Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 22, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 22, 2019.

White River

(updated 5-22-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says Memorial Day signals the start of summer with all the fun family traditions of picnics, fishing, camping, fishing, barbecues, fishing and … more fishing, and fishing the White River for a boatload of trout makes memories for all ages. This past week has seen consistent water levels generated from Bull Shoals Dam, an easy flow of about 3,000 to 6,000 cfs, and that means the trout aren't being spooked by extreme changes in their environment. Our best bait was the Blue Fox spinner, gold, 3/16-ounce or ¼-ounce, but the Thomas Buoyant red/gold hammered ¼-ounce spoon was a close second. “We've seen some mossy areas on the river these last few weeks, so try to keep your bait not too far below the surface of the Cwater (keep your rod tip high). The water level is perfect for those jigs. Maribou jigs or White River Zig Jigs are attracting a lot of attention (brown-olive, black-green, brown-orange). Stick to sculpins and minnows for the browns – they're just big meat eaters – and the bigger your bait, the larger the trout you'll hook. We'd love for you to include some trout fishing in your summer plans, and Cotter is the Trout Capital of the U.S. of A. Stop in and say ‘Hey’ when you find your way to the Arkansas Ozarks.”

(updated 5-22-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Sunday that during the past week they had a half-inch of rain in Cotter, warm temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.5 feet to rest at 17.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 15.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock 1.9 feet to rest at 1.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 4.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 3.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had light generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.6 feet to rest at 13 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 10.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork we had less generation and reliable wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are well over the top of power pool, and there currently is light generation and some wadable water. This will end when flooding recedes downstream. Expect heavy generation in the near future. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. 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 prince nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down).

(updated 5-15-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity of the river is “pretty clear.” They add, “There are thousands of bugs on the water.” The river level, which has been high, is now low with under four generators running. The trout bite is fair. “They’re still catching a few rainbows,” they report. “There is lots of moss.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 680.89 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).

(updated 5-22-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said late last week that the lake level was up 16 feet to 677 feet msl. “You’ve got a lot of water in the lake. that makes it fun, and we’re still catching fish.” Water clarity is about 25-30 feet. Down by the dam on a flat day, you can see quite a ways down, he said. So, that means you can fish the lake two different ways: clear and dirty. If you're going to fish in the clear

Water, he said, there's a good tube bite. You can drag a tube, and what ou want to do is fish the points, the old shoreline. Mark the bush and come back

out 10-15 feet and cast. Throw a tube, and a football jigs working in there as well. Carolina rigs are also working. “What I do is I like to go find a little dirtier water. There’s still some late spotters up and there’s some bed fish still, so go ahead and hit them up with the Senko. There’s also a Beaver bite, flipping the bushes, pushing the cover. That’s going to work good in the dirty water.”

He notes that there is a lot new water to explore, and if anglers get into the mulch pads, the frog is still working there. Again, it helps if there is a little dirtier water for that approach. “You can catch a few on a frog, and that’s a lot of fun,” he said. “Also

if you get up early there's a

topwater bite that's starting, so in isolated cover you can throw a Whopper Plopper or

throw a Zara Spook. If you're looking to cover some water, you can also throw the Lucky Craft, the Gun Fish, if the water is real clear. That will put a couple of fish in the boat for you.”
Also working, Del said, is when a front is coming through and there are clouds, anglers can do some power fishing with a spinnerbait. The Whopper Plopper is st arting to work there, too. “You kind of want a little bit of wind, a little bit of clouds, a little bit of dirty water. Same thing with the buzzbait.” So, the story is, if you’re on Bull Shoals, Del says, there’s “a bunch of different ways to catch them.” Also, the smallmouth bass and Kentucky bass seem to be out toward the main lake now, while back in the arms and creeks, if you get the “skinny, dirty water,” there seems to be a bit more largemouth action back there.


Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 570.25 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 5-22-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “The week that was supposed to be did not happen. We had the warming spell and full moon but the shad did not spawn. The later part of the week, we had colder weather and heavy rain and that cooled the water down. The stripers are still feeding heavy at first light until the sun comes up, then the bite dies. What I have seen the last few days is fish are now suspending in the 35-45 feet range, which means downline fishing is starting. I have caught several stripers on downlines, which is a 2- to 4-ounce weight with a leader and hook straight down – thus it's called downline fishing. I now have started fishing channel swings next to bluffs and I have long lines, planer boards and downlines to cover the whole water column.
“I will next start using weighted floats set at 35 and 40 feet with 6-inch gizzard shad as bait. We are still fishing the Big Creek area but have move out of the creeks and now fish the mid area. Soon we will be fishing both Big Creek and the main lake in deep water flats next to bluffs.
“The other method to catch stripers is pitch live bait into the brush early morning and late afternoon evenings. Pitching live bait into the brush is very effective. Some guides use this method very effectively, but you will get hung up a lot and miss a lot of fish that are roaming. A better method is to stay out and fish the old shoreline. I have found over the years the fish still relate to the old shoreline when the lake rises. They just move up when they are active, then move back as the sun comes up.”
The walleye bite is very strong right now. Tom’s sources tell him they are using bottom bouncers set at 15 and 25 feet of water with either a nightcrawler or Flicker Shad crankbait trolled at 0.75 mph off the points. Lot of shorts are being caught along with some nice-size keepers. The high water will alter the crappie bite. Until the water warms up, they will stay in the deep brush piles, but once it warms up look for stained water and find some buckbrush. The best method is to dip and cork and minnow into the brush. It's very effective in catching spawning crappie.

(updated 5-15-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing continues to be good even with constant weather pattern changes. “Yes, our lake has risen roughly 11 feet since my last report, two weeks ago, but things are becoming much more stable. All species are biting, but the patterns have changed with all the new space the fish have to play in and all the new brush that has gone under water. High water is a blessing to the fish population, especially when it happens after most of the species have spawned. We will see the effect of this year’s higher water in about three years with increased fish population, as well as increases in size.”

The striped bass and hybrid bass bites have been steadily improving. They are being caught throughout the lake. The best locations at this time are partway, to most of the way, back into major creeks. “But I am starting to see a few of this species finally starting to move out to main lake points which is typically the norm for this time of year. This morning I found a huge school of hybrids near a main lake point feeding on shad. I ended up landing four in the 7- to 8-pound range, on a 6-inch paddle tail swimbait in a sexy shad color. As soon as it started to get light out the bait and fish moved on. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had almost a full house of guests with us last week and the majority of them were striped bass fishermen and women. Over the week I think they fished the entire lake and had great success on most days. The best bait for them was live shad or shiners. Free lining the bait with no weight caught fish, as did setting down lines at 20 and 30 feet deep. Most of the fish they found were back in major creeks in 30-45 feet of water. Some of the fish were close to shore on the deep side, but others were out in the middle. Vertical jigging with a spoon has also been producing some nice fish back in the same areas in 30-35 feet of water on the bottom.”
The bass bite has also been very good. The best location for this species is inside of the sunken brush. Some of the most productive areas have been long points that have been totally submerged, with some of the brush just slightly above the water line. The fish will be hanging near the brush to just outside of the brush. Use worms, lizards, centipedes or just about any plastic bait, worked slowly along the bottom. There are occasions that you will only see your line moving off to one side – if you notice the movement, set the hook. Spinnerbaits iare also working ripping them back through the brush. The fun part with fishing inside of the brush is getting the fish out. Topwater action has slowed for now but will pick up again soon. Even if you don't notice the fish hitting the surface, throw a topwater bait into the brush and you will be able to call up some nice fish. Once the water temperature reaches 70-plus degrees we will start seeing the bass exploding.
Bluegill have started to spawn in the backs of creeks and coves in very shallow water. Small jigs are picking up some nice fish. The crappie bite has changed over the last couple of weeks. Most have spawned out and have moved out to their 30-feet-deep brush. The water level rose and has somewhat scattered the fish. Some are being caught at the edges of the sunken brush in 18-25 feet of water. Trolling small crankbaits will still work, but using small jigs once you find the fish will also pick up a few nice ones. Walleye are showing up with the stripers, hybrids and whites chasing the bait fish. You will pick up some nice fish with live bait or by casting a swimbait, an A-rig or suspending jerkbait to the shoreline. The best time to catch this species is sunrise and sunset. The Norfork Lake water level is 568.9 feet msl. The main lake ranges from crystal clear, to slightly stained to very stained depending on location. “Most of the coves and creeks I have been in are clear to slightly stained. The lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning ranged from 66-68 degrees depending on location.”

(updated 5-8-2019) Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service said that with the rain they had this past week Norfork Lake is up about 10 feet and the water temperature is in the mid- to upper 60s. The upper end of the lake the water is stained with some debris floating. The rest of the lake down to the dam and up Big Creek is clear. There is not very much topwater activity going on. When there is some, it’s just a few coming up sporadic. If they are close enough to cast to, they will usually hit your lure. Throw a Spook, soft jerkbait or a wake-type bait. “When the fish aren’t feeding on the surface, I throw a swimbait and it will catch stripers, hybrids, whites, walleye and all three bass species. I even caught a couple crappie. At night, throw a stick bait to the edge of the brush close to the bank and retrieve the lure SLOW back to the boat,” Steve says.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 5-22-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Sunday that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 1.6 feet to rest at 13 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 10.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork we had less generation and reliable wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are well over the top of power pool, and there currently is light generation and some wadable water. This will end when flooding recedes downstream. Expect heavy generation in the near future.The Norfork has fished well. Navigate this stream with caution as 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 ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper (size 14). The fishing is better in the morning. Dry Run Creek is fishing well. With school just about out it will be crowded soon. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and white mop flies. 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 5-22-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. The smallmouths are more active with the warm conditions. 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.