Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 15, 2015

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report August 15, 2018.

White River

(updated 8-15-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says an atmosphere of stillness and waiting seems to pervade the shops, parks and an entire community with the onset of the school year, and the same is true on the river. This week has seen a slowdown, as is normal for August, with less traffic on the river and fewer anglers vying for the biggest, brightest trout. “And we found some!” they say. “Several beauties were brought in for photos, lured in by sculpins. One lunker brown was hooked on a little shrimp to the delight of a new trout fisher.” The average size of the rainbows here in the Ozark region of The Natural State seems to be increasing and they're still attracted by a flash of gold (Little Cleos, 1/6-ounce for now) and the scent of shrimp. The pattern for water releases continues to be very, very low from early morning until midafternoon. Late in the day, Southwestern Power releases increasingly more water through Bull Shoals Dam until late evening, when SPA drops it down to below minimum flow again. “Those river guides are expert at finding a way through the shoals to the best and deepest holes and instructing fishers on the habits and habitat of each species you'll see. Come and test their skills … and yours! See you on the river.”

(updated 8-15-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said this past week was a “really good week.” The clarity is clear, and the river starts at minimum flow, at noon there is the beginning of generated water, and then the river rises. The trout bite is good. PowerBait and worms are the way to go. They report nice brown trout caught on jigs.

(updated 8-15-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said late last week that during the previous week, they had several rain events that combined for 3.5 inches of rainfaill in Cotter, along with hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.6 feet to rest at 3.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 37.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.6 feet to rest at 3.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 17.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 1.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 10.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had less generation with wadable water every day. Norfork Lake fell 0.6 feet to rest at 3 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 27.2 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 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 (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 combination is a size 14 Copper John with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down.
John also said, “Last week end I had a client, Todd, who was originally from East Tennessee. Though he is now a college football coach in Louisiana, he missed fly-fishing the small mountain streams he enjoyed in the Great Smoky Mountains, where he was raised and thought he would try trout fishing in Arkansas.
“I am originally from Tennessee and I have fished the section of the Smokys that he was familiar with. My daughter went to college in Knoxville and I have fished there quite a bit. I backpacked a section of the Appalachian Trail there and fished the upper reaches of the mountains. My wife, Lori, and I were married just outside the Great Smoky Mountain National Park in Townsend, Tenn., and fished in the park just after our wedding ceremony. I had fished all of the streams that Todd had and I had a good understanding of his angling background.
“The fishing there is quite different from the conditions that we have here. The streams are, for the most part, natural flows and are not subject to generation (there are a few TVA dams in the area). The streams are small and over grown with rhododendron and hardwoods. The fish are small, wild and hard to come by, with a few native brook trout.
“We arrived on the White River around noon. It was on the bottom, the sky was clear and the sun was unrelenting. The high temperature was to be in the mid-90s with a light wind. We were fishing from the boat and I suggested that we use my rod as it was already rigged.
“The first fish he hooked was a fat 18-inch rainbow. He started stripping in the fish and quickly lost it. I explained that the fish here are much bigger (we were in a catch-and-release section) and you cannot successfully force them in. I suggested that he put them on the reel. He struggled a bit but soon caught on and began landing trout, finishing the half-day with over a dozen nice trout.
“The next day we spent the morning on the Norfork. I thought that the smaller size of the river and its wadability would be more familiar to him. I prefer the Norfork because I always seem to catch bigger trout there. Todd wanted to use his fly rod. It was a nice Orvis rod and a new spring and pawl Battenkill reel. I was a bit concerned about the reel because the drag was very light and I was not able to adjust it very much.
“The first trout we hooked was about a really fat 20-plus-inch rainbow. He clamped down on the line and broke it off. It was too much pressure. I had to re-rig and I reminded him that he had to let the big ones run. On the next cast he hooked about a 30-inch brown. It took off like a scalded dog. The reel wasn’t able to slow it down. There was not enough pressure to keep the line taut.
“We hooked four more really large trout, with the same results. They were all too much for the light reel, with the nonexistent drag. I had never had a client hook so many big trout in such a short period of time. I told him he didn’t have enough reel. We finally managed to land an 18- and a 14-inch rainbow. These were the smallest fish he hooked that day.
“Todd was not in the least bit frustrated. He was having the time of his life. He had never encountered big fish like we have here, and he liked it. The Norfork reminded him of East Tennessee except that the trout were much larger. He sent me an email to let me know that he bought a new reel with a heavy disc drag.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 657.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-15-2018) 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.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-15-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake striper bite has been very good this past week. “We fished every day and had limits each day up to Sunday. Sunday, the wind was strong and from the east and the schools we have been seeing did not show up. Between my son and I we did catch 11 stripers but that's the lowest number caught this past week. Fishing is awesome right now. My son and I are catching limits both morning and evening. Everybody has been catching stripers using live and artificial, trolling and spooning.” Tom says the best bite is using live bait. If you can get our before light – say, 5 a.m. – and hit points with slopping flats around 35 to 40 feet like Koso, Thumb, Point 1, and Dam Cove, you should catch your limit of hybrids and stripers before light or shortly thereafter. Once the sun comes up the fish move to deeper water but are still catchable. Tom says they are catching stripers from 70-130 feet. “The striper schools are roaming, and when you hit them you will have three or four rods down like we had today. There is nothing like having seven rods out and four of the seven are on the floor with fish and others have no bait on them.” He says the stripers continue to move toward the dam. Do not be afraid to fish the channel from the dam north, Tom adds. You will find roaming fish out ready to take your bait. The white bass and small largemouths are feeding all over the lake. The problem is they are only around 10 feet and stay up feeding for only a few seconds then move another 50 yards. It's very hard to stay on them. Your best bet is find a large cove where they are feeding and watch how they are moving; the fish will move in a big circle. After the first two feeds you should be able to figure out there direction and be in position 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 8-15-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 0.6 feet to rest at 3 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 27.2 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 lately. There have been some nice midge, caddis and sulphur hatches that have provided some good topwater action. Navigate this stream with caution. Last year’s flooding caused 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 (size 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 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 8-15-2018) 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.