Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

  August 1, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report August 1, 2018.

White River

(updated 8-1-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been minimal and the White River water level at Cotter is very low most every day. They see mid-afternoon releases during the week with the rise showing up in Cotter late in the day or early evening, and returning to an extremely low level by morning. Although this makes navigation dicier (the river claims large chunks of propellers at times like this), the professionals find the deep holes and are claiming the best catches of rainbows seen in months. Bring your favorite spoons (nothing too big for most of the day) like the 1/6-ounce Thomas Buoyant brown trout spoon, a Rebel floating minnow (blue or black back, white bellies), the Rebel crawfish, or the old standby shrimp and Power Eggs (usually fluorescent yellow is most successful). You'll have your own fish tales (tails?) to tell. The brown bite hasn't let up completely and we've seen some nice cutthroats over the last several weeks. These two fighters usually perk up at a river minnow laid low beside their hidey holes. See you at the river.

(updated 8-1-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is clear and the water level is low in the morning, returning to normal later in the day. The trout fishing is excellent, they report. Fifteen browns were caught in one day, with the size ranging between 17 and 25 inches. Rainbows being caught are all excellent.

(updated 8-1-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week, they had no measurable rain, brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 feet to rest at 2.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 36.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 feet to rest at 2.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 1.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 10feet 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 1.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 25.9 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, 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 the Narrows. There are sulphurs are still 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 midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down.
John also had a fishing story: “Last week Bill Barksdale called and asked me if I would introduce his 21-year-old grandson, Alex, to fly-fishing. I have known Bill and his wife, Sandy, for over two decades. We were in the same fly-fishing club in Memphis, the Mid South Fly Fishers. They lived just down the street from my mother- and father-in-law. They even lived briefly in Cotter a few blocks from me while their home on a bluff overlooking Rim Shoals was being built.
“Bill is an avid fly-fisher but had not been able to introduce Alex to the sport because his son William (Alex’s dad) has traveled quite a bit for his job and Alex had been unavailable for Bill to fish with him. Bill wanted him to fish with me the first time to build his confidence in his ability to catch trout on a fly rod and in general get him enthusiastic about fly-fishing. I was eager to do it.
“The day we chose was a bit challenging. We were to begin at noon and the forecast was for a sunny day with a high temperature of 100 degrees. I feared it would be too hot for the lad, but I was clearly mistaken.
“I began the day with a brief casting lesson. It was apparent to me rather quickly that Alex was a natural. I decided to get the boat in the water and concentrate on fishing. They were running a bit of water around 1,500 cfs, or about half a generator. This is a good level to fish.
“We had a couple of fish on during the first drift but lost them. I explained to Alex what he was doing wrong and how to correct the error. On the next drift he landed a fat 18-inch rainbow.
“From then on it was clear sailing. We began catching fish at will. From time to time we would lose one and I would explain what went wrong. Alex quickly made the correction and we began to catch even more trout. We were fishing at the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. The fish there are a bit larger. All of the trout we caught were in the 14- to 18-inch slot. They averaged about 16 inches. Alex was having the time of his life.
“About 3 p.m. we took a brief break. Bill and William were sitting at a picnic table in the shade near the ramp watching us fish. They were pleased with our progress. We had landed 20 trout. I invited them to join us, but they declined. They said it was Alex’s day.
“We returned to the river after drinking a bottle of water. I was amazed at how well we were doing despite the heat. One hundred degrees doesn’t bother you when you are catching fish. A bit of cloud cover and a light wind helped a lot. We caught five more and then it was time to call it a day.
“We had ended the day with 25 trout. Bill was very pleased. The next two days Bill and Alex canoed together and fished. Alex fished well both days and was enthusiastic about bringing his college buddies at Texas Christian University up to fish with him and his grand dad. Life is good!”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 658.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-1-2018) K Dock Marina on the Missouri side of Bull Shoals Lake said lake conditions are perfect right now for fishing. Water is clear of debris and sitting around the new normal of 659 feet msl. Surface temp has cooled off with the recent rains. The cooler temperatures have brought the lake way down from the 91 degrees experienced a couple of weeks ago. Bass have become very active feeding in shallower water. Boat launch, Bluff Road and courtesy dock are all usable. The lake level Tuesday is 658.7 feet, the lake temperature is 84 degrees. Clarity is stained. Black bass are good on a variety of baits. Topwater plugs such as Zara Spooks, full-size Whopper Ploppers and buzzbaits. Great results have been seen using a 10- to 12-inch plum worm, Texas-rigged, in and around brush piles. Also good results on jigs and Brush Hogs. Crappie are good to fair on live minnows on trees and brush piles. Several 12- to 15-inch crappie came in last week. Large crappie are hitting medium crankbaits along the high rock bluffs while trolling. Walleye are good vertical-jigging silver or white spoons off of steep rock points. Good reports toward the power site/bridge area. Also good on large crankbaits trolled in 20-40 feet depth. Best reports on trolling are coming from around Bee Creek Island and the Drury Mincy flats starting at Barn Cove and heading downstream (just past the 35 Lake Marker).

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

(updated 8-1-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said striper fishing continues to be the hot bite on Norfork Lake. Right now everybody who either live bait fishes, trolls or spoons is catching stripers. This year with the normal water levels the lake has an excellent level of oxygen from 35-100 feet of water. This means the stripers have plenty of areas to roam and feed. August should be a great time for striper fishing. The crowds will be gone the weather will be good and should see lots of stripers caught. In years past when the water levels and oxygen are good, a great afternoon bite will start at Robinson Point from the island south to above 80 feet of water. Tom says he has fished Robinson Point both in the morning and evening in August and have produced lots of limits and some trophy fish. It's worth checking it out. You will see Tom out there some evenings. The best bite right now is from Georges Cove to the dam and from Thumb Point to Hand Cove. The areas Tom says he has targeted are secondary points with a channel swing in waters starting 50-130 feet. The shallow fish will be feeding on crawdads while the deeper fish will be feeding on this year's shad hatch. The small white bass and largemouth bass are feeding both early and late on the young shad. Any topwater bait will produce a strike. These fish are small but you will have lots of action. The topwater bite starts early and sometimes you will see feeding fish all day long. The evening bite looks like it will be great. Tom says they fished several evenings this past week and caught multiple limits and several good-size fish. Look for stripers in water starting at 40 feet and move out until you find them. 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 8-1-2018) 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 1.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 25.9 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, 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 top water 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 (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 8-1-2018) 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.