monofilament leaders are made from the same material and have the same properties. I formerly used only Orvis tippet because it featured a ‘use by’ date. For some inexplicable reason Orvis discontinued featuring a ‘use by’ date on its tippets and leaders. I personally think it was because obsolete material was hard to sell.
“I find that monofilament begins to degrade in about a year. Therefore, I recommend that you replace your monofilament every year. It is easy enough. Just buy new tippet every time you renew your fishing license. This may seem like a bit of expense, but it is not too much when you consider that a $5 spool of new tippet could easily save you from losing a couple of $2.50 flies (I always use double-fly rigs) on a single hookup.
“This is no problem for me. As a guide, I can go through a new spool of tippet in a couple of days of guiding. Since a regular 30-yard spool of tippet will only rig about 30 rods (it takes two 18-inch sections of tippet to rig a double-fly rig), I buy the 100-yard spools. I usually have six at a time and they never go bad. I do take a Sharpie and note the date I bought it. I pretty much do the same thing with leaders.
“When I am on a guide trip, the first thing that I check is the rigging on my client’s rods. I always ask the same question, ‘How old is this leader?’ If it is a year or older, I change it for a brand-new leader. I always put on new tippets.
“It should be noted that fluorocarbon tippets and leaders are much more durable. In fact, they can last much longer. The only problem is that they cost three times as much as monofilament. If you don’t use that much tippet and you keep it for a long time, fluorocarbon is a good deal. It is also a bit stronger and very abrasion resistant.
“Take a minute and check out your leaders and tippet. It may save you the fish of a lifetime.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 662.38 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 6-27-2018) K Dock Marina on the Missouri side of Bull Shoals Lake said lots of fish were caught the last few weeks. Anglers are still doing great on almost all species of game fish. Water is hot and dropping fast, but the bite is still on if you can stand the heat and humidity. (The Army Corps of Engineers has now made this current lake level the new summer power pool after implementing the Minimum Flow Act several years ago.) Unfortunately the boat launch near K Dock will still not be usable at this level. This launch was designed to be used for a power pool of 654 feet msl. This launch was never raised before they changed the lake to the current level. “We believe it’s time to make some noise and tell the Corps that we need a high water boat launch! I will be posting a separate blog on this site about this project very soon.” Scott says the water temperature is ranging 87-90 degrees and the water is stained. Black bass are good on a variety of baits – topwater early morning and evening; jigs on points and steep rock bluffs, peanut butter and jelly are working good; large crankbaits and 8- to 10-inch plumb or blue fleck plastic worms. Walleye are good on trolling medium crankbaits. Keep the boat in about 20-25 feet for suspended walleye in the 12-18 feet range. Some walleye are being caught on larger crankbaits and bottom bouncers in the 20-30 feet range. They will really start to go deep if the surface temperature jumps above 90 degrees. Lots of 5- to 6-pound walleye were caught on white or silver spoons, vertical-jigging, around 20-25 feet of water off the points. Crappie are good to fair on live minnows in brush piles. Also some very large crappie are being caught trolling small to medium crankbaits a few feet from the high bluff sides of the lake.

(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 557.08 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 6-27-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said striper and walleye fishing on Norfork Lake is good but inconsistent. Depending on what part of the lake you’re fishing you will either limit out or look at lots of stripers on your locator and not get a bite. The area around the bridges seems to hold more active fish. Tom says he keeps seeing pictures of limits of stripers caught each day. The lower lake has lots of stripers. Sometimes you will see 100 stripers on your screen but only get one bite. The stripers are stilling feeding on crawdads but their main source of food is the 1-inch shad that hatched a month ago. The evening bite seems to be better than the morning bite. You will need to wait out the fish. It's like deer hunting. The last 45 minutes of light produces the best bites. The stripers can be found in 40-120 feet of water each morning. The ones on the bottom feed the least, which is the opposite for this time of year. Tom and his groups are fishing seven downlines, with each line set at different depths from 30-45 feet. The stripers are still hitting free lines that have a small split shot set back 80 feet from the boat. The side of bluffs and points are holding the most fish. Stripers are being caught on shad and trolling using umbrella rigs and swimbaits.
Walleye are biting but you do not have to go early. The best bite is from 8 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 4 p.m. to dark. The 101 Dock area, Robinson Point, Thumb Point, the back of Big Creek and Diamond Bay, to name a few, are producing limits of walleye. Spin rigs with nightcrawlers are producing the best. The rigs should have a 30-inch lead. You will have to try various colors to find the color and blade shape that they want that day. Meanwhile, 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 slower 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. Tom’s crew is 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 are 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, though, 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 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 or change your target species. Save some fish for your next trip and watch them grow into trophies.

(updated 6-27-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is in the early stages of its summer pattern. This means the lake has a thermocline forming and many species are close to this level and other species are going deeper. Several species school this time of year while other species scatter to the cooler depths of the lake. The bite for striped bass and hybrid bass has been excellent over the last week. Yes, you do need to find them, but once you do, you are going to have a lot of fun. Lou said he had the pleasure of fishing with his daughter's family and two of her friends over the last week and “we had a great time. I would take out the girls one day and the next the guys. The girls definitely outperformed the guys. I love to instigate trouble.” Lou is finding these fish in many different types of locations – main lake points, main lake flats, back in the major creeks and some in the larger secondary creeks. In the morning the fish seem to be congregating close to deep channel swings. These are areas where the creek or main lake channel is curving in close to the shore, especially if it is close to a rocky point. The fish have an opportunity to go shallow to feed on crawdads during the night, then move out to deep water to feed on shad during daylight hours. Lou said he is finding stripers in 60-100 feet of water with the fish suspended from 30-70 feet down. A pretty good bite in the afternoon has also started. In the afternoon look for a deep main lake flat or a big rounded point. The fish will be out in the 60- to 80-foot range. You will need to look for the bait, and if you can find them, the stripers will be nearby. The striped bass are still scattered throughout the lake, but the better areas for Lou have been around the bridges and heading south. It appears the bigger stripers are at the deepest level – nice fish, but smaller ones are up higher in the water column. Live bait, either shad or shiners, is working great, but vertical-jigging with a spoon is working very well for him, Lou said. Trolling large swimbaits or deep-diving crankbaits is also working as long as you can get your bait down below the 35-foot water depth.
Lou adds that walleye fishing has also been very good. You will find the biggest concentration of fish at or near the thermocline from 20-30 feet depth. As the thermocline drops, so will the fish. Lou says he’s also picking up a few that are out chasing shad while he is striper fishing. These fish have been anywhere from 40-60 feet deep. Trolling crawler harnesses with a small spinner has been working very well, as well as trolling a deep-diving crankbait. Both of these baits need to be close to or actually in contact with the bottom to entice the fish to bite. Another good method of walleye fishing is vertical-jigging a spoon. Lou has been using a ¾-ounce spoon, bouncing it off of the bottom.
He says that largemouth bass fishing has also been good. There is still a little topwater action right before sunrise and then again as the sun is setting. They are located all over the lake, from the main lake to the creeks. Most of the topwater action that he has seen has been back in creeks in the mornings and out on main lake flats at sunset. Swimbaits and crankbaits are working early in the mornings. As the sun comes up, the fish go down. Switch out to some of your favorite plastics, either Texas-rigged or Carolina-rigged. Get your baits down to 18-30 feet. Lou says he’s picked up a few big bass 50 feet down over the last week while striper fishing off of points. The bass are feeding on dark green crawdads, as well as threadfin shad. Crappie fishing is still good under docks at different times of the day. The crappie are scattered out in deep water, as they normally do this time of year. If you find some 30- to 40-foot-deep brush, check it out, as there will be a few crappie hanging around. Norfork Lake water level is still falling several inches per day and on Tuesday was at 557.19 feet msl. The surface water temperature is in the mid- to upper 80s. Most of the lake is very clear with some of the creeks and coves slightly stained. Norfork Lake is in great condition of all types of water sports. “Give us a call at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort (870-492-5113) for your summertime vacation. We still have availability for most weeks in July and August. If you are looking for a fishing vacation, I will be able to help put you on fish. I am out on the lake at least five days a week trying to keep up with their ever-changing locations. If a lake loving vacation is what you are looking for, Norfork Lake is in great shape for your swimming and boating fun.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 6-27-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that last week Norfork Lake fell 2 feet to rest at 1.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.5 feet msl and 21.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had more generation and little if any 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, expect more generation in the near future particularly in the afternoons. The water here has cleared substantially and has fished much better. There have been some nice midge hatches that have fished well. Navigate this stream with caution. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole in the past year. 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 much 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).

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 6-27-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable but low. 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.