Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 27, 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 27, 2020.

White River

(updated 5-27-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Memorial Day weekend ushers in summer and it appears we're going to have some sustained sunshine and warmer weather beginning Friday. “The weekend was blissfully normal following the COVID-19 confinement; lots of families enjoying the river, fresh air and sun, and folks working hard to maintain social distancing suggestions.
“The first thing the seasoned angler works on, after ensuring rods and reels are up to snuff, is determining what baits should work best for the day based on weather and water conditions. If you're fishing for browns on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam, you'll make sure you have a few sculpins and river minnows with you. Drift that bait between the railroad bridge and the Rainbow Bridge for the best shot at a good, strong bite and maybe enough pizzazz to bring a healthy, fighting brown to the boat. We've had a lot of success with various spoons this past week, especially the bronze Colorado ¼-ounce spoon. A steady catch of rainbows follows an orange/yellow/pink egg pattern (i.e. Sunrise PowerBait) and shrimp.
In the coming weeks, stay informed about water releases from Bull Shoals Dam since the lakes in our water shed have all reached maximum capacity. The Corps of Engineers is working hard at lowering the lake levels in an expedient and safe manner; there may be some warmer water released over the top of the dam, so stay where the water is coldest and fish right down the middle of the channel. But when you see the river high enough to cover grassy areas, drop a line close to the water's edge – the trout will be munching there on the fresh food source. Best advice for boaters in the next few weeks: Wear your life jackets.

(updated 5-27-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reports that the water is down. They say anglers did not get a lot of browns the past week, but rainbows have been “really good.” A lot of people were on the river this past weekend for the first time in a while, they report. The Corps of Engineers plans to open the spillway Wednesday, they have been told. Trout (rainbows mostly) are good on PowerBait and corn.

(updated 5-27-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that last week they had several rain events (combined for a bit over 2 inches), cooler temperatures and moderate winds. “This is the same thing that I wrote last week,” he noted as it was still raining. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.1 feet to rest at 30.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 5.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 7.1 feet to rest at 9.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 5.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 7.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White saw moderate generation and significant wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 7.6 feet to rest at 25.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 1 foot below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and reliable wadable water.
The White River system lakes are very near the top of flood pool. As soon as the flooding clears downstream, expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come.
The White has fished 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 size 14 pheasant tail with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it).

John also said, “During the last few months of being hunkered down because of the coronavirus pandemic, my wife, Lori, and I have escaped the tedium of the lockdown by going fishing as often as we can. Fresh air, sunshine and the excitement of fighting trout has been just what the doctor ordered.
“Last Saturday was another chance to get out of the house. It had been raining for a few days and we worried that the water could be off-color. However the predicted flows for low wadable water drew us to try. When we arrived at the access, we were pleasantly surprised to see that the water was fairly clear.
“I launched the boat and checked our fly rods. We stayed with the same flies (size 14 pheasant tails with a size 18 ruby midge) as we had used the last time we fished. We did adjust the strike indicator to accommodate the lower flows.
“The weather was a bit cool with light winds and cloudy skies. We began fishing and were into some nice trout almost immediately. The fishing was phenomenal. We had three doubles on the first two drifts. We fished for a couple of hours and landed around 40 trout. Unlike recent trips that featured small stocker trout, on this trip the average fish was in the 14- to 16-inch range. An 18-inch rainbow was the big fish.
“Lori turned and noticed some storm clouds forming south east of us. She was so concerned that she pulled out her iPhone and checked her weather app. The radar feature would not come up. She decided it was time to head home. She had caught plenty of fish and wanted to avoid the coming storm. I ran the boat over to the ramp to drop her off. She gathered up her fishing gear and walked over to her car. She drove home and arrived just as it began to rain.
“I was so stoked from the phenomenal fishing (we were fishing right in front of a front, which is always good fishing) that I stayed for a few more drifts. It started to sprinkle. Though I had a complete rain suit, I opted to just wear my rain jacket, leaving my rain pants in my boat locker. It turned out to be a bad idea. The rain increased and I decided to take one more drift. It turned out to be a drift too far.
“All of a sudden lightning began popping, accompanied by very loud thunder. I turned toward the ramp just as the bottom dropped out. I was immediately deluged by an extremely heavy rain. The water quickly rose in my boat as I reached the ramp. I got my boat on the trailer as fast as I could and pulled the plug in my boat to drain it. My bottom was soaked, as were my feet. I headed home but took the back roads to avoid traffic because I had trouble seeing the road in the heavy rain. By the time I got home the rain quit. It took me an extra day to dry my gear out.
“I should have left with Lori.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 694.79 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 579.08 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 5-27-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 7.6 feet to rest at 25.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 1 foot below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and reliable wadable water.
The White River system lakes are very near the top of flood pool. As soon as the flooding clears downstream, expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come.
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 pandemic there has been 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.
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.

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.