Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 25, 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 25, 2018.

White River

(updated 7-25-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the bite is on and the anglers on the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks are catching trout on the first cast of the day, on the last cast in the afternoon and on a whole lot of casts in between. Anglers of all ages and persuasions are catching trout downriver from Bull Shoals Dam in the Cotter neighborhood. The water is cold and clear, refreshing if you wade or bank fish, and providing a cool updraft when you're moving downstream in a jon boat. A family fishing adventure offers so much togetherness time in an outdoor arena, sharing quiet moments and watching nature "happen" in real time, in a digital-free environment (or as much as you desire it to be.) A professional guide on the White River can handle the distractions and let you and your kids experience the thrill of bringing a trout to your net, maybe keeping a limit or watching them swim back to their kingdom after safely releasing them. With low water releases from Bull Shoals Dam, return to the ever-successful combination of shrimp-PowerBait combination. “Bring some of your photos for some ah-h-h-h time.”

(updated 7-25-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the fishing for brown trout has been great the past week. Browns in the 24-inch-long range are being caught. Also, there are lots of rainbows. The river level is low most of the day, but higher in the afternoon. You’ll have excellent success here based on the past few days, they say. Water is clear.

(updated 7-25-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said over the weekend that during the past week they had no measurable rain, brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds at Cotter. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.6 feet to rest at 2 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 36 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.8 feet to rest at 1.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest 1.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 9.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had less generation with more wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 25.4 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, 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 are still coming off. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (sizes 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 added, “Last week I had a guide trip with a nice married couple. He was a CPA and financial consultant and she was a nurse anesthetist. They had never fly-fished but wanted to learn. I consider myself a teaching guide, so I was intrigued by this trip.
“It was a great day for fishing. They were running a bit less than one full generator (about 2,500 cubic feet per second) at the dam, which is a great water level to fish. At 7:30 a.m., it was 72 degrees but the weather forecast called for a high of 97 degrees, partly cloudy skies and light winds. There was a dense fog on the river that made it nice and cool.
“I began the day with a quick fly-casting class. Neither one of them had ever cast a fly rod. It took me about 15 minutes to get them going. I continued the lesson throughout the day as we fished. I made minor corrections as we went along and by the end of the day they were casting well.
“On the first drift, they both had hookups but lost the fish. I carefully explained what they had done wrong and how to correct it. He had been a bit slow on setting the hook. She had turned the reel in the wrong direction allowing slack in the line, which allowed the trout to slip the hook.
“On the next drift, things went a little better. First, he hooked up a nice trout. I was moving toward the front of the boat to net the fish when she hooked up. I was standing between the two of them, which was the best spot to net the two trout. Landing two fish can be a bit tricky: Which one will be ready to come in first and can the other angler keep their fish on, while the first trout is being netted?
“Things went perfectly. Her trout was ready first. I scooped it up and quickly removed the hook. I was about to release the fish when I had an idea. I kept the fat 18-inch rainbow in the net and scooped his trout. It was the mirror image of the first trout.
“I had two really nice rainbows in the net and thought it would make a great photo. It was a great double and their first trout. I kept the fish in the water, until he got his iPhone out and set up for the picture. I took several photos and captured the moment of them holding their first trout. It set the mood for the rest of the day.
“They caught some nice fish. A 14-inch rainbow was the smallest trout and the 18-inchers were the big fish. After several hours of fishing, it was starting to warm up and they were about ready to go back to the lodge. They were tied at eight trout each. I suggested one more drift as a tie-breaker. They agreed.
“We were about 50 feet into the drift when he hooked up. At the same time, I saw the first raindrops (rain was not in the forecast). They did not have rain gear, so we quickly landed the trout and headed back to the ramp. They scrambled to their car and I got soaked putting the boat on the trailer. Despite the wet ending, it had been a great day that began with a memorable double.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.08 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 554.31 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-25-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said that this past week has seen a lot of Norfork Lake stripers caught. My son and I have landed multiple limits of stripers daily. The striper bite right now is almost entirely live bait. Some are being caught trolling using umbrella rigs and spoons. However if you want to catch numbers right now hire a live bait guide. That is your best chance of catching your limit and a big fish. Today (Sunday) I zigged twice before I zagged and found a new spot with lots of active stripers. My current spot has been good but it has slowed and other guides have found me and moved in on the spot. My son and I spend most off days fishing for new spots with active stripers. A lot of people look for the guides then move in thinking that's the best opportunity to catch a striper. This seems to happen a lot in the summer and is one of my pet peeves. On Sunday we went over 2 hours without a bite but the last 2 hours made up for it. The stripers were shallow next to a buff and deep water. We were catching them in 50' with our lines set at 40'. We also caught fish off the buff in 80' of water with our lines set at 50'. If you find some fish suspended in 40 to 50' of water no matter how deep the bottom is go ahead and start fishing. Most likely a school will come around. Find a shaded buff next to a channel and you will find active stripers. The evening bite has started again. Look for stripers in water starting at 40' and move out until you find them. Saturday evening they were feeding heavy at 44' on the bottom. The bite will last up until dark. The stripers are on the points with sloping flats near the dam. Stripers are still being caught from Diamond Bay off point 2 in the channel, Georges Cove, Koso Point, Hudson, Hand Cove, Dam Cove and Thumb Point.

(updated 7-25-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been good and has had some very interesting occurrences that are not typical based on his prior years’ experience. If you are looking for some fun topwater action, it has been occurring for the last several weeks. White bass and hybrids are erupting in the mid-lake to northern parts of the lake in the mornings and the afternoons. The small to mid-sized whites are on the surface, but if you get down 5-10 feet the bigger whites are feeding heavily. “I suggested using a Kastmaster blade-type bait to some of my guests. They found the feeding frenzy this morning and had a blast.” The catfish bite is also doing very well. Some of Lou’s guests have set trotlines in coves in about 10 feet of water and are catching blues and channels overnight, as well as a few during the day. “I have caught some really nice-size blues in about 50 feet of water on the sides of points with a sharp drop-off. My catfish have been caught using live threadfin shad.”
Lou says the striped bass and hybrid bass bite is good if you can locate the schools of fish. He has been fishing in two different areas, but he said he can see the fish are slowing moving out. “I did a little looking around different areas from Point 2 down toward the Jordan area. I marked a few fish in all areas, but didn't find anything really exciting. In the last spot I did find small schools of stripers that were still feeding. A first-time striped bass fisherwomen landed a nice 8-pounder out of this school. We had two other rods bent to the water at the same time, but we missed both of them. After this flurry of activity the fish moved on and we headed home. I am going to check this spot out much earlier in the morning tomorrow.” Lou says he has been mainly using threadfin shad, but spoons are also working. If you enjoy trolling you should be able to pick up some nice fish. Umbrella rigs and swimbaits are both catching fish. The trick is to get your bait down to 30-40 feet deep, Lou said. Look from Point 2 to the dam out in the deeper water along bluff lines and main lake points. Norfork Lake is holding fairly stable for both the lake level and the surface water temperature. The lake currently sits at 554.30 feet msl and the surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 87 degrees. The main lake is clear and some of the creeks and coves are somewhat stained.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-25-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the past week Norfork Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 25.4 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, 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 the recent 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 much better though there are fewer fish in the creek. The hot flies have been sowbugs (#14), Y2Ks (#12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise #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 7-25-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are 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.