Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 28, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter ?rel=0 Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report August 28, 2019.

White River

(updated 8-28-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Trout fishing in the Arkansas Ozarks is always exciting and never stops – even during the annual August doldrums. The last two weeks of August always bring a slowdown of traffic on the river and a chance to catch our breath before the busy Labor Day weekend. After a few weeks of steady released from Bull Shoals Dam, which caused a drop of nearly 10 feet in lake elevation (and a big sigh of relief from all of us downriver), we are being treated to some lower flows for a few days and an opportunity to lay an anchor on the river bed over a deep fishing hole and lower a hook baited with a minnow. Keep your eye on the tip of your rod for a little tremor and watch that big brown start tugging. Turn to some quicker action fishing for rainbows with a little bit of lemon-lime PowerBait and a pinch of shrimp. Word is that upriver we've got a lot of brook trout trying to make their way to maturity; they might make it since we're still working on the perfect bait to lure them in. School is back in session most everywhere, so watch out for the kids on your way to the river and be patient with the bus drivers – they're carrying the real treasures.”

(updated 8-28-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water has been up and down the past week. The Army Corps of Engineers has turned the water off after flooding downstream at Newport, they say. The river level at the resort was low as of Tuesday morning. Trout are favoring Power Eggs and PowerBait along with marshmallows. Anglers are not catching any browns as of the past few days. Rainbow fishing, though, is “really good,” they report. Golden rainbow trout are being caught now, they say, adding that it’s pretty rare that anglers are catching those usually.

(updated 8-28-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Monday that they had several rain events (combined for over 4 inches of rain), warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 1.7 feet to rest at 16.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 17.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 foot to rest at seasonal power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 4.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 4.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 10.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 15.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation in the afternoon and wadable water in the early morning. Most of the lakes in the White River System are at or 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.”
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).
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, “Last week my wife, Lori, and I had a guide trip with Warren and Karen, a nice couple from Houston. The goal of the trip was to introduce Karen to the quiet sport and they thought that Lori would be the perfect person to do it. As everyone around here knows, the Corps of Engineers has been running heavy water around the clock on the White and Norfork. Lori is a wade guide and took me along to run the boat. This also gave her time to concentrate on teaching Karen to fish high water.
“Conditions were tough. They were running about 12,500 cfs. This required us to use long leaders, two heavily weighted, a heavy split shot and a big strike indicator. It was all new to Karen. Warren had a lot of experience fishing salt water but not much trout fishing. I worked with him. It was brutally hot. The high was to be 96 degrees with severe heat advisories. It that were not enough, there was a dense fog on the river that made navigation difficult.​
“The first day went well. Karen caught a limit of trout and had a great time. Warren was a natural and was soon casting the heavy rig easily. They both enjoyed it so much they booked a trip later in the week. The conditions were virtually the same except that the generation was about 20 percent heavier, making the casting even more difficult.
“The second day went well. Karen caught several nice trout, including a fat, colorful, 15-inch rainbow. Warren did well catching more trout than on the previous day. He had tied some flies when preparing for the trip and was intrigued with the idea of catching one on the grasshopper that he had tied. He had heard a lot about our brown trout and was interested in catching one. The idea of catching one on a hopper that he had tied was too much to hope for.​
“After lunch break in the shade, we returned to the river. Karen had caught enough and was taking a break. Warren had also caught several. I suggested trying his hopper. We had rigged a separate rod with a hopper on the previous day. I moved the boat over near the bank and we began fishing the bank.​
“He missed the first hit. I do the same thing time after time. The adrenaline is pumping and then you see a take on the top. I invariably strike too soon and pull the fly out of the trout’s mouth. Lori does the same. The next strike was a small trout that slipped the hook before it got to the boat.
“It was about quitting time. We decided to do two more drifts. The first was a bust. When we were about finished with the second and final drift, things took a turn for the better. Warren made the perfect cast to a spot 3 inches from the bank. His fly drifted a few inches when there was a violent strike. He deftly set the hook and a big trout was on.​
“It was a stout, 20-inch brown and Warren was stoked. The brown swam around the boat and fought like a demon. It took several deep runs before it surrendered to the net.​ It was the perfect ending to the trip, a big brown on a fly that he tied.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 677.30 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-21-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake clarity is stained with a visibility of 5-10 feet. The water level as of Tuesday early afternoon was still 19 feet over normal pool level. Bream reports are good, with redworms or crickets working well. Crappie are good; they are biting spoons and are mostly on the creeks now. Black bass reports are fair. Del is finding them in about 20-30 feet of water. In the morning there is a topwater bite. Nothing to report on catfish or white bass. 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 565.04 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 8-28-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the August full moon has helped the striper bite this year on Norfork Lake. “I had five guided trips this past week and all but the last one caught their limits. (Sunday) we boated eight and missed or broke off 10 more. The bite has been awesome for us. I'm fishing at the dam and caught limits of stripers that must be kept because of the depth of the water column the fish are in. My son is fishing north on the Missouri side of Norfork Lake and catching big stripers that can be released.
“I went with him on Tuesday and boated seven that were between 12 and 20 pounds. The last two days he has boated a 22-pound and 26-pound striper, again all of them have been released. They are also catching stripers above the state line before Udall but those must be kept since the water is warmer. The fish are in 30 feet of water on the bottom.”
Tom said he planned on going up Monday to find the fish and also fish for the bigger stripers. “We are using small baits south and big 8-10 inches baits up north. Again all the fish begin caught is within 500 yards of the dam, Quarry swim beach, the buoys and Dam Cove, and Long Point are holding most of the fish. A trick that has been effective is a short 10-pound leader with very small hooks. Almost all the fish being caught is on live bait. This pattern will continue until the oxygen bubble burst and the stripers can start moving from the deep water. This will only happen when the lake cools down so expect this pattern to continue until mid to late September. The water above Calamity Beach is starting to cool so it will not be long before I begin to fish north.”

(updated 8-21-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideway Resort said fishing on Norfork Lake continues the summertime pattern with no dramatic change over the last week. The water temperature is on the rise with the unseasonably warm air temperatures. The thermocline may have dropped a foot or two, bur is still in the 25-foot range, plus or minus a foot or two. Striped bass fishing is still the best at the dam area. You can find many of the stripers 70-90 feet deep on the bottom or very close to it. “I have noticed that they seem to have moved a little deeper since last week. I fished for striped bass last Sunday and Monday and caught a few and missed a few, but most were 80-90 feet down on the bottom. Live bait is working, but you will need to change out your baits often as they are not surviving long in this deep and cold water. Vertical-jigging with a spoon is picking up a few fish and trolling with downriggers or a lot of inline weight is also picking up some fish. I am hearing that the fishermen trolling swimbaits or umbrella rigs are catching a few stripers suspended 40 feet down, but the fish I am finding are mainly very deep.
“Today (Tuesday) I headed toward the Cranfield area and upriver a short way and fished in 20-35 feet of water. I was vertical-jigging a spoon, casting deeper-diving crankbaits and slow trolling deep-diving crankbaits. I caught crappie, bluegill and bass. Crappie have moved into brush that is in 25-30 feet of water. I started out vertical jigging a quarter-ounce spoon with lightweight line. I was marking fish at the tops of the brush, about 15 feet down. I received no bites. I switch to my 1-ounce spoon and on my first drop it was hammered by a 10.5-inch crappie. I fished this brush with the 1-ounce spoon for about 30 minutes and landed five more in the 10-inch range. Why they liked the bigger bait over my normal go-to size, I have no idea, but they were aggressive. I switched methods of fishing and started casting a deep-diving crankbait over the tops of some brush where I was marking fish and landed a nice 12 crappie and a few bass. You can also troll with deep-diving crankbaits in 18-30 feet of water and catch many different species of fish. You will need to have your bait reach around 15-20 feet deep. I have in the past added some big split shots about 6 feet or so from the bait to help it get deeper.”
Norfork Lake surface water temperature is on the rise and was 87 degrees Tuesady morning. The lake is somewhat stained, but clearer in the main lake. The water depth continues to drop 2-3 inches per day due to the Army Corps of Engineers keeping the power generators on for part of the day. The current depth of Norfork Lake is 565.5 feet msl. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 8-28-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the previous week Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 10.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 15.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation in the afternoon and wadable water in the early morning. Most of the lakes in the White River System are at or 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.”
The Norfork has been fishing slow. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole from past 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 also is fishing slow. With school back in session it will be less crowded during the week. 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 8-28-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. The smallmouths are more active with the warm conditions. John's favorite fly is the 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.