Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 31, 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 31, 2019.

White River

(updated 7-31-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “We're excited: The water releases have finally begun (and in such a reasonable format!) and the fishing gets better every day. Mornings start out with about one and a half generators operating (between 4,000 and 6,000 cfs), a near-perfect floating level. An angler can anchor in his favorite places or can drift without hanging up too often. There are fewer places to safely wade fish but bank fishing is not out of the question. Both boaters and shore anglers can catch a creel full of rainbows with red wigglers or nightcrawlers. Higher releases are planned for the afternoons with up to six units (18,000 cfs) or more being issued through Bull Shoals Dam.
They say the best bait is the Berkley pink worm, better when drift fishing from a boat. You might try the orange Power Worm, too, to lure the more curious ones. “We're still having success with the scented egg pattern and shrimp, but the faster water takes the bait before the trout can get to you. Spinnerbaits are a good option in the morning before the higher releases. You may have heard that Arkansas Game and Fish stocked some golden rainbow trout; they're hanging around Cotter and seem to be partial to purple baits. I'd try the Trout Magnet purple grub small jig (add some weight for the high water). Keep anglin' and stay aware of surroundings with the higher water.”

(updated 7-31-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river is clear. There hasn’t been a lot of fishing, but what fishing there is has been great, they say. The water level is normal – up during the day and down again at night. Trout are good on PowerBait. Small lures and small stick baits will catch the larger rainbows, while the PowerBait is bringing in smaller rainbows. Overall, rainbow fishing is excellent and very good size, though. The brown trout have slowed down a little, but the fishing is still fair. Some moss remains, but overall clarity is good. “This is the best fishing in the 15 years I’ve been here,” they report.

(updated 7-31-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the previous week they had a minor rain event (just a trace in Cotter), hot temperatures (to include heat index warnings) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 1.2 feet to rest at 24.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 9.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 2.1 feet to rest at 0.9 foot above seasonal power pool and 13.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 6.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation early in the week with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 14 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 10.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw heavy generation in the afternoon and wadable water in the morning. 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. Expect heavy generation for the foreseeable future.
The White has fished very well. The hot spot has been the Narrows. 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 cerise San Juan worm with a size 14 pheasant tail nymph suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down).

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 685.12 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-24-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level is 27 feet above normal, while the clarity is cloudy. Surface temperature Tuesday midafternoon was 86 degrees. Black bass are fair on topwater baits. Catfishing is fair using trotlines or limblines. Some walleye are being caught, he says. 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 569.48 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 7-31-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing is in its summertime fishing pattern. “This means that the fish have gone deep and will stay deep until the lake starts to cool. My fishing time has greatly been reduced this summer.  I have only been able to get out once or twice a week. I will get back to my every day fishing habit shortly. I will try my best to start doing more frequent fishing reports, as well.”
Lou says most species of fish are at or around the thermocline, 25-35 feet deep. “I spent (Tuesday) morning fishing at this water depth. I was casting swimbaits, letting them sink to the bottom, jigging spoons off the bottom and at the same time dragging several live shad on the bottom. I moved around slowly in 25-35 feet of water and caught many different species of fish. I was mainly fishing the shallow sloping banks. I was looking for walleye, but catfish and bass were hanging around and liking the live shad. I did land many walleye, but I could only find the nursery fish. The walleye that I caught were only 12-15 inches long. The catfish were nice-size and really fought hard. I actually broke off two, but not before seeing them several times before they dove for the bottom again. All the cats that I have caught have been well over 8 pounds. My live bait caught the most fish, but jigging the spoon caught all the walleye.”
Striped bass fishing has been a little difficult, Lou says. This time of year, once the water temperature gets into the upper 80s, many of the striped bass head toward the dam area. Lou says he fished for striped bass on Monday. “I headed out before light to search. I looked at several typical areas but found very few fish. In the fourth area, I started to mark fish 60 feet down and deeper. It was about 6 a.m. and was getting light. I set our four live shad rods, two at 60 feet and the other two at 70 feet, and was moving around in 60-90 feet of water. It was not long until a fish hammered one of the baits, and then once I landed this fish a second rod took off. I thought that the bite was on! I continued to mark lots of scattered fish, but it took another hour before I caught my limit. The stripers that I have caught over the last couple of weeks have mainly been feeding on crawdads. Stripers need to go deep to get to the cooler water, which takes them away from the shad, as most of the shad are staying around the thermocline.”
Norfork Lake surface water temperature has been in the mid 80s in the mornings and rising slightly in the heat of the day. The water level is dropping about 2 inches per day with both generators being run 50% of the time. The current lake depth is at 569.48 feet msl. The main lake is clear and some the creeks and coves are slight stained. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake,” Lou says.

(updated 7-31-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “The Norfork Lake stripers are not acting normal this year. From July 4 they have gone deep and we are catching them from 60-80 feet using both threadfin and gizzard shad. In years past during the month of July we would be fishing the flats in 50-60 feet of water and the stripers would be schooling and feeding on crawdads. Usually the stripers go deep in the middle of August and quit biting after Labor Day on the lower end of the lake until the water cools. This year they are feeding on craws, but we cannot find any schools and they are holding in deep water along the bluffs in the channel and open water off the channels.
“This has been the most frustrating year of fishing I can recall. No matter how good of bait we have, it's a struggle to put together a quality limit of stripers on a regular basis.
“Every method is being used on the lake and each method is producing fish but not every day. Inline spinners, spoons, trolling and live bait all are producing catches. Each day you can find stripers, but getting them to hit is another story. We continue to search for new places to catch active fish on our off days to make sure our clients have the best opportunities to catch a striper. The best places to look is the main channel to the dam, the area around the cell tower, Koso front and back, the channel from Hand Cove to the Dam, Shoal Creek and Dam Cove.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-31-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 14 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 10.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw heavy generation in the afternoon and wadable water in the morning. 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. Expect heavy generation for the foreseeable future.
The Norfork fishing 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 due to flooding. 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 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, “Over the Fourth of July weekend my wife, Lori, and I guided Steve and Binky and their kids, Fulton and Eva, on the White River and Dry Run Creek. The kids caught trophy trout on Dry Run Creek and the parents had a spectacular morning at Rim Shoals. The only problem was that their oldest daughter, Lily, had missed the trip due to a road trip with her lacrosse team. Once she heard about how good the fishing was, she wanted to get involved. The problem was that she will turn 16 next month, when she would be too old to fish Dry Run Creek, and the clock was ticking.
“Steve asked me to call him the next time we get some good wadable water. He wanted to get Lily on Dry Run Creek before her birthday and wanted to get in some fishing himself. I saw a window of opportunity, due to Hurricane Barry. Because of downstream flooding, the Army Corps of Engineers had cut back on the generation. I gave Steve a call and asked if he was interested. He was enthusiastic. Eva and Binky would not be able to make the trip because Eva was having some serious dental work done. Fulton and Lily were ready to fish. The goal of the trip was to get Lily on a trophy trout.
“They arrived on Friday afternoon and I met them at Dry Run Creek. The going was a little slow, but Lily caught a few trout, including a brook, to Fulton’s chagrin. He had been trying to catch one. He had landed rainbow, cutthroat and brown trout toward achieving his grand slam, but the brook had eluded him. He set his goal to land a brook trout.
“The next day, in the cool of the morning, we fished the White and did well. There was a heat advisory that day and we drove over to Dry Run Creek to get Lily’s trophy and to escape the heat. I fished with Lily, while Steve and Fulton visited a local fly shop to pick up a few souvenirs of the trip. There were few anglers there and we had plenty of places to fish.
“We went to a likely spot and began fishing. We caught a couple of small trout but nothing big. We began working our way upstream. We continued catching fish, but no trophies. We ended up at a favorite spot. On the first cast, Lily hooked a huge rainbow. I slipped into the creek to get ready to net it. It came close and I pushed the net under it. It managed to slip out. I made myself relax and calmly coached Lily to bring it closer. I once again tried to net it and this time succeeded. We had accomplished our goal: Lily had landed a trophy trout. It was a 24-inch rainbow with a huge girth. We posed for some photos and regretted that her dad and brother missed seeing it. We had released the trout but it stayed nearby. About that time, they walked up and were able to get a good look at the fish.
“The view of the trophy served to enthuse Fulton and he began fishing in earnest. He saw a brook trout and began casting to it. He was excited when he got a take. It was special to him as it was his first brook. It was a great way to end the day. Lily and Fulton had accomplished their goal. Life is good!”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 7-31-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. 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.