Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 17, 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 17, 2019.

White River

(updated 7-17-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The rainbow catch around Cotter on the White River has been spectacular. Since implementing the new keep levels in January 2018, we've seen a steady improvement in the size of our rainbows. Favorite bait this week was the good old-fashioned worm, redworms or nightcrawlers, your choice. Or, if drifting in a jon boat, you might use the bubblegum pink scented worm with or without the white "mousetail" head. The guides capture river minnows and this week brought some nice-size browns to the boats, nothing oversized, but good, healthy fighters, not to mention a few beautiful 18-20 inch cutthroats. The 1/8 =-ounce moss green and orange-brown jigs are continuing to catch the attention of quite a few trout. The water level, like the weather, is fluctuating between lots of water and dry spells. If a pattern has developed, it is lower water throughout the morning here in the Cotter area with afternoon releases showing up at 4 p.m. and rising until midnight. The lake dropped a foot or two in the last week – still near the top of flood pool – but the releases have been managed very nicely so far, especially based on the high water to the east and south of us. See you at the river.

(updated 7-17-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river level is high and the trout bite is excellent. In fact, they say things have been astounding in that they’ve seen more 14- to 18-inch rainbow trout than they’ve ever seen in the river. They report that some people are complaining because they’re too big and they can only keep one fish over 14 inches. Rainbows are eating up PowerBait, pink PowerWorms and smaller crankbaits. The brown trout are not doing as well as the rainbows because of the fluctuating water. They tell us, “It is like the rainbows are on steroids and the Game and Fish Commission must be doing something right.”

(updated 7-17-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the previous week they had several minor rain events that combined for a trace, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1 foot to rest at 26 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1 foot to rest at 3 feet above seasonal power pool and 11 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 7 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 15.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 8.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water during the 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 now having heavy generation and expect it to continue for the foreseeable future.
The White has fished very well. The hot spot has been the 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 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it; use lead to get your flies down).
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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 686.99 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-10-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level continues stay well above normal pool; as of Tuesday afternoon it was 29 feet high. The water is murky. The surface water temperature was 86 degrees. The bream bite is good. Fish the bluffs or the rocky points with redworms and crickets. No reports on crappie. Black bass will be good in the early morning by fishing topwater baits. Catfishing is good with limblines and trotlines. Walleye are good if you’re trolling; target 20 feet depth. 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 571.34 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 7-17-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the stripers are beginning to school on Norfork Lake, but not in the locations they usually can be found this time of year. The hybrids are going crazy off the deep points from Big Creek to Point 1. About 6 a.m. they are feeding on threadfin shad and the topwater bite may last up to an hour. The best live bait bite starts around 5:45 a.m. and can last up to 7 a.m. but usually not in the same area. You have to keep moving around the area you’re fishing because the schools are very deep, 60-80 feet, and keep moving around off the deep side of points from School bus Point to Koso Point. You have to stay in deep water to catch fish this year. Channel swings next to deep points are the best locations. The three baits are working very well right now are live gizzard shad, spoons and a Kastmaster bucktail with a spinner. “I have not seen many fish caught trolling this past week but I'm sure they have been catching some on swimbaits and big umbrella rigs. Stripers are also being caught in Shoal Creek around 6:30 in the morning along the bluff wall. The only problem is, it's not every day. The walleye bite is turning on using bottom bouncers with shiners with a nightcrawlers off the points in 30-35 feet of water from Georges Cove to the dam.”

(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 7-17-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 15.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 8.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation and no wadable water during the 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 now having heavy generation and expect it to continue for the foreseeable 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 in the past two years. 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 can be crowded. There is some work being done at the hatchery that has affected access to the upper areas on the creek and some of the hatchery discharge pipes are not running resulting in lower flows 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 7-17-2019) 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.