Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 17, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report June 17, 2020.

White River

(updated 6-17-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Trout fishing has been spectacular this week. Though Bull Shoals Lake is very near maximum capacity, water releases have been minimal even allowing for wading in places. The morning temperatures have been so perfect, low 60s, clear skies, gentle wind, afternoon temps may be a little warmer than is comfortable for some – just splash some of the icy cold, crystal-clear White River water around and you'll cool off for a good while. Along with drifting worms (bubblegum pink or wriggling redworms), the best bait this week has been a brown and peach or brown and olive jig. The browns have been nibbling river minnows but turning their noses up at sculpins. However, with the minimum flow generation this week, I think the sculpin bite will undoubtedly return, so scare up a few fresh ones and find your brown trout. Remember to maintain social distancing rules, but also know that there hasn't been any reported COVID cases found in a rainbow yet, so you can bring them in close and take a few home without a worry. See you on the river!”

(updated 6-17-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the Corps of Engineers “is hardly running any water (at the dam), even though the (Bull Shoals) lake is full.” With lower water, trout have been excellent. They say fishing has been really good using shrimp, PowerBait and stick baits.

(updated 6-17-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that over the previous week they had 2½ inches of rain from Cristobal, warmer temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 foot to rest at 31.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 1.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 foot to rest at 12.7 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.3 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 7.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and there was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 22.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 1 foot below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water. The lakes in the White River System are near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section at 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 a size 14 peach egg suspended below it).
John also said, “We are in the middle of the second straight year of high water. This year we are way over our normal rain amounts and there is no end in sight. I have a friend who was a hydrologist for the Corps of Engineers who once told me that the high-water years seem to happen in three-year cycles. We often have three low water years followed by three high water years. I was hoping for a sooner end to the high water.
“This heavy rain has resulted in very high lake levels. Last week Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes were actually over the top of flood pool. This is the maximum level that the Corps of Engineers allows the lakes to reach. In order to get the lake levels down, they had opened the flood gates to allow more water to flow in our rivers.
“About this time we heard about a named tropical storm, Cristobal, heading our way. This was not a hurricane but was close to it and it was scheduled to cause a lot of rain and flooding everywhere it went. Living in Cotter, a small town on the river, below a dam that was at its maximum capacity, we had some serious concerns. The storm was expected to drop from 2-4 inches of rain in our area in a short time. In addition the weather forecast warned about local flooding.
“There was information from the Corps of Engineers that said that depending on the level of rain we received they would run from 40,000 to 60,000 cfs depending on how much rain we received. The last time we had a situation like this was in 2011. They had to open the flood gates and generators to release a total of 52,000 cfs. This resulted in flooding in low-lying areas of Cotter. The old Miller Trout Dock was flooded so bad it was a complete loss. At 60,000 cfs we could expect even more damage. Properties on the river would be in danger of flooding.
“My wife, Lori, and I did everything we could to prepare. I made sure that my riverboat was covered, my cats were fed and anything that needed to be inside was. Lori fed the dogs early and walked them just before the rain started. They liked that. We watched the storm moving on the television and hoped for the best.
“Somehow the rain did not seem as heavy as predicted. We ended up getting about 2½ inches. As a result there were no additional flows from the flood gates. The lakes did not rise appreciably and there was no flooding.
“Our lakes are still very high. They have begun adding flows on the Norfork through the flood gates, and I predict that they will do the same on the White soon.
“We got lucky this time. We had no flooding and our river levels are fishable. Life is good!”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 693.80 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 929.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 6-17-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reminds anglers and other lake users that there is still limited access to ramps and parking; call first, especially on weekends. The summer fishing patterns are in effect, he said. The bite has slowed down. Fish the conditions. Smaller Kentucky bass are out on main and secondary points, bluffs and bluff ends and being caught on swimbaits or jerkbaits near shad balls on cloudy and windy days. The spinnerbait or chatterbait on old channel banks and bushes with stained water will work as well. Big worms in sunken trees or a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue is good in 18-28 feet of water. Jewel Special Ops Jig or a Beaver flipping the bushes in less than 10 feet where you can reach the shore. Small poppers will work around fish busting the surface. Overall, the topwater has been slower than normal. For smallmouth, the gravel banks, boat ramps and old roads are good places to drag baits like the Ned rig, Hula Grubs Tubes, the Lil McMinnow or Carolina rigs 18-32 feet down. Drop-shot summer patterns are also starting near the bluffs, main lake points and hump islands 24-36 feet down. Check the flooded saddles and near down current areas holding bait.
Water clarity is dingy to clear, he says, with surface water temperature hitting 80 degrees. The lake is 34 feet above normal conservation level and slowing falling. 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 578.98 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 6-17-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “It has been a while since I posted a fishing report on this forum, but that doesn’t mean I have not been out on the lake. I just have not been able to get out as much as I normally do. But if you want to see what our guests or I have been catching, go to Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page and you will see more frequent reports and photos.
“It took longer than normal, but Norfork Lake is warming up and the fish are just starting to enter into their summer pattern. This typically means that most species, especially striped bass, start to go deep to reach cooler water. With the warmer water a thermocline will form, but I have not noticed one at this time, but it will start soon in roughly 20 feet of water and as the warm summer days progress, it will go deeper and deeper. Once a thermocline forms, a lot of fish species will stay close to that level either a little above or a little below. The cold water starts just below the thermocline.
“Striped bass fishing has been good. This has been one of the best years I have seen for topwater action for striped bass in many years. It is still occurring but is slowly coming to an end. Zara Spooks, Flukes, Kastmasters and live bait with no weight have all been working. The best time for topwater action is right as the sky starts getting a little bright, around 5:30 a.m. and it has been lasting for maybe an hour or until the sun comes up. I am finding stripers in the early morning on main lake points from 20 feet of water out to 100 feet of water. The fish at this time are on the surface to 10 feet deep. Once the sun gets above the tree line the stripers are going deeper. I have caught them anywhere from 40 feet down to 70 feet. It can be any depth, but typically I have been in 100-plus feet of water. The stripers are tending to come shallow again right as it is getting dark. Main lake points have been the best areas for me.
“Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass have been in the same areas as striped bass early in the morning. They are chasing shad on the surface, and this bite typically has lasted longer than the topwater striped bass bite. When the bass go down, work the shoreline out to 30 feet of water. Fish on points that have a lot of sunken brush on them. The bass seem to be hanging at the top of the sunken brush. Swimbaits, spinnerbaits and deeper diving crankbaits are all working well. Most other plastics are also working, but try and make the baits weedless, as you will need to fish on top of or inside of the brush.
“Walleye are up in the sunken brush or near the old shoreline of 20-25 feet of water. Deep-diving minnow-style crankbaits such as a Berkley Flicker Minnow or Flicker Shad are working. They are scattered out, so keep working the shoreline. Crappie are also scattered out from the old shoreline up to near the new shoreline. Small grubs tipped with a crappie minnow have been picking up a few fish. There is a lot of brush under the water, so the crappie have lots of places to feed.”
The current water depth has been fairly stable the last couple of days and is at 578.93 feet msl as of this report. The surface water temperature is in the upper 70s to low 80s. The water is clear with a slight stain, which Lou says, “is typical this time of year with the warmer water. Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

(updated 6-10-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Norfork Lake is hot. Literally the lake temperature went from 72 plus last week to 85 degrees today. It might cool down a little with coming rains but don't expect much. From now through September it is advised to not throw back any legal stripers. Studies have shown that 75% of stripers caught in water temperatures above 75 degrees will die within seven days. Catch your limit, call it a day, and enjoy your striper dinner.
“The full moon this past weekend had the stripers feeding before light, then about an hour after light, and once the sun came up the shallow water bite quits. For the early bite we are using threadfin shad on a freeline with a small split shot. The stripers and hybrids are about 20 feet down and feeding on schooling shad. If you're lucky you can catch your limit very quickly but all things have to go your way.
“Once the early bite is over I switch gears and move to bluffs with a channel swing and set out two freelines 100 to 150 feet behind the boat then six downlines set at 60 feet. Most of my fish are caught on the downlines. I target water around 80 feet deep. The stripers are feeding heavy on crawdads and will attack the shad swimming just above them. This technique will become the standard way you fish for stripers for the next three months. Stripers are being caught at Cranfield, Panther Bay, Crystal Cove, Diamond Bay and the main lake points heading towards Big and Brushy Creeks.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 6-17-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 22.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 1 foot below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water. The lakes in the White River System are near the top of flood pool. 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 (size 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 River, Norfork tailwater and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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 6-17-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. 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.