Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 7, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report August 7, 2019.

White River

(updated 8-7-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The water has arrived, and the guides are excited. Bull Shoals Lake is the repository for overflow from Beaver and Table Rock lakes, plus a lot of tributary runoff, and for several months has been releasing very little of the pent-up water via the dam so as not to cause additional flooding downstream. Now we're seeing some of that water being released and, in my opinion, in a very prudent manner; smaller releases early in the day, increasing amounts late in the afternoon. It's true that wading opportunities are scarce for now, but releases are much less swift and damaging than in previous years.
“The catch here in Cotter has been a higher quality, 17- to 21-inch rainbows are almost common, and the ones that are taken home (under 14 inches) are healthy and fat. To fill your creel, downsize your hooks (size 8 or 10) and try a tiny piece of shrimp with a bubblegum pink worm. Make it a mousetail – white egg pattern on the pink worm – for a more sure catch. Smithwick stickbaits are in order: silver or orange bellies, swimming depth of 4-6 feet. Fly-fishers, use weighted line if you're casting a streamer – and now is a great time for those using the tried and true olive or brown and orange with beadheads. Drift-fishing will be the norm for the next couple of months, but your guides have a few favorite anchoring sites they save for times when children are on board and a simpler casting/retrieving method is desired. Bank fishing is not out of the question, just bring along some extra patience and be ready to cast more frequently than when the river level is low. High water should not keep you from the river, it just provides more opportunity for learning new techniques. Come visit and catch!”

(updated 8-7-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river was up, and high, Tuesday morning. The trout bite has been good. Anglers caught some nice rainbows and a couple of brown trout over the weekend. The larger rainbows were going for spinnerbaits. Browns will bite white jigs or stick baits.

(updated 8-7-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that that last week they had no rain, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level as of Sunday at Bull Shoals dropped 1.9 feet to rest at 22.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 11.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.9 foot to rest at seasonal power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 5.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White saw heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 12.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 11.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation in the afternoon and limited wadable water in the morning. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River System are well over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the foreseeable future.
Hopper season is in full swing. Use a short, 7½-foot leader to turn over the big fly. Cast near the bank and hang on. The takes can be vicious. “I prefer large western foam hoppers so that I do not need to dress them. Add a dropper nymph to increase your catch,” John said.
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 long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 682.93 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-7-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake clarity is mostly cloudy, and the Bull Shoals remains high at about 25 feet over normal pool. Black bass are picking up, he said. The fish are 20-30 feet depth of water and the bite has been good. Use a topwater in the early morning. Fish the rocky points. Use jigs or drop-shots on the secondary points. Catfishing has been good for the jugs and limblines at night. Redear sunfish are biting on a red crawler bait in 15-20 feet of water. Check out Del’s YouTube channel (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for his regularly updated video fishing report with various baits and patterns he’s using for the bass.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 568.11 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 8-7-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake stripers bite was better this past week I limited out one day and had several days that if we hooked all of the bites, we would have our limit. What we are finding is there is no early bite. We have been leaving the dock at 5:30 AM and really get no bites until after 6:30 AM so this week we are leaving at 6:30 AM. Some days the bite starts around 6:30 and ends by 7:30. What I found was the active fish move out and if you wait and keep changing your bait you will get bit later in the morning. For example I have fishing one location and catch a couple of fish by 7:30, then I move to a place by the dam and try for another striper. I then move back to the original location and catch some later fish. Saturday I moved around everywhere and could not get a bit so I went back to my original spot and found some fish but they did not bite until 8:50 and then we had 3 move bites by 10 AM. We caught 2 16 & 18 lbs and lost 2 in that size range. I feel that the real bite is somewhere between 8 and 10 AM. I also feel there is an afternoon bite which I plan on trying on my next off day. I continue to fish from Koso Point to the Dam. Dam Cove and along the buoys the guides have been catching fish in the 80’ range. Most of the stripers I have catching are at 80’ right off the bottom. In-line spinners, spoons, trolling and live bait all are producing catches.

(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.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 8-7-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the previous week Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 12.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 11.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation in the afternoon and limited wadable water in the morning. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Most 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 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 over the past couple of 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 4). 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.
About Dry Run Creek, John also says, “I spent quite a bit of time guiding on Dry Run Creek during July. The most memorable client was Fulton. I guided him, his parents (Steve and Binky) and his sisters (Lily and Eva). He was quite a fisherman. The family had attended a fly-fishing class together and Fulton had started tying his own flies. He is also an avid hunter.
“On the first day we fished together, he caught several large rainbows. The largest was a stout 25-inch, brightly colored male with a huge girth. On the second day, he caught several good rainbows and a spectacular cutthroat.
“He had done well fishing nymphs and was looking for a new challenge. He asked if he could fish a grasshopper. I said sure. He pulled out his fly box and we studied it carefully. We selected a green foam hopper that he had tied. I rigged the fly on his rod and gave him a quick lesson on fishing hoppers.
“He was a natural and cast the hopper with ease. His drifts over large fish produced a few refusals but no takes. I suggested a change to a similar fly that was tan hopper that he had tied. We quickly tied it on and cast it over the trout. A big rainbow was interested and rose to take it. Fulton deftly set the hook and the fight was on. He landed the big trout. It was a stout 24-inch rainbow.
“This was only the second trout that I have seen landed on a grasshopper on Dry Run Creek in my 30 years of guiding there. The fact that it was landed on a fly tied by Fulton made the event that much more memorable. The previous trout that I had seen caught on a grasshopper was about 12 years ago. It was a similar rainbow that was feeding on the surface. We floated a tan foam hopper over it and got several refusals. We switched to a Dave’s Hopper and achieved success. A Dave’s Hopper is a dead-on imitation of the actual insect.
“The next day he and his sister were guided by my wife, Lori, while I was guiding his parents in my river boat on the White River. Fulton caught a huge brown that was about 27 inches long. It was his biggest fish of the trip. He had now caught a trophy rainbow, brown and cutthroat. He needed a brook in order to catch all the species available on Dry Run Creek. He caught it on his next trip a few weeks later.
“I paused a minute to determine how he had done so well. He cast well and he set the hook quickly. More than anything, he wanted it! He was totally absorbed by the process and he will continue to become an even better angler.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 8-7-2019) 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 the Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water levels before entering these fisheries  as there are no dams on either stream. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event, and the water can rise very quickly.