Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 24, 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 24, 2020.

White River

(updated 6-17-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Bull Shoals Lake and the lakes behind it are being managed very closely by the Corps of Engineers. Although the lakes all remain very high, water releases have been moderate but gradually increasing through this past week. Most days end with a little over five units being generated from Bull Shoals Dam, but we've been treated to morning releases of around 6,000 to 8,000 cfs.
“We ushered in the summer season with a week of sunshine and great trout-filled creels. Father's Day saw lots of dads being gifted with a day or two on the river. When water level remains near 6,000 cfs, the anglers have been successful with jigs – tri-olive, crawdad colors or the orange/brown skirted jigs. Give the kids some shrimp and chartreuse PowerBait and they'll bring a mess of rainbows to the boat, maybe even one of those glowing golden rainbows. Once in a while we're surprised by a good-sized brown snacking on the shrimp, too, but most often you'll need something more attractive to them before they'll show themselves. If you can round up a few crawdads or some 2-inch sculpins, your odds will improve. Don't let the higher water levels intimidate you; just add some extra weight on your line to ensure the bait is staying near the bottom and remember that fish really, really like water. Come and enjoy the sunshine and the cooler temps near the river's edge.”

(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 6-24-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said, “This week we have had some of the best flows for fishing that I have seen in quite a while. Each day as the water level dropped the fishing has gotten better. It is even lower today and I cannot wait to go. My wife, Lori, and I have been fishing nonstop to take advantage of the excellent conditions.
“The big advantage of living here is that we can take advantage of these unexpected changes. I check the Southwestern Power Administration predictions every day as soon as they come out. Then every morning I followup by checking the actual generation by referring to the Corps of Engineers website.
“Yesterday we got a later start than I wanted but it did not seem to matter. I got to Rim Shoals about 9 a.m. It was sunny with a temperature of 71 degrees and a gentle breeze. The water level was about 2,200 cfs or the rough equivalent of two-thirds of one full generator. There were a few boats there before us but they were fishing somewhere else.
“I rigged the rods. On mine I put a pheasant tail (size 14) dropper below a red San Juan worm. On Lori’s rod I put a ruby midge (size 18) below the same pheasant tail. I added an AB split shot and set the strike indicator 5 feet above the bottom fly. The idea is to rig two different ways and then see which is the most productive and then change the less productive rig.
“I launched the boat and began fishing. Lori arrived a few minutes later. She had fed and walked the dogs. I ran the boat over to the ramp and picked her up. We began fishing. I caught five on the first two drifts. Lori only caught two. We re-rigged her rod so that it was the same as mine. We began catching at the same rate.
“The fishing was hot. We were catching five or six on each drift. We had five doubles. While we did not catch a huge fish but caught several in the 16- to 18-inch range. All were rainbows. It was the best day we have had in a few months. When we were fishing or loading my boat on the trailer I talked to other guides and anglers. All were having a good day and all caught plenty of trout. Everyone, including Lori and me, were stoked.
“Now today, we have even lower water. We have wadable water on both the White and Norfork rivers, as I write this. I am chomping at the bit. Lori assures me that she is all fished out, so I will go by myself. I would prefer that she accompany me but I understand her situation. We have been fishing a lot for the last few days and she wants to take a day off. Take advantage of this great water, it won’t last forever.”
John adds that the recent hot spot on the White below Bull Shoals 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).

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 6-24-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says there is still limited access to ramps and parking with the lake so high. It’s 34 feet high as of Tuesday early afternoon but is slowly falling, he said. Surface temperature is 80 degrees and the clarity is dingy to clear. Call ahead, especially on weekends, about access to ramps and parking. Summer fishing patterns are in effect. In the early morning, use topwater baits, poppers,. Berkley Wake Bait for smallies and Kentucky bass on the main and secondary points, along with the sunken islands, hump, bluff and bluff ends. They’re also biting well on swimbaits near shad balls. On cloud days with wind, the Big Worm is good in sunken trees. Use a ½-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue and target 18-28 feet. Also, try a Jewel Special Ops Jig or a Beaver flipping the bushes in less than 10 feet where you can reach the shore. Smallmouth bass are being caught around the gravel banks, boat ramps and old roads – good places to drag baits like the Ned rig, Hula Grubs, Tubes, the Lil’ McMinnow or Carolina rigs from 18-32 feet down. Drop-shot summer patterns are working near bluff points, main lake points and hump islands from 24-36 feet down.
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 6-24-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said 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 6-24-2020) 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.