Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 20, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 20, 2020.

White River

(updated 5-20-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the river level has been way up and way down this week. “Despite the river changes, the trout are loving it. The high water is great for growing the trout and low water finds them pooled up and perfect for catching.
“The browns have been taking sculpins and minnows, as well as any lure that looks like a rainbow. You can hook your share of rainbows with a pink worm, sometimes tipped with white PowerBait. Live worms have been working well too, the water level changes washing more worms into the river so your bait looks more natural. Tie on something with lots of gold flash if using stick baits, and spoons and spinners with red and
gold blades have also proven successful.
“The low water times have also been great for fly fishing with many wading opportunities opening up. The river has been changing fast so keep an eye on the water level if wade fishing. Enjoy the Memorial Day weekend and stay safe, keep your
life jackets on or near at all times.”

(updated 5-20-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reports that the generators at Bull Shoals Lake dam are turned off, and river flow is one-half a generator at minimum flow. With reduced flow in the river by about 90 percent, are stuck in a much smaller area, they say. “A couple of guys caught 102 fish in a day using lures and jigs. A 25-inch, 10-pound brown trout was caught off the bank. Fishing is really good right now until they have to turn the generators back up.”

(updated 5-20-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that last week, before the weekend’s rain front, they had several rain events (combined for a bit over 2 inches), cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.6 feet to rest at 24.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 8.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1.9 feet to rest at 2.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 12.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 8.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.3 foot below the top of flood pool. The White saw heavy or moderate generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.2 feet to rest at 15 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 8.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater also saw heavy flows but some wadable water. The Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Beaver Dam in an effort to lower the water level on this lake quicker.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The water below Crooked Creek and the Buffalo is high and off-color. 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 with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it).

Julie Jones (in photo left) and Wendy Rickman went fishing on the White River in and around Cotter last Friday, then made their way down to Buffalo City where Julie caught this major brown trout (a 10-minute fight, they report) on a nightcrawler right off the bank, then taking a photo before releasing it.


Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 691.55 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 5-20-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said fishing has been about the same for the past two weeks. The lake is “pretty clear,” he says, but the upper lake is really dirty. Bull Shoals is 31 feet high as of midafternoon Tuesday. Bream are fair; fish around the bluffs for the best activity with worms or crickets. A random crappie or two can be caught, Del says; minnows or jigs will work. Black bass are good on topwater baits such as Zara Spooks, as well as poppers. No reports on catfish, white bass or walleye. Visit Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for video with more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 578.82 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 5-20-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Hoo-ray the Norfork Lake threadfin shad have finally started their spawn and the stripers and hybrids are feeding heavy. The bass are also feeding and with this week's upcoming weather pattern we should see an explosion of fish activity. Get your swimbaits and Zara Spooks ready for a workout.
“We have been fishing from Crystal Cove to Big Creek and finding and catching limits. The fish are relating to bluffs and points near the bluffs and also big flats that drop off into the channel. If the south wind has been pounding a north point for a day or so, make sure you fish it. The fish are chasing the shad that has been blown into the point. With the high water the bait is now in the brush covered by water, the shad must spawn on objects. The fish will be feeding on the shad, so make sure you work the shoreline with your baits. Good places to look are Cranfield Island and points heading north, Crystal Cove, Diamond Bay, and the points heading south like Thumb Point. The walleye are biting on bottom bouncers with nightcrawlers. They are relating to the old shoreline in 18-24 feet off the points. The crappie are still deep and they are being caught trolling flicker shad over deep brushpiles.

(updated 5-13-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort Norfork Lake fishing has been good over the last several weeks and should remain the same if not better for the foreseeable future. “It is really hard to say what the best bite is at this time because all species seem to be biting very good most days,” he said. “As is normal for this time of year the best bite is typically at sunrise and then again at sunset. This is not to say there will not be a good bite during the middle part of the day. I guess you just need to spend the whole day on the lake fishing.”
The crappie bite continues to be good and there are still several different fishing methods to catch them, he said. “I have been trolling the Berkley Flicker Minnow, size 7 and 9. Colors vary by day, but I have had success with the following; slick pearl silver, racy shad, slick Firetiger and slick alewife. The crappie that I have been finding are back in coves and the fish are on brush or near the brush suspended 15-25 feet down. The brush can be in 20-40 feet of water, as long as the top of the brush comes up to 15-20 feet of water. I troll at about 1.2 mph. You can also vertical-jig for them with a small 1/8- to ¼-ounce spoon or a small curly or twister tail grub. Also try tipping the grub with a small minnow to get more bites, most times. The third method is to cast out the grub past the brush, let it sink, then retrieve it slowly over the brush. The hardest part about casting is getting the bait at the right depth and keeping it there.”
The bite for largemouth bass has also been very good. A 5- to 6-inch swimbait with a ½-ounce jighead has been working well for Lou when the fish are out a little deeper chasing shad. If you find them close to shore, downsize the swimbait to a 3.5-inch and use only a 1/8- to ¼-ounce jighead. Flukes and suspending jerkbaits are also working well for the shallow fish. At sunrise and sunset, keep your eyes open and look for topwater action. They can be close to shore or out in deeper water, but typically close to a point with sunken brush. Spinnerbaits are also working, especially if there is some wind. Fish the point that the wind is blowing into.
Striped and hybrid bass fishing has also been good, but has been inconsistent – no different than our ever-changing weather. The weather really makes fishing for striped bass interesting. You first need to find the bait and the stripers will typically be nearby. There has been some good topwater action for striped/hybrid bass early in the morning that has lasted until the sun rises above the tree line. If it is cloudy the action can last longer. You can also find topwater action at sunset, but this bite typically does not last long, as they go down as it gets darker out. “I have been finding fish out in 90 feet of water on a main lake bluff. There are good points at each end of each of the bluffs, which have lots of sunken brush. The fish seem to move back and forth along the bluff feeding on shad. Zara Spooks and my larger swimbait has been working great. You will also find striped bass in shallow water next to sunken brush, as long as the brush is holding bait. Striped bass seem to be all over the lake. They have been caught back in the major creeks, as well as on main lake points at both ends of the lake.”
The surface water temperature is falling slightly and is in the low to mid-60s. The lake is fairly stable, but is rising slightly with the rain they have been having over the last couple of days. The current lake level is 570.20 feet msl. The lake is clear with some slight stained water in different areas. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 5-20-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1.2 feet to rest at 15 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 8.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater also saw heavy flows but some wadable water. The Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Beaver Dam further up the White River system in an effort to lower the water level on this lake quicker. The Norfork is fishing better. 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. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing very well. With the coronavirus there is little pressure. 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 5-20-2020) 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. John’s favorite fly on these waters 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.