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Established 1954
Catch a Rainbow!

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 22, 2018

Had several boats out each day this week 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.

brown troutnice brownbrown

White River

(updated 8-22-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the rains of the last week have brought cooler temperatures, but the fishing is still hot. The guides have been pulling in 12- to 13-inch rainbows regularly. It’s making for great action and wonderful memories. Frozen shrimp and PowerBait have been the go-to, but many guides say you can't beat the real thing and have been taking live crawdads as their favorite bait for the morning. With the water still at minimum flow, smaller gold or silver and blue spoons have been doing well off the riverbank. Jig fishing in the deeper holes has also been very popular with olive or orange jigs pulling in the fish. “This break in the heat is a great time to get out on the river and catch some nice-sized trout!”

(updated 8-22-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is fair and the water level is up and down with the generation – 6-8 generators are running each day. The trout bite is good, though things can be a bit slow, for both browns and rainbows.

(updated 8-22-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said late last week that during the previous week, they saw several rain events that combined for an inch of rainfall at Cotter, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.3 feet to rest at 3.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 37.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.2 feet to rest at 3.4 feet below seasonal power pool and 17.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at 1.8 feet below seasonal power pool and 10.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White saw less generation with wadable water every day. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 3.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 27.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and wadable water every day. 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 a few sulphurs 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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 657.51 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 552.38 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-22-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is still in its summer fishing pattern. This typically lasts until around mid-September, when the striped bass will then scatter and head to the cooler water northward. The lake currently has a thermocline that has set up around 25-30 feet. There is warm water down to the thermocline, then the water temperature drops drastically below the line. Many of the fish species hang out right around the thermocline, so fishing in 20-35 feet of water will produce some nice fish. “Overall fishing has stayed fairly consistent since my last report,” Lou says. “The biggest change has been with the striped bass. They are going deeper; at least I am finding the larger fish on the bottom in around 60-70 feet of water. This is not to say you will not find striped bass shallower.
“One of our guests at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort was jigging a half-ounce chrome Kastmaster in 35 feet of water the other day and landed a nice 15-pound fish. I am marking fish from 35 feet down to the bottom. My fishing time typically is from around 5:30 a.m. until about 9:30 a.m. In the dark I have been using live shad set at 35 and 45 feet deep. I have found large schools of fish cruising around in the dark. As the sun comes up they do tend to go deeper. When they go deeper, I switch to a spoon and start to vertical-jig at the depth where I find the fish. When I find a large school I also cast out a large Rooster Tail-type spinning bait. Cast the bait out and let it sink to the bottom, then reel up though the fish and hang on.
“The striped bass are being very aggressive at this time and are hammering the baits and are giving a great fight. One major item to remember is that most of the striped bass you catch at this time will die if you release them, due to the temperature of the water. So when you catch a fish you should keep it and when you get your limit, switch your fishing tactics and fish for other species. Catch and release is not a good idea for striped bass at this time. Trolling is also picking up some good fish. You will need to get your baits down to below 35 feet to catch some decent fish. I have been fishing points from a little south of Point 2 down to the dam and a little east of the dam up toward Jordan area.”
Lou says walleye fishing has also been good, but they are at all depths. He says he has caught walleye in 50 feet of water as well as at 20-30 feet of water. A crawler harness with bottom-bouncing weights is working well, as well as deep-diving crankbaits, as long as you can get them very close to the bottom. Brush piles in 30-40 feet of water are also holding some nice fish. Bass fishing has been fair. Lou says he has picked up some nice spotted bass, as well as largemouth bass, in 25-35 feet of water by vertical-jigging a spoon. Brush piles are also holding some fish. Early and late in the day you can also get a few nice bass on topwater back in the creeks and coves. Norfork Lake is holding fairly stable on water depth. Currently the lake depth is 552.41 feet msl. The main lake is clear and some of the creeks and coves are stained. The current surface water temperature is in the mid-80s.

(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.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 8-22-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 3.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 27.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and wadable water every day. 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 water here has fished very well. There have been some nice midge and sporadic sulphur hatches that have provided some limited 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 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.
John also related: “This past weekend my wife sister, Terri, came over from Memphis to visit. Terri likes to fish, so we all went to the Norfork for a morning of fly-fishing. I had gone earlier with my neighbor Mike, and my wife, Lori, and Terri came an hour or so later.
“It was a cool morning with a forecast high of 90 degrees. I expected to be home before it got too warm. There was a heavy fog on the river that soon burned off. The sky was clear and there was little wind. The river was on the bottom and was gin clear. I walked far into the catch-and-release section. Mike followed and found a spot to fish on the way up. I was fishing a Copper John No. 14 with a ruby midge No. 18. I tried one spot for an hour with no luck, so I moved upstream to another spot. I fished it for a while and landed a 20-inch rainbow. I fished a bit longer and landed a 19-inch Bonneville cutthroat as Lori walked up.
“Lori had rigged Terri with a Woolly Bugger and put her in a likely spot on the way up. I told Lori to take my spot. She soon landed a fat 21-inch rainbow. I decided to walk downstream and check on Terri. She had broken off a good fish and needed some lead to repair her rig. I fixed it and went back upstream.
I moved into a spot near Lori and I hooked and landed a fat 20-inch rainbow. The spot where I had hooked the trout was near the middle of the river in very heavy water. I had to wade out of the spot in order to land the trout. It was treacherous! Terri walked up as I was releasing the fish.
“She had broken off a couple of nice trout. Her leader was wrecked and not worth saving. I figured that the leader and tippet she was using was too old and had deteriorated, causing her to break off all of the trout she had hooked. I attached a new leader and tippet. I rigged her the same way as I was.
“It was getting warm and was about time to head back home. I wanted her to catch a trout before the day was over. I put her into the spot where I had just hooked a good fish. It was tricky wading in but once we got there it was good fishing. She hooked a trout on the second cast but lost it in the heavy current. I waded to the bank but stayed close.
“About a couple of minutes later I looked up and saw that her rod was bent. Terri had a big trout on. Lori was fishing nearby and told Terri that she would be unable to land the trout there and needed to wade out to quieter water. Lori cranked in her line and got out of Terri’s way.
“I waded out and helped Terri wade to the bank. She concentrated on keeping steady pressure on the trout and at the same time she let the trout run when he wanted to. It was an epic battle, but Terri prevailed. She had landed a stout 24-inch hook-jawed male rainbow. We took some quick photos and released the trout. Terri had landed the biggest fish of the day, a trophy rainbow.
“Old tippet had kept Terri from landing trout. Once she was properly rigged with a fresh leader and tippet, she was able to land a good fish.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 8-22-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are a bit higher. 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.