Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 26, 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 26, 2019.

White River

(updated 6-26-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Summer is officially here and things are getting hot, not only weather-wise, but also in terms of fishing. The river level has been consistently low for the past week, so it's been a great time to pull up to a favorite brown trout spot and throw out a minnow. The rainbow bite has been excellent with many 13- to 14-inch rainbows being brought to the boat daily. The pink worm has been successful – combine that with frozen shrimp for great results.”
A rise in the river level is anticipated in the coming weeks as the Army Corps of Engineers works on its flood control efforts. That means as the river level rises, drifting near the bank with a live or artificial worm will bring in the rainbows. Plenty of sunshine requires plenty of sunscreen. Come prepared, but make sure to keep the sunscreen away from your fishing gear and baits. Seems that sunscreen not only repels harmful rays from above but repels fish as well. Clean your hands of sunscreen before handling rods, reels and baits and don't use a spray in the boat. “Be prepared for the heat and join us on the White River for a some great fishing – regardless of water releases from the dam.”

(updated 6-26-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water looks brown. They’ve had a lot of rain lately, and the river level as of early Monday afternoon was high, with two generators running at the dam. They report a lot of rainbows caught along with a few brown trout. Overall, the bite rates good. Waxworms and PowerBait are the baits to try.

(updated 6-26-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the previous week they had a weather event produce four inches of rain, followed by hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.9 foot to rest at 23.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.73 feet msl. This is 9.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock remained steady at seasonal power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.1 feet to rest at 7.7 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.9 foot below the top of flood pool. The White saw light generation and some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 16.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.48 feet msl and 7.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had high generation and no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are well over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation in the near future when downstream flooding clears.
The White has fished very 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 was fishing on a sunny day, with temperatures in the 90s and little if any wind. When I got off the river, my Suburban had been sitting in the sun for hours and was toasty warm. I was perspiring when I headed home. It took a cold shower and a change of clothing to cool me down. Summer is here and we have to deal with it. Here in Arkansas, summers can get pretty hot. Over the years, I have developed strategies to survive summer fishing.
“The first is to wade. To me, there is nothing like wade fishing, with the water lapping against my waders, being surrounded by gin-clear water and being able to easily see the fish. The water is a constant 57 degrees. If you want to cool off you just wade a little deeper. If it is brutally hot (over 100 degrees) I will wet wade. I wear my wading boots with neoprene booties but no waders. It is minimalism at its finest. Dress to get wet. If you are too hot, take a swim. This is the ultimate hot weather survival strategy.
“There is only one problem. The water has to be low enough to wade. That is great right now, but in a few days downstream flooding is going to clear and the Corps of Engineers is going to begin generation with a vengeance. I expect high water for most of the summer. In situations like that, there are streams like the Spring River, the North Fork of the White, the Buffalo River and Crooked Creek that are not subject to generation.
“You can fish early or fish late to avoid the heat of the day. I prefer to fish early before the sun has risen high in the sky. I will get on the river before sunrise. There is nothing more beautiful than the sun rising and cutting through the fog. The problem here is that my regular fishing buddy – my wife, Lori – is not an early riser. By the time she is up and has walked our dogs, it is getting warm. A lot of times I will go early and meet up with her when she arrives.
“Finally there is the strategy of dressing for the heat and fishing through it. In a boat there is nowhere to hide. You need to protect your skin from the sun and take advantage of any breeze. You want light, breathable fabrics. I wear lightly colored tropical pants and long sleeved shirts. I always wear sun gloves. A lot of my fellow guides wear Buffs (light woven fabric neck gear that can be pulled to protect their faces and ears but I prefer full brimmed straw hats. I wear light wading shoes to complete my gear. All of it is light and quick-drying and I can take a quick dip to cool off.
“It is possible to handle the heat. Get ready, it is coming.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 687.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).

(updated 6-26-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level remains way up, and Monday morning it was 27 feet high. The surface water temperature was 79 degrees. The bream bite is poor, but he says the fish are starting to suspend. Crappie, likewise, are poor. Black bass, though, are providing good responses for anglers. Use your topwaters in the morning and come back with jigs for the evening. Also try a swimbait for some action. Catfish are biting fair on the limblines, he says. As for walleye, trolling is doing well for folks. Check out Del’s YouTube channel for his regularly updated video fishing report with various baits and patterns he’s using for the bass, including a new report he put up late last week.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 573.82 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 6-26-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 16.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.48 feet msl and 7.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had high generation and no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are well over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation in the near future when downstream flooding clears.
The Norfork has fished 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. There is some work being done at the hatchery that has affected access to the upper areas on the creek. 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.|
John also said, “(Last Saturday) my wife, Lori, and I had a guide trip on Dry Run Creek. Ron Beasley asked me to take his nieces Emerson (Emy) and Easton fishing on Dry Run Creek. Ron is the fly-tying chairman for the Sowbug Roundup. We have both served on the committee for several years and have become friends. Lori offered to accompany me on the trip in order to give the girls more personal attention and increase the opportunity to land some good trout. I quickly agreed. I always enjoy working with her any chance I get.
“We met Ron and the girls at Dry Run Creek at 7:30 a.m. We furnished all the gear that they needed: waders, rods, flies and all other terminal tackle. Lori and I both carried large boat nets. A small net just makes a big fish angry.
“We decided to split the girls up. Emy was to fish with me and Easton went with Lori. We all walked way upstream. There was construction on the upper end of the fish hatchery. Several of the discharge pipes were shut down. As a result, the water level was about a foot lower than usual. I was concerned but went on hoping for the best.
“Lori and I were working near each other and Ron was moving between us to keep up with the action and take photos. Lori’s client, Easton, caught the first fish, a nice, fat, 20-inch rainbow. Then they caught another. It was a stout 19-inch rainbow. We still had not landed a trout despite having several takes.
“Finally we landed a small trout. In fact, we landed about six trout all under 15 inches over the next hour. We hooked three much larger trout. The first one slipped the hook. The second one broke off. I got a good look at it and it went about 25-inches. A few minutes later we hooked another big trout. It slipped the hook after about a 5-minute struggle. When I checked the fly, it was entangled in another fly. I recognized the fly immediately. It was the sowbug that had been broken off a few minutes before. We had hooked the same trout twice in a matter of minutes.
“We had hooked three trophies with no success. I was a bit frustrated but was determined to land a trophy. I tied on a chartreuse mopfly, an item that I had never fished. A few casts later there was a solid strike. I looked down and saw a huge brown trout on the bright fly. I grabbed my net and eased into the water to have a better angle for netting the trout. I calmly coached Emy on how to fight the big brown. She took her time and slowly wore him down. During the 10-minute fight it never took a long run. We were lucky and the big fish finally surrendered to the net.
“I carefully measured the brown and it was a hair under 28 inches long. It was thick. I don’t know what it weighed but it had to go well over 12 pounds. We moved the fish into quiet water to get a good photo and then took our time to carefully release him. It was the biggest trout that I have seen landed on Dry Run Creek in several years.
“During this time, Lori had netted several trout. After we released the big brown it was like someone had turned the switch off. I don’t think we got another hit for the rest of the morning. I somehow think that we used up all of our luck landing the big brown.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 6-26-2019) 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.