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Established 1954
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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 8, 2018

No video this week.  Had a fair amount of trips out but few photographers.
Below are some photos of our guided trout fishing customers taken this week at Cotter Trout Dock. 
Click images to enlarge.
Below the pictures is the Fishing Report from Arkansas Game and Fish.

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White River

(updated 8-8-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says fishing on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam was a treat this week; the weather was mild for early August, the river level was low, the water clear and cold, and the trout were biting – a lot. Didn't take too much to keep the bait near the bottom, and the rainbows snatched your bait if you kept a little shrimp on the hook. Water releases have occurred midday but the rise isn't seen until late afternoon in the Cotter area. The action on jigs has been great at the minimum flow water depth, and when the water begins to come in, turn to nightcrawlers or red wigglers. Favorite spot for browns this week was the power lines below Rim Shoals where they're hitting sculpins and crawdads regularly. “We had a pretty dry July in north central Arkansas and, except for some rain (Tuesday) afternoon, it's likely to stay dry with the lake remaining a little below power pool and no reason to release more except to meet power demands. I think the water release pattern has been set for the coming weeks: extremely low levels (wading paradise) during the morning hours until mid- to late afternoon. Expect low water and no afternoon increase on weekends. Come and test the waters and enjoy the Natural State with us.”

(updated 8-8-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water clarity is good, with minimum flows in the morning and 6-7 and even 8 generators running in the afternoon. Trout catches have been good; lots of folks have been fishing for rainbows. Waxworms or PowerBait are a great way to go, along with stick baits and sculpins. The browns really love the sculpins; the rainbows will go for the stick baits.

(updated 8-8-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week they had a half-inch if rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 feet to rest at 2.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 36.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.5 feet to rest at 3 feet below seasonal power pool and 17 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 1.4 feet below seasonal power pool and 10 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River saw less generation with wadable water every day. Norfork Lake fell 0.7 feet to rest at 2.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River System are 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 River 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 (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 (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 combination is a size 14 Copper John with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down.
John added, “On Monday (July 30) I went fishing with my wife, Lori. We try to fish together once a week. Sometimes that is not possible with our schedules. We are both guiding, teaching fly-fishing, and Lori is busy training and showing our two English Labrador retrievers, Tilley and Ghillie. We are also still restoring our 1922 stone bungalow in Cotter.
“Lori is my favorite fishing buddy. I met her 18 years ago, when I was teaching a fly-fishing class for the Mid-South Fly Fishers, my old fishing club in Memphis. I was paired with Lori for the on-stream day of the class. I was amazed with her innate ability, and we finished the day with the most fish caught by a student. It was love at first sight. We began dating and a bit over a year later we got married. Since then we have fished from Montana to east Tennessee.
“Early on I got her involved with my fly-fishing classes. With some solid tutelage from my brother, Dan, and Lefty Kreh, she became a great caster and a natural casting instructor. She leads the casting portion of the fly-fishing classes we teach at ASU (Mountain Home), teaches casting at the Sowbug Roundup, and conducts casting seminars for fly-fishing clubs. She is the best casting instructor in the area.
“We arrived at the river at 9 a.m. The river was on the bottom, the sky was overcast and there was a dense fog on the water that didn’t burn off until around noon. It was pleasantly cool and Lori wore her rain jacket all morning. I was comfortable in a long sleeve shirt. I launched the boat. I had rigged three rods the day before. Two were set up for nymphing with a Copper John and a ruby midge dropper. The other had a large foam hopper and a ruby midge dropper.
“We had the river to ourselves. We began drifting and were soon into fish. The ruby midge was the hot fly, but we caught a few on the Copper John. We fished till about 11:30 a.m. We had landed well over 25 nice trout averaging about 16 inches, with a few larger fish thrown in.
“It was about time to go in. We had left our black Lab Ghillie in the dog run and we were concerned that it may rain and we didn’t want to leave him outside in the rain. We decided to make one last drift. About the same time, we saw a good trout hit the surface. Lori wanted to try the hopper. By then I had caught enough trout so I just concentrated on handling the boat to see if she could catch one on the top. On the next drift, she took one on the dropper.
“I set up another drift near the bank. As we came down stream, I saw a good trout hit the surface. She saw it, too. I saw her pick up the line and make the perfect cast. There was a minimum of effort and dead-on accuracy. The fly hit the water 18 inches above the spot where the fish had risen. It went downstream a bit over a foot and the fish hit. She deftly raised the rod. Fish on! It took a few minutes to get the big rainbow in.
“It was a great way to end the day, sight casting to a rising trout and making the perfect cast. Life is good!”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 658.00 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-8-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake water is starting to cool off, which is helping the fishing. They have 84-degree temperatures as of Wednesday. Del says, “I’d say the biggest bite for the lake has been the walleye. The walleye have been really good this past week.” Anglers are bottom-bouncing from 28-36 feet around main lake points and secondary points. “Everybody seems to be catching them.” As far as the largemouth bass fishing goes, pretty much the early morning topwater bite seems to be on the “moving” baits rather than on poppers or the walk-the-dog style baits. Del says buzzbaits and the Whopper Plopper are working. Some of the shad have migrated into the creeks. He notes that threadfin shad appear headed about halfway to three-quarters back. “I think it’s the rains we’ve gotten that have pulled them back there, and (the Army Corps of Engineers) haven’t been running a bunch of water (at Bull Shoals Dam). The Corps has it at minimum flow.” The Kentucky bass seem to be around the channel swing banks or suspending over trees. There are tons of trees in Bull Shoals Lake, he says. Del adds that “you can never go wrong with a half-ounce football head jig on Bull Shoals Lake. Big worms are also working. Anything with red in it will work.” Crappie are mostly random these days. There are a couple of regular crappie anglers that Del seems often, but he said he hasn’t seen them going out lately.

(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).

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-8-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “The striper bite on Norfork Lake is awesome right now. My son and I are catching limits both morning and evening. I see everybody catching stripers, guides both live and artificial, trollers, and spooners.” Tom says the best bite is using live bait. If you can get out on the lake before light, say 5 a.m., and hit points with sloping flats around 35 to 40 feet like Koso, you can limit on hybrids and stripers before light or shortly thereafter. Once the sun comes up, the fish move to deeper water but are still catchable. Tuesday this week, Tom caught stripers in 42 feet of water and 1 hour later he had his limit in water depths of 130 feet. He says the trollers are having good luck this year because the stripers are high in the water column and eager to feed. In years past the stripers tended to stay close to the bottom and trolling lures proved very difficult to reach them. The best bite now is within sight of the dam from Georges Cove to the dam and from Thumb Point to Hand Cove. Look on any point or side of points starting in 40 feet of water and keep moving out, zig-zagging until you find them. Tom also reports that the white bass and smallmouth bass are feeding all over the lake on this year's shad hatch. “I see them in the main lake and halfway up the creek arms. One very good spot is the big flat below location 6B past Fout Marina. Small topwater plugs or spoons are the best bait to catch them.”

(updated 8-8-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Norfork Lake fishing has been consistently good for the last several weeks. Of course, as you would expect, there are times that one day is better than the other. I expect the strong bite to continue throughout August, assuming the weather patterns and the lake levels hold fairly stable.” Lou says the bite for striped bass and hybrid bass has been excellent. He said he’s finding striped bass and hybrid bass schooled up in deep water (60-80 feet) and the fish are typically suspended 30-50 feet down. He says he’s also found some big stripers and hybrids in 35-50 feet of water. These fish are 30 feet to the bottom. “I have had the best luck with deep-water fish before it gets light out in the morning, from about 5 a.m. to about 7 a.m. The fish are being found on bluff line points, but not necessarily in the main lake. At around 7 a.m. I move to a shallower bank, still not main lake that is holding a lot of bait. I am finding large schools of whites, hybrids and stripers feeding heavily on shad, and this has lasted until around 8:30 when they tend to disappear. The timing has been great for me, as I need to head back to work at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. Fishing is part of my job description, since I need to be able to help my guests find and catch fish. Tough job, but someone needs to do it.”
Lou adds, “I have been fishing two methods: live bait in the dark, then I switch to a spoon and start to vertical-jig. Live bait will work great all the time, but I enjoy spooning for fish. Best locations for striped and hybrid bass are from around Point 2 down and a little past the Jordan area, as well as by the dam. Look at secondary points back in the creeks and larger coves, but they do move to the main lake points at times. This is a large area, but there are lots of fish at many different locations at this time.
He says topwater action is still going in the mornings as the sun is starting to rise and can occur at any time of the day anywhere in the lake. Sunrise and sunset are still the best times for topwater fishing. In the area where Lou is fishing for striped bass, he says, the fish start to chase shad on the surface as the sun comes up. He has caught spotted bass, largemouth, whites and hybrids on a Zara Spook over the last couple of weeks. Large schools of whites are erupting from the 101 bridge to Cranfield Island and also up to the Red Bank area. Once you find the school creating white water, cast your favorite topwater bait or a blade-type bait such as a Kastmaster into the active fish and hang on. It is a blast catching one fish after another.
He says the walleye bite is still good. The walleye he has found have been in 35-50 feet of water on the bottom. “I caught fish on a spoon, vertical-jigging it off of the bottom. Troll a crankbait with lead core line, downriggers or inline weights in order to get your bait down to 30-40 feet of water. Troll along bluff lines or large flats. You can also find walleye hanging around brush piles in 25-40 feet of water. Live bait or spooning will work around the brush. You can also use a crawler harness with a blade and a bottom-bouncing weight to catch some nice fish. Some of the best colors of blades are chartreuse and orange.”
Crappie are scattered at this time and are being picked up while trolling for walleye. Some crappie are hanging around brush piles in the 30 feet range and can be caught on jigs or live bait. Norfork Lake level is dropping very slowly and currently sits at 553.12 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature has dropped from his last report and ranges 84-87 degrees depending on location and time of day. The main lake is clear and the some creeks and coves are stained.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 8-8-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the past week Norfork Lake fell 0.7 feet to rest at 2.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River System are 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 Norfork 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 flooding in 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. Dry Run Creek has cleared and is fishing much better. 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 8-8-2018) 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 quickl