Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 18, 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 18, 2018.

White River

(updated 7-18-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says fishing from Cotter on the tailwater of Bull Shoals Dam produced a good quantity of fighting browns and healthy rainbows this week. All of the browns were less than legal limit but fought hard and gave the anglers a thrill. The new norm for water releases: half a generator (2,200 cfs) throughout the morning, then the rise begins in the Cotter area at about 3 p.m., falling out again around 4 a.m. Again, sculpins were the bait for browns – even an artificial sculpin tied with a jig pulled in a nice brown for a couple of pictures then back to the river. “The brown bite increased in the afternoons several days this week, which is a little uncommon; the pop-up showers and changing pressure systems can be credited for the change in the action, I think. This week, a mixture of baits was called for: One day we had luck with the brown trout Thomas Buoyant spoon, the next day the red/gold spoon won the bite. So keep a variety of smaller artificial baits on hand. Always be ready with some shrimp and scented egg pattern baits for a limit of nice rainbows.”

(updated 7-18-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is clear and the river level the past week was low. There are two generators running at the dam. Trout reports were good. The rainbow trout bite is OK, about the same as it was last week. Rainbows are biting PowerBait and Power Worms.

(updated 7-18-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday 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 0.9 feet to rest at 1.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 35.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 feet to rest at 0.8 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 0.8 feet below seasonal power pool and 9.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had less generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 0.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.8 feet msl and 24.9 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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-18-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said last week the lake level was at 659 feet msl; water temperature is about 90 degrees, mid-90s, depending on location. We’ve been under a heat advisory, so we're doing half-days. If you guys want to get out, learn how to drop-shot, it's a great time to learn how to do that. Definitely sticking with the half-days,” he says. The biggest thing is to fish the conditions. It's that time of year, got the thunderstorms rolling in – it might rain, it might not rain, that's going to affect the bite. Early in the morning there's still a topwater bite. Any walk-the-dog style baits are going to work. If you get around the fish you’ll notice they’ll be schooling pretty much out toward the main lake, any of those long points or saddles. If you see them busting you get in there right away, you can catch a few on it. Also started catching a few throwing a spoon at them. If they're a mile out there, if you chunk a piece of lead in there and let it sink, if you get in there right away, you'll catch a few. The top water bite, if you do get one, the most predominant bite for Del is picking up the spinning rod and putting a drop-shot on them. Places you're going to drop-shop: main lake points, main lake bluffs, secondary points, anywhere where you've got the channel swing banks where it comes in, if you've got deep-water ledges, that's where you're going to want to key in on the drop-shot. The conditions that Del will fish the drop shot: If the water is laying flat, or sunny, or the fish just aren't cooperating. “We love to power fish just like you guys. I'd love to go out and throw a Whopper Plopper and catch them.” Whopper Plopper is catching a few fish depending on the conditions. If you stick with it you'll catch a few. “A Whopper Plopper is one of my favorite ways to catch them just like a lot of you guys, so if you're gonna throw the Whopper Plopper with the lake level being where it is – we're right where we're supposed to be, 659 feet – there's a little bit of bushes left in the water, Whopper Plopper fish have been on those transition banks with bushes, points of bushes, a little bit of cover for them to get on.
“Another thing I'm doing is, if it's flat, sunny, some of the deeper docks, you can throw a Flutter Spoon in, pitching that around the docks, any of those docks that have 20 or more feet when you get around them. Those seem to be the ones that are holding the fish. They'll get in around the shade; make sure you fish the shady side of the docks. With all the boat traffic the lake is dirty, he said. He adds that there's a Sweet Beaver bite going on, that's catching a few and these are shallow. These are going to be your largemouth bass. He’s also catching a few on a square bill. There's a lot of shad that are up right now. Found a nice pocket of shad and went and fished them relatively shallow and caught some fish off of them. Fish very early, then go back in the evening.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.71 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-18-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the striper bite continues to be great the first two hours of light on Norfork Lake. “I did find a striper bite after 7 a.m. but it took a lot of searching to find active fish. What I found was stripers that were off points next to a channel swing in waters ranging 60 to 120 feet. The stripers are feeding on crawdads then moving to the deeper water to find this year's hatch of shad. Once you find the fish you will limit out very fast. We average less than 30 minutes to get a limit. Since I set out seven rods we usually will have two to four rods get hit when a school swims by,” Tom says. He adds that the oxygen level in the lake is great this year with good levels as deep as 115 feet, so “we should see a great bite well into September. As we get to August I expect to see some great action on Robinson Point. Every few years when we have good oxygen and normal water levels the stripers will school on Robinson Point; the best bite is usually middle afternoon into evening.” Tom says they will also see a strong movement toward the dam. Anglers should find large schools of stripers on the lake side of Koso Point near or next to the channel. This should be fantastic late-summer fishing season, he said. Stripers are being caught from Diamond Bay off Point 2 in the channel, Georges Cove, Koso Point, Hudson, Hand Cove, Dam Cove and Thumb Point. “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 ‘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,” he says.

(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.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-18-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 0.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.8 feet msl and 24.9 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. On the Norfork, the water has fished very well. There have been some nice midge, caddis and sulphur hatches that have provided some good topwater action. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during last 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 Nutt. 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). 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 adds, “Yesterday (Thursday, July 12) I had one of my best days ever fishing on the Norfork tailwater. I only caught four fish. How can that be a great day? When the smallest fish you catch is a fat 18-inch rainbow, it can be a spectacular day.
I have not fished the Norfork much for over a year. Last year’s 500-year flood devastated it and it is just now returning to its prominence as Arkansas’s premier blue ribbon trout stream. I have been spending most of my time fishing the White River and doing well.
“I have a couple of neighbors who live elsewhere and have weekend places here in Cotter. Mike lives in Collierville, Tenn., and Scott lives near Tampa, Fla. They were both in town and we have fished together a few times while they have been here the last two weeks. Yesterday we decided to fish the Norfork.
“We left Cotter at 6:15 a.m. and drove to the Ackerman Access. There were three cars already there. We put on our waders and headed upstream into the catch-and-release section. It was cool with a light fog and virtually no wind. The forecast was for 97 degrees and a sunny sky. We agreed to quit at 11 to avoid the heat.
“We all chose different spots. I was nymphing a fast, deep run and hooked a big trout. It made a run upstream and wrapped a rock, spitting the hook in the process. Two casts later I hooked another good one and he hung on to the hook a bit better. He made a long run and I moved out of the fast water toward the bank to fight him better. I finally landed a stout 24-inch male brown. A couple of anglers nearby came over to see what the fuss was all about. One of them took my phone and got a good photo. I gently released the brown. I fished there a while longer and caught another trout; this one was a 19-inch rainbow. Both were caught on a ruby midge dropper below a Y2K.
“It was time to move on. I could see Mike and Scott upstream. I decided to walk up there and try some new water. I asked Scott if I could fish a favorite spot nearby. He said sure and I began fishing there. On the second cast, I hooked a big rainbow and quickly lost it. On the next cast, I hooked a big fish that took a long run. I waded out of the fast water so that I could fight it better.
“I finally landed it to discover that it was a nice, healthy, 21-inch Bonneville Cutthroat trout. These are the trout that our local Trout Unlimited Chapter has been growing for the past several years. The idea was to develop another natural sustainable species of trout like the brown trout on our trout streams.
“This is the largest specimen of the Bonneville that I have seen, much less caught. It was living proof of the success of the stocking program. I was excited to catch it and was quite pleased. Scott came over and took a photo and I released the trout, hopefully to catch it again in a few years when it was even bigger.
“I fished there a bit longer and landed another rainbow. This one was 18 inches long and put up a great fight. It was about 10:30 a.m. and it was getting warm. I had caught all of the trout I needed. Two trophies in one morning were way more than I had expected. I found a shady spot to sit and relished in the day’s events.
“At 11, Mike and Scott quit fishing they had also had a spectacular day. We waded back to the access, pulled off our waders and drove over to Heidi’s Ugly Cakes for lunch. It was the perfect end to a perfect day. The Norfork is back!”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 7-18-2018) 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.