Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 14, 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 14, 2019.

White River

(updated 8-14-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The White River below Bull Shoals Dam in the northernmost area of central Arkansas is Trout Fishing Heaven. The pattern we have seen developing for water releases from the dam, if there is such a thing as a pattern, is a full three units (12,000-plus cfs) during the early morning hours. The water level remains fairly steady throughout the morning, then after the noon hour the water begins a gradual rise as an additional three generators are released, usually stepped up slowly.
“Big water means big trout. Have you seen the rainbows that are being caught?! This past week we've awarded six catch-and-release pins for rainbows over 19 inches. There are more in the 17- to 19-inch range. Sometimes they demand a minnow before they'll let you catch sight of them, but more often than not, they take a bite of a bubblegum pink worm with a little shrimp added to the end of the hook. Throw out a Blue Fox spinner (grab a quarter-ounce or better) and the odds are good you'll get to work that reel.
“We're still getting glimpses of the golden rainbow trout that were stocked a few weeks back. The ones that we're seeing have obviously developed some survival skills, so you'll have to try a few tricks to bring them in. If purple doesn't work (as was suggested last week) give them a chance at a bronze Colorado spoon, one-sixth ounce; their curiosity may be your good fortune.
“If you are new to fly-fishing, we've found the San Juan worm is a good way to catch your first trout on a fly given the high water we’re experiencing. Wading may be out for now, but fishing never is, so join us on the river and catch the fun.”

(updated 8-14-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river is high, and the Army Corps of Engineers is running water with six or seven generators running round-the-clock. The fish like it, though. Fishing “was great” over the weekend, they report. Lots of rainbows were caught on river rigs with pink Power Worms. Also, lots of nice browns were brought in on stick bait – bigger browns than ever before, they say. “People fishing with guides are doing a lot better than those without,” is the report. The trout bite rates excellent.

(updated 8-14-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Sunday that during the previous week they had about an inch and a half or rain, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 2 feet to rest at 20.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 13.4 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 fell 0.2 foot to rest at 5.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 11.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 12.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation in the afternoon and very 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. John says he prefers large western foam hoppers so that he does not need to dress them. Add a dropper nymph to increase your catch.
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 cerise San Juan worm with an egg pattern 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 680.83 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-14-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake has 10 percent visibility. The surface temperature feels hot and reads out at 87 degrees. Water level is high. The Corps of Engineers is “running a lot of water,” he said. Black bass are fair. Anglers will have to work for them, but you can catch them, Del says. He says it’s junk fishing but mostly a topwater bite. Anglers will have to get out early to have success. He hears that catfishing is good on limblines in the creeks. He rates the bream and crappie bites as poor. Del updates his YouTube Channel, Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock, regularly with reports and tips on fishing the lake.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 566.93 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 8-14-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has not really changed much over the last couple of weeks. The fish are still in the summertime pattern and should remain in this pattern for the next four weeks. The only thing that might change is that the thermocline should start to drop from its current level of 20-25 feet down to 30-plus feet. The best bite for striped bass is within a mile or so of the dam. Stripers are hanging around in 60-90 feet water depth and are typically very close to the bottom. Hybrids will be with the stripers, but will also be up toward the thermocline as they handle the warmer water much better than striped bass do. You will be able to find stripers on points near the dam including Thumb, Koso, Long Point and Point 1. At times you may find them roaming out on the deeper flats in the same area.
“I fished for striped bass on Sunday and Monday of this week. On Sunday I found a lot of fish, but they were not very energetic. I got bites, but very light, and they let go of the bait quickly. Monday was a different story. I fished the same area and again lots of fish, but this time they were hungry. When they hit the bait, they took off running. It was a lot of fun. Live shad or shiners are the best baits to use at this time, but vertical-jigging a spoon or trolling may pick up some nice fish.”
Most other species of fish are hanging around the thermocline. The thermocline is at about 25 feet. “The last couple of days I fished for shallower fish and caught almost every species in the lake. This morning (Aug. 13) I spent my time looking at different types of areas within several miles of our resort. (Hummingbird Hideaway Resort) This morning I only used one bait, which was a Bink’s Many Shad, 1-ounce spoon. I was vertical-jigging in 20-30 feet of water. The best depth this morning seemed to be around 25 feet. I caught and released walleye, bass, bluegills, crappie and catfish. I believe I boated over 20 fish, but only the spotted bass and a few crappie were keeper size. The best areas seemed to be on main lake points. I marked some nice-size bass suspended 10-15 feet down near bluff line points. I checked out the back of one cove where I knew there were some shallow brush piles. The brush was in 24-27 feet of water and came up to about 15 feet. I found crappie just stacked at the top of the brush. I still only had the 1-ounce spoon tied on, but the crappie were aggressive. Several of the crappie were 10-11 inches, but most were on the short side.”
Norfork Lake continues to drop about 2 inches per day with about a half-day of full power generation. The current level is at 567.01 feet msl. The coves are slightly stained with the main lake clear. The surface water temperature this morning was 85-87 degrees. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake,” Lou said.

(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 a.m. and really get no bites until after 6:30 a.m., so this week we are leaving at 6:30 a.m. 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 three more bites by 10 a.m. We caught two 16- and 18-pounders and lost two in that size range. I feel that the real bite is somewhere between 8 and 10 a.m.
“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-feet range. Most of the stripers I have catching are at 80 feet right off the bottom. Inline spinners, spoons, trolling and live bait all are producing catches.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 8-14-2019) 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 11.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 12.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation in the afternoon and very 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 things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. 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 slow. With school starting back, it will be less 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, “Yesterday I was cutting my grass (yes it was hot) and I noticed a big tan grass hopper and I immediately began thinking about fishing hoppers. The hopper bite has been pretty good this year. I have thought that it was a bit better on the lower water that we had a few weeks ago. I have even had clients catch fish on hoppers on Dry Run Creek.
“One of my most memorable days catching fish with hoppers with clients was when I took Paul Little on the White. He is a fly fishing guide from Manchester, England, and is recognized internationally for his salmon flies. He came to Mountain Home to tie flies at the Federation of Fly Fishers Southern Council Conclave. One of my regular customers had fished with him in England and wanted to introduce him to fishing here. He hired me to take them out.
“We went to Rim Shoals, a favorite spot of mine. I had them fishing nymphs with strike indicators and we were doing well catching some nice trout. About that time a good trout came up to the top of the water to hit the indicator. It surprised Paul and he was amazed by the ferocity of the hit. Then it happened again and then again.
“I decided to try a grasshopper. Paul had never fished one. He is from an area where they fish dries and wet flies for trout and classic salmon irons for salmon. The idea of fishing a large terrestrial appealed to him. I stripped the nymphs, lead and strike indicator from his line and cut the leader back to seven feet. I then tied on a tan foam western pink lady grass hopper. This is my current favorite hopper pattern. It floats like a cork, is easy to see and does not have to be dressed. It is also deadly.
“On his first cast, he had an 18-inch rainbow hit the hopper like a ton of bricks. He deftly set the hook and had a great time landing the trout. Over the rest of the day, he landed a total of 17 trout on the hopper. He was stoked. He said that he had never fished hoppers in England but would give them a try when he got back home.
“The next day we waded the Norfork and he was much more in his element. We were catching trout on soft hackles similar to the flies he used in England. He switched over to his own wet flies to see if they would work here. They did!
“While we were fishing, he admired my prismatic forceps. We made a trade. I gave him my forceps and he gave me one of his incredible salmon flies. I had it framed and it is now proudly displayed over my desk.
“Paul got to try our great hopper fishing and was duly impressed.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 8-14-2019) 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.