Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 19, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report June 19, 2019.

White River

(updated 6-19-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says unseasonably mild temperatures this past week enhanced everybody's trout fishing experience, and the quality and quantity of trout brought in surpassed expectations. The favorite technique this week was, by far, fishing artificial baits. The Vibrax Blue Fox spinner, 3/16 ounces gold and 3/16 ounces rainbow trout, led the pack, with the olive and brown/orange jigs (Maribou and White River Zig Jigs) a very close second. “Six, seven, and up to nine browns have been reeled in daily to several boats this week; minnows were the go-to bait for the larger fish, but we heard that more than one browns was hooked with shrimp and PowerBait. Late-afternoon water rises make for a good time to bring out your nightcrawlers and stir up some memories of fishing with Grandma and Grandpa. Come to the river and catch a trout or two with us.”

(updated 6-19-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the clarity is awful, with a lot of light green moss in the water. The river level is low. The fishing is frustrating, but nonetheless it’s still good for trout. Small lures and sculpins are good bait choices – going that way, a 24-inch fish and a 6-pound fish were caught. Waxworms and PowerBait also will work.

(updated 6-12-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the previous week they had an inch and a half of rain, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.5 foot to rest at 22.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 10.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 feet to rest at seasonal power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.6 feet to rest at 6.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had light generation and some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.7 feet to rest at 16.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and reliable 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 well over the top of power pool, with 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 Rim 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 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down.)
John also said, “Last week I took Jack, a retired ophthalmologist, fishing. Jack spends the spring and fall here. He recently took the fly-fishing class that my wife, Lori, and I teach twice a year. Whenever he has friends or family visit, he hires me to take them out in the boat. Last week his old friend, John, was in town and we fished the White.
“We met at McDonald’s and drove over to Rim Shoals. We arrived a bit after 7:30 a.m. It was still cool but the weather forecast was for sunny conditions and a high temperature of 87 degrees. There was a heavy fog on the river that kept things cool until mid-morning. The fog was so dense that navigation was difficult, so I kept the speed down until it burned off. The water was pretty low, 2,750 cfs, or less than one full generator. This water level fishes well and was scheduled to last all day.
“We began the day with a casting class. John had never fly-fished and I taught him the basics, as quickly as I could, so that we could get on the water. We got in the boat and began fishing. Jack is an experienced fly-fisher, but John was the first one to hook and land a trout. In fact, he landed three fish before Jack got into the game. John was a natural. I was getting a bit concerned because Jack was not catching trout. They were rigged exactly the same. They had the same rod, reel, fly line, leader, tippet, flies (a pheasant tail nymph size 14 with a brown midge size 18 dropper), split shot and strike indicator. They were set at the same depth and drifting over the same water. Why was John catching trout while Jack wasn’t?
“I thought that it was a fluke and I was right. All of a sudden Jack began catching trout and quickly caught up with John. It was explained by my theory that the catching occurs in streaks. This is when one angler catches a few and then the other catches a few. Over time it generally evens out. The trick is to rely on basic strategy. You should concentrate on achieving a perfect drag-free drift and to set the hook quickly when you get a strike.
“At lunch, we had about 25 trout to the net. The largest was a fat 18-inch west slope cutthroat. We sat in the shade and enjoyed our lunch. We relaxed for a minute before returning to the river. At first the going was a bit slow but we were soon catching trout. It began to get hot. Jack and John had caught plenty of trout. We ended the day with between 45-50 trout to the net. There was no clear leader. They had both landed about the same number of trout. We pulled the plug and headed home.
“When your fishing buddy is on a hot streak, don’t worry. You could begin your streak soon.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 684.80 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).

(updated 6-12-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level is up 26 feet over normal and the clarity overall remains cloudy. The surface water temperature is upper 70s. Black bass are good. Topwaters are working best in the morning. Fish the old shorelines and the wind-blown pockets. Crappie are good. Jigs are a good bait choice, or anything that can go through the bushes. Focus on the brush piles. Catfish are good. You’ll find them in back of creeks using limblines to catch them. Walleye are good on bottom bouncers fished on the old shorelines. No reports on bream. Check out Del’s YouTube channel for his regularly updated video fishing report.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 573.56 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 6-19-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the stripers in Norfork Lake are now in their summer pattern. We have been catching fish from 30-60 feet in large schools in the channels near bluff walls. The best bait has been mid-size gizzard shad 4-7 inches on a downline set just above the fish. The cold overnight weather has dropped the lake from 82 degrees to 77 degrees but should come up fast unless the rain that is predicted this week is cold, then it will remain the same. The thermocline is around 20 feet and the water below is very murky. It will stay that way until the lake returns to its normal pool. Fishing has been good the past week. Both Sean and I have been limited out each day. Sean's client caught a 42-inch striper that was very skinny and only weighted 22 pounds. It should have been in the 30-pound range. The fish could not be released because the fight took too long. It was a shame to have to clean a big fish but that what happens this time of year.”
“On Tuesday I had first-time clients who had not fished for stripers. Nick is 13 years old and by the end of the trip it he was fishing like a pro. We had some luck at our first spot but the bite slowed so I had earlier found fish that were feeding around 7:30 in the morning. I moved there and set up my normal fishing pole routine of two float rods and five down rods. Jeff's rod went down, and right when I netted his fish the front pole went down and that continued around the boat; as each rod went down, I was netting another fish. The same time the two float rods were hit, but we were too busy fighting the other fish. The floats were 30 yards from the boat and by the time we started fighting those fish they had come all the way to the boat. In all we boated all seven fish. We were lucky because some were hybrids and we could release them and the others were kept to fill their limit. It was an experience both Jeff and Nick will never forget, nor will I.”
Tom says he is now fishing the main lake from Thumb Point to Hand Cove and the Dam Area. This pattern will hold true well into September. He adds that the walleye have moved to their summer pattern. They will be feeding in the 28- to 32-foot range. The best bite is usually from 8-11 a.m. Longline trolling crankbaits and bottom bouncers set just off the bottom running spinners with nightcrawlers.

(updated 6-12-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideway Resort said, “Who wants to striped bass fish! The striped bass bite has been pretty good the last couple of weeks. If you like to fish in the dark, when it is cool, quiet and calm, there are several good areas near our resort. I have had guests fishing all night long, and others fishing from sunset until around midnight. Still other guests enjoy the early morning bite and get on the lake around 4 a.m. and fish until about 9 a.m. The best bait has been live shad or large shiners, but vertical-jigging a spoon has also picked up some nice fish.
“This morning I had a difficult time finding fresh bait but had a few leftovers, so I headed to my first area and started fishing around 4:30 a.m. I dropped one bait down to about 30 feet, while sitting in 100 feet of water. I also started to vertical-jig a 1-ounce white spoon at the same depth. It wasn't more than 10 minutes before the live bait rod went singing and I landed a nice 9-plus pound striped bass. I continued to jig and got hammered on the spoon, but lost him halfway up. Over the next 45 minutes I landed two stripers on my spoon and two more on live bait. Not bad for a short time.
“Once it started getting light out, the bait and fish scattered. I headed out to a big main lake flat and found fish, but they would not hit my spoon. I moved locations to part way back into a major creek and found more scattered fish at depths from 10 feet down to 40 feet, and I was mainly in 50-80 feet of water. My only taker was hooked by casting my Kastmaster. I was doing a steady fast retrieval and was stopped dead in my tracks with a big fish taking off the other direction. To say the least, I only got to fight this fish for about a minute before he broke off.” Lou says walleye fishing has been very good whether you are dock fishing or fishing out on the lake. There have been many walleye caught off his dock over the last couple of weeks. Live crappie minnows have been working well, or smaller shiners. The best time has been after dark. The fish under his dock have come off the bottom in about 30 feet of water. The other location that has been producing some nice fish is on the normal pool shore line, which is just outside of the sunken buckbrush. The water depth will vary, but ranges 20-30 feet deep. Slow-trolling a crawler harness with a bottom bouncing weight has been working great. You can also drop shot a shiner to the same depth. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass are showing up in the same areas as the walleye. This morning, as the sun was rising, Lou says, he stopped to check out a few main lake points. While he was heading back into a creek, he had his Kastmaster tied on so he casted to the shoreline, letting the bait sink about 10 feet, and started to retrieve the bait, twitching it slightly. It wasn't long before he boated a smallie and a nice largemouth. They were probably in about 20-25 feet of water, he said. He adds that it has been tough finding crappie. With the higher-than-normal water level, the fish have plenty of cover all over the lake. The best areas to find confined crappie are under docks. Live bait or small jigs are working. You can also troll small crankbaits such as a Flicker Minnow or Shad in about 20-25 feet of water. The Norfork Lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 78-79 degrees. The water level has finally stabilized with a very slight daily rise and currently sits at 573.81 feet msl. The lake is clear with some areas having a slight stain. The lake is high, but in great condition for all your summertime water sports.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 6-12-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week Norfork Lake rose 1.7 feet to rest at 16.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had less generation and reliable 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 well over the top of power pool, with light generation and some wadable water. This will end when flooding recedes downstream. Expect heavy generation in the near future.
The Norfork has been slow. 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 out, it will be crowded. 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 6-12-2019) 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.