Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 3, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 3, 2019.

White River

(updated 7-3-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says holiday weekends are busy times on the river; we've got a big river and there is room for all who love to fish for trout (or who just love to be on or near the water). Put on an extra layer of patience: there are going to be a few novices out there who need assistance or more space, and remember that the natural resources we are blessed with here in Arkansas belong to us all. Our Game & Fish folks have worked to ensure the White River is adequately stocked and ready for the holiday and summertime traffic. Looks like we have a few more days of low water levels on the White River before big releases from Bull Shoals Lake Catch so we can still turn to the tried and true egg pattern/shrimp combination. The browns never tire of hitting a minnow and the sculpins are plentiful in the river right now so the browns are seeking them out. Enjoy celebrating this Fourth of July, be careful and be thankful!

(updated 7-3-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water has cleared, while the level now is low. There is some generation in the afternoons, but the water id down most of the day, they report. The trout bite for the past week was fair. Anglers are catching a few rainbows and a couple of brown trout. Also, there were six cutthroats caught the past week – none were caught here last year. They were caught on river rigs, PowerBait, Power Worms and shrimp. Also, a 16-inch rainbow was caught on a flyrod – “it jumped 3 feet out of the water,” they tell us.

(updated 7-3-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the previous week they had a quarter-inch of rain, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 2.9 feet to rest at 27.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.47 feet msl. This is 6.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 4 feet to rest at 4 feet above seasonal power pool and 10 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 8.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had light generation and reliable wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 2.1 feet to rest at 18.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.22 feet msl and 5.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had low generation and 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. We are currently having light generation and wadable water. This will end when flooding recedes downstream. We can expect heavy generation in the near future.
The White has fished very well. The hot spot has been Roundhouse Shoals. There have been some good hatches of sulphur mayflies that have created some great topwater action. 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, “We are blessed here by a diversity of trout species unequaled in the United States, and possibly in the world. For years the Grand Slam has been the epitome of a great day on the river. A grand slam is when you catch all four species of trout: rainbow, brown cutthroat and brook in one day. I have achieved this goal on several occasions and even did it once with dry flies. One day I did it twice and I have had young clients do it a couple of times on Dry Run Creek. It is a notable achievement.
“For the past few years I have been thinking about how the bar has been raised by the introduction of new trout species. I have recently been discussing this with T.L. Lauerman, the Conservation Chair of the White River Chapter 698 of Trout Unlimited. He has spearheaded the introduction of Bonneville Cutthroat trout to the Norfork and White rivers. Before this program our cutthroat species was the Snake River fine spotted cutthroat.
The introduction of the Bonneville cutthroat is a major program to introduce a cutthroat species that would naturally reproduce in our rivers, like the brown trout. This would give us two wild species. The jury is still out on whether they will successfully spawn, but in the meantime there has been some great fishing for this fine species. The current ultimate catch is a trophy “Bonny.” I have personally caught them up to 23 inches and consider them to be an excellent fighter and first-rate trout. The Bonnevilles have larger spots that are concentrated on the rear of the trout.
“Now, I have learned of the introduction of yet another cutthroat species, the Yellowstone cutthroat. I have fished for them on several occasions in Yellowstone Park and have caught them up to 23 inches. My wife, Lori, bested me by catching a 24-incher on the first day of our trip out there a few years ago. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission has planted several thousand Yellowstone Cutthroats in the White and Norfork rivers earlier this year and plan to do it again later in the year. The Yellowstone Cutthroat has large spots and a yellowish tan color and the vivid slash marks on its throat like all other cutthroat.
“These two new species give us a total of six distinct species in the White and Norfork rivers and give us the opportunity to catch a Super Grand Slam. That would be to catch a rainbow, brown, brook, west slope fine spot cutthroat, Bonneville cutthroat and Yellowstone cutthroat in one day. That is quite a challenge and I am ready to take it on. T.L. told me he is going to pursue it.
“If you accomplish it, drop me a line. It would be quite a coup to be the first angler to do it.”

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 7-3-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the stripers are still inconsistent. One of the main causes is the thermocline, which is usually by now around 32 feet this year – this summer it’s at 25 feet and the bait is staying higher and the stripers are still not in big schools yet. They are feeding on crawdads on the flats but they are hard to find feeding. Tom says he has been doing very well catching stripers off the bluffs in 125-150 feet of water. Some early fish are being caught at the 30-foot level and later in the morning he has seen them in the 60-foot range. “The bites start around 5:45 a.m. and last about 1 hour where I have been fishing,” he says. “By 7:30 on the southern end of the lake the bite for the most part is over. If you do not have your limit by then you will not get it.” Some fish are being caught using big umbrella rigs but Tom says he has not seen any fish caught using a spoon. The best bait right now is gizzard shad in the 4- to 10-inch range. “My rod spread is two floats with 2-ounce weights set at 38 feet and 42 feet, and seven down rods set from 30-60 feet; each rod is set at a different depth. I continue to fish the lower end of the lake off the bluffs but some guides are catching them on deep flats early. You need to get out and use your deep finder to find some fishing on the flats; otherwise, find a fish on a bluff and start fishing – if there's one there will others around.
“I continue to fish the main lake from Thumb Point to Hand Cove and the Dam Area, this pattern will hold true well into September,” he said. Tom adds that the walleye have moved to their summer pattern. They are feeding just below the mudline, which is at 22 feet. You can also catch them in the 28- to 32-foot range. The best bite is usually 8-11 a.m. Go with longline trolling crankbaits and bottom bouncers set just off the bottom or running spinners with nightcrawlers.

(updated 7-3-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideway Resort said, “Happy Fourth of July to all. Have a safe and enjoyable holiday period. Norfork Lake is mainly in its summertime pattern. This means fish are starting to go deep. Most fish species are hanging out in the 20-30 feet range. Norfork Lake has formed a thermocline at about 20-25 feet and the fish are hanging very close to it.”
The best bite on the lake at this time, is for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. At sunrise, you can find some topwater action up close to the shoreline and out on long shallower points. Yesterday my daughter and I had fun throwing Zara Spooks and Whopper Ploppers. The fish are very aggressive. When you see a small swirl in the water cast your bait at the swirl and give it a twitch, the fish will hammer it. As the sun gets over the tree line the fish start to go deeper. Once they go deep start looking just outside of the sunken buck brush on the wind blown points, which will be in about 20 – 25 feet of water. Start throwing a grub or just about any dark plastic, and work it along the bottom. You don’t need to work it fast, but you will need to pay attention as the bite at this time has been very light.
The striped bass have gone deep earlier this year than normal. You will find stripers anywhere from 30 – 70 feet, either suspended or on the bottom. I have been having difficulty in finding large numbers of stripers in any one area. They are scattered throughout the lake. Live bait has been working the best, but you have to work at it. When you find the fish, you can also vertical jig and spoon and you will pick up a few nice fish. Trolling large swimbaits is also picking up some nice fish keeping the bait at about 50 feet deep back in some of the major creeks. The best locations to start looking for this species are from the Robinson area down to the dam and also back to the Big Creek area. They will be up in the 30 feet range early in the morning, then head deeper as the sun comes up.
Norfork Lake has rising to 573.78, but currently is starting to drop with both of the generators running constantly. Both generators running for the entire day will drop the lake about 3 inches per day. The main lake is fairly clear, with the creeks and coves slightly stained. The current surface water temperature is in the mid-80s.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-3-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week Norfork Lake rose 2.1 feet to rest at 18.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.22 feet msl and 5.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had low generation and 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. We are currently having light generation and wadable water. This will end when flooding recedes downstream. We can expect heavy generation in the near future.
The Norfork has been slow. Navigate this stream with caution 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 7-3-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and greatly cleared. 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.