Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report
July 4, 2018
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Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 4, 2018.


White River

(updated 7-4-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says summertime fishing on the White River is so cool – the temperature drops 10-20 degrees below the air temperature on the bank. A wonderful way to escape the July heat wave. Bull Shoals Lake is now sitting just below power pool level at 660 feet msl elevation; we've been treated to low water when we depart in the morning and we return in the afternoon to rising water (up to 6 generators or more.) That requires different fishing styles, bait and tackle. Carry some artificial pink worms or wriggling red worms to the river as it rises in the afternoon and you might just catch a 20-pound brown like one of our anglers this morning. River minnows lured several browns this past week while the fresh crawdad tails moved some nice rainbows into the boat. Once in a while you have to work for your bait if you're serious about hooking a nice trout so, if possible, trap some minnows and catch a couple of river crawdads before you get to your favorite fishing hole. But always take time to enjoy the peace and beauty of the Arkansas Ozarks from a White River perspective.

(updated 7-4-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said that with the weather so hot, the fishing has rated only fair of late. The water clarity is clear and there are 2-3 generators running regularly at the dam. The trout bite is fair to good. Rainbows are preferring PowerBait. Not many browns were reported caught.

(updated 7-4-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week, they had several minor rain events combining for about a half-inch in Cotter, brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.9 feet to rest at 0.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.5 feet msl. This is 33.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 feet to rest at seasonal power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 0.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.7 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had heavy generation and no wadable water. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. 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.
John also said about dealing with the current weather trends, “The summer solstice is the official beginning of summer. It occurs on June 22, which was just a few days ago and I believe that summer is truly here. Today (last Friday) the high temperature is forecast to be 98 degrees and my iPhone weather app tells me that the forecast high temperature for tomorrow is 101 degrees. That is hot. As a guide, I make my living outside. I can’t cancel a trip because it is hot. I have to go out there and deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at me and help my clients do the same.
“The best way to deal with extreme heat is to avoid it. Start early. I had some contractors working on my house recently installing new windows and doors in my sunroom. They would show up at 5:30 and quit when it got too hot for them to work. Begin as early as possible. I have noted that most of my guide trips recently have been half day trips in the morning.
“I would also say that another way to beat the heat is to wet wade. That has not been much of a possibility lately with our current high levels of generation. This may be a possibility in the near future. I checked the lake levels (Friday) morning and all of the lakes in the White River system were less than a foot from reaching power pool. When the lake levels drop below flood pool the Corps of Engineers transfer the control of generation to the Southwestern Power Administration, who usually generates power during periods of peak power demand (afternoons). We may get some wadable water soon.
“If you can’t avoid the heat, dress for it. I like the Patagonia Island Hopper shirts in long sleeve. They are loose fitting, light weight, cool and have two button flap pockets so I don’t lose the contents, when I bend over. The latest trend is the knit polyester or polyester and cotton blend long sleeve T-shirts. They dry super quick and are cooler than even cotton plus they protect you from the sun. Although I have one to mow my lawn, I don’t like to fish in them because they don’t have pockets and I always carry stuff.
“I like quick-dry lightweight tropical fishing pants in light colors. I avoid shorts because I have a fair complexion. I only wear long sleeve shirts for the same reason.
“I wear quick dry boat shoes and lightweight quick dry socks. I used to wear sandals but I got a pretty serious sun burn on my feet. I usually wear a big straw cowboy hat. They are light weight, cool and comfortable. A lot of my fellow guides prefer Buffs. These are tubular polyester neck gaiters that protect the neck and can also be pulled up to protect the nose and ears. They come in a variety of colors and patterns. I don’t like them because I think I look like I am holding up a convenience store when I wear one.
“Drink lots of fluids because you are going to sweat, when it’s this hot. The best thing to drink is water. The best place to carry water is in your body. Don’t just carry water; drink it. I always carry double the amount of water when it’s this hot. I carry a minimum of a quart per person.
“Don’t forget the sunscreen. Put it on any skin surface that is not covered. Use one that has an SPF (sun protection factor) of at least 30. Apply it often and lavishly. Most people don’t apply enough.
“Take breaks in the shade from time to time. You can even wade around in the water (it is around fifty seven degrees) to cool off.
“Don’ let hot weather keep you at home! I will be out there fishing.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.02 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-4-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said lake level Thursday was at 661 feet msl, still about 2½ feet over the normal pool for this time of year. Temperature is about 84 degrees up to 90 depending on where you’re at. It’s been hot; Thursday was the hottest day of the year. The Corps been generating quite a bit of water, running about eight units a day, to get the lake level back down. And it’s summertime, the fishing’s pretty much going to stay the same for a while here. Expect a report every two weeks or so unless something major changes. Early in the morning there’s a good topwater bite still. You can throw a Zara Spook, you can walk the dog, throw a Sammy, Gunfish, anything of that nature. “There’s a small feeding window there, so if you get up really before the sun comes up and get ready beyond the water when it happens, it'll definitely pay off that first hour, hour and a half, sometimes two hours. We've had a lot of fronts come through lately, so if you can get it out before one of those storms come in without getting in trouble you'll do good,” Del said. Now, definitely you want to follow the shad around, he says. If you can find the bait, you're going to find the fish, so pay attention when you're out there. The main lake definitely has been better and it will continue to be as they generate water. The lake still has those fish out on the points, so as the sun comes out you want to fish the main lake points, secondary points, humps, islands, docks and brush piles anywhere in that 20-25 feet range. There is a drop-shot bite that's working, you can spoon them; get up around the docks as the spoon bite’s been pretty good. If you want to go in the back, you can do that if you get some runoff. You can definitely go in the back after one of the storms and get into the fish, but it's going to be hit or miss, that's for sure. Del and other anglers are still catching fish on the Whopper Plopper; they’re catching them in the bushes, those largemouth are relatively shallow early and it's hot out. Del says he’s fishing half-days now, and you can line up a trip with him. “Also if you want to get out and catch some fish you've got other options: the White River, which is right here, we’ve got bowfishing, we got the Fourth (July 4) coming up, the scuba guys have been out on the lake spearfishing for walleye and the walleye guys that are fishing are doing really good dragging bottom-bouncers. The last week was anywhere in the 20- to 28-foot range.”

(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.

Norfork Lake

As of Tuesday afternoon, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 555.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-4-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the striper bite has gone from good to outstanding this past week on Norfork Lake. The week before, Tom says, they had a hard time catching any size or numbers; now they are limiting out in less than two hours on each trip. This past Saturday and Sunday morning his clients caught 10 limits of stripers in less than 24 hours. The difference between the morning and evening bite is the heat and timing. The evening bite is happening late during the trip; it usually starts at sunset and right after dark. The morning bite starts around 6 a.m. and last for two hours. This is especially great because the heat is only starting vs. the evening when the heat index is often 100 degrees. The walleye are still biting, but you do not have to go early. But the heat is the biggest problem sitting out on the lake with the heat index of over 100. 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.
Tom adds that the stripers are now in their summer pattern. You will find them feeding in 40-60 feet of water. In the 40-foot range they will be on the bottom feeding. In deeper water the fish can be found in the 35- to 40-foot range feeding on shad. The good news is the bite is lasting longer in the morning. Tom says they have been catching stripers up to between 8-9 a.m. The walleye are biting all over the lake on bottom bouncers using spinners and nightcrawlers, crankbaits and spoons. The best bite is 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 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.
“The lower end of Norfork is now turning on. Find a point or flat and you should find feeding stripers. 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 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 ‘Grow Trophies, 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 7-4-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week, they had several minor rain events combining for about a half-inch in Cotter, brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. Norfork Lake fell 2 feet to rest at 0.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.3 feet msl and 23.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had more generation and little 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 at or slightly above the top of power pool. With warmer weather and increased power demand for air conditioning, we can expect more generation in the afternoons but there is a possibility of wadable water in the cooler morning. The Norfork water 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 flooding over 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. He says 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). 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 7-4-2018) 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 quick