Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 11, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 11, 2018.

White River

(updated 7-11-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The Fourth of July holiday brought some longtime friends to the White River and allowed us to introduce some new anglers to the fishery.” Bull Shoals Lake is nearly 2 feet below the seasonal power pool target, so anglers have seen lower water levels throughout most of the day, between 2,500 to 3,100 cfs on average. Heavier generation in the late afternoons requires staying ahead of the rise or turning back on it and running upriver to clearer waters. The quality of rainbows exceeds the quantity, and many days the quantity rises above expectations. River minnows and soft-shell crawdads worked close to the bank captured the attention of more than a score of browns over the past seven days. Rainbows looked for their treat of shrimp and made for lots of happy anglers. Summertime temperatures can be brutal, so bring lots of water and electrolytes to stay hydrated. It's fun to see so much wildlife come to the river to cool off, get a drink and find refreshment in the heat, too. Visitors have shared the river with deer, eagles, foxes, mink, otters, herons, turtles and other animals this week. “We hope to see you there, too.”

(updated 7-11-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said late last week that during the past week, they have had no rain, brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.2 feet to rest at 0.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 661.3 feet msl. This is 34.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.5 feet to rest at 0.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 7.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had less generation but no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1 foot to rest at 0.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 556 feet msl and 24.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and wadable water every day. 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 below 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 mornings.
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 bead-head pheasant tail with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
John also shares this lesson about equipment, “As a guide, I frequently am called on to provide loaner rods for my clients. Either they are new to the sport and don’t have one yet, they are traveling and did not want to bother with carrying one, or the broke their rod recently. I need to supply good reliable equipment that is durable and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.
“I have three loaner rigs and my wife, Lori, has two. They are all the same. The rod is a Temple Fork Outfitter Lefty Kreh Professional Series two-piece, five-weight, 9-foot rod. When I bought them, they retailed for around $100 each. They have a lifetime guarantee that I have taken advantage of on several occasions. They are abused on a regular basis.
“The reels are old Orvis Battenkill 5/6 disc-drag reels. They retailed for about $80 when I bought them. They came with a lifetime guarantee and I have sent one back for a major repair. They have been beat up and a lot of the finish is missing. They still perform beautifully. I have an extra spool that is set up for left-handed fly-casters so that, when I have one, I can quickly switch the reel over to right-hand retrieve. I have a top-of-the-line fly line for each rig that retails for about $75. The whole rig cost a bit over $250, but I paid substantially less with my guide discount. I consider this to be the best rig for the money that I have found. When Lori and I fish together from the boat, we generally use our loaner rods because they fish well and are always in the back of my Suburban already rigged from my most recent guide trip.
“They were put to the test (last Thursday) on a guide trip. Lori was guiding Christi, a C.P.A. from Georgia. Christi said that she wanted to catch a lot of fish, so Lori took her to the White River. I was not working so I went along to run the boat and Lori could concentrate on landing trout.
“I got to the river a little early and I fished for a few minutes with a client rod before Lori and Christi arrived. I managed to catch a nice trout. When they got there, I motored over to the ramp and picked them up. Christi brought an Orvis Helios 3 fly rod with a Mirage Reel and a topnotch fly line. It was the same size and weight fly rod as the loaner but cost a bit over $1,500. While Lori rigged the rod, Christi used the loaner so that she could begin fishing sooner. She was into a trout almost immediately. It was a fat 18-inch rainbow. A few minutes later it was another rainbow and then another. It took Lori quite a while to rig the Helios because she was busy netting trout. When she got it rigged, Christi opted to continue fishing with the client rod because it was working well.
“Later in the day she was fighting a really big trout when the fish slipped the hook and the line came back and tangled around the rod. While Lori was dealing with the tangle, Christi took the Helios and began fishing. She wasn’t doing as well casting it and went back to the client rod when Lori got it untangled. She finished the day using the client rod.
“Christi landed 35 trout. The biggest was a 20-inch rainbow. They were all caught on the client rod. It is more important that a rod fish well than be expensive.”

(updated 7-11-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity the past week has been wonderful, even it it's hot weather. Two generators are running at the dam. The trout bite is good. Rainbows are biting PowerBait and Power Worms.


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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.88 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 6-28-2018) 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 Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 555.30 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-11-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is in its summer pattern. Fish are going deeper as the thermocline continues to drop. The thermocline appears to be in the 22-30 feet range, depending where you are located on the lake. Striped bass fishing continues to be very good. The best artificial method has been vertical-jigging with a spoon. If you are trolling, use a large swimbait or an umbrella rig with the same swimbaits attached to it. Live bait (threadfin or gizzard shad and large shiners) has been working the best for him, Lou said. “I am catching stripers 40-70 feet deep in 45-100 feet of water. Most of the fish I've caught over the last week that were 40 feet down have been hybrids. The striped bass has been deeper. Locations for the striped bass have not really changed much since my last report. I am finding them on the main lake as well as in some of the creeks. Channel swings where the water drops off to 80-plus feet very close to shore are one of the best areas. Long points where the channel is close are also holding some really good fish. I am finding striped bass from the 62 bridge area all the way down towards and beyond Hudson Point, a little east of the dam.”
Largemouth bass fishing has also been good. There is still some good topwater action right before sun up and as the sun is setting. Other times of the day you need to look for these fish on or slightly below the thermocline. Brush piles near the thermocline are also holding some nice fish. Catfish and walleye have also been biting very well. Lou says he has caught some really nice-sized channel and blue cats on live shad while fishing for striped bass. Most of the catfish came from 60-70 feet deep close to the bottom, especially when he has found deep bait. The same, as above, holds true for the walleye. You will also find nice walleye below the thermocline especially early and late in the day. Crawler harnesses are work very well, as well as live larger minnows.
Norfork Lake level is holding fairly stable and currently sits at 555.28 feet msl. Periodic power generation is occurring to hold the level close to the current normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature is in the 86-90-degree range. The main lake is clear with some of the coves and creeks slightly stained.

(updated 7-11-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the striper bite on Norfork Lake is still strong for the first two hours in the morning. “I have yet to find a secondary bite after 7:30 but will spend time this week finding new fish to catch. This week we have multiple days where both Sean and I have limited out in less than two hours. In any given morning we will have enough bite to use over 40 shad apiece. Some bites happen so fast the client cannot react to hook the fish and others are just plain misses.” He says there is still an afternoon bite but most times it really starts at sundown and only lasts for less than an hour. Now that we are in the summer pattern you will find them feeding in 40-120 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 35-40-foot range feeding on shad. Tom and his anglers are catching stripers using 3- to 5-inch gizzard shad. The lower end of Norfork seems to be where the better bite is. Tom says he’s seeing striper guides from the upper portion of the lake fishing near us. This tells me that the fish are moving south looking for cooler water with more oxygen. Some places to start looking are the channel off Point 2 from Diamond Bay to the Bluffs, Georges Cove, Koso Point, Dam Cove and Thumb Point. “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.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-11-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that last week Norfork Lake fell 1 foot to rest at 0.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 556 feet msl and 24.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and wadable water every day. 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 below 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 mornings. The Norfork has fished well. There have been some nice midge, caddis and sulphur hatches that have provided some good top water action. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during flooding over the past year or more. 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 much better, though 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 7-11-2018) vJohn 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.