Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 1, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 1, 2020.

White River

(updated 7-1-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Summertime is the time to get out of that hot town and get to the river where you can feel a temperature drop of at least 10 degrees as you near the water's edge. Grab your fishing rod and tackle box and find out how the Arkansas Game and Fish Trout Program continues to provide the best trout fishery in the country. (Biased? Only a little.) Steady flows from Bull Shoals Dam have made the anglin' just a little easier since the trout are less agitated from changes in the water level. A near-steady release of 12,500 cfs (approximately four units) has been offered daily for the past two weeks and will continue into the foreseeable future (my forecast). This calls for more drifting, less opportunities to anchor over a favorite spot, but you'll find more pools of trout with your moving bait. Great water for your favorite jerk baits, lots of room to cast and retrieve. If you haven't tried the orange belly, blue back Smithwick or the silver/black Rapala, this is the time. That spot of red near the bill attracts the predators. Quite a few fishers have bragged about brass or orange colored spoons, and you will always catch a few with a yellow/orange/pink mix of power eggs followed by a tiny snack of shrimp on your hook. The swimming hole here in Cotter is a great place for a dip; just a few minutes in the spring and you're cool for the next 45. Remember to honor the social distancing rules so we can keep everything open and moving.

(updated 7-1-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says water is high with eight generators running round-the-clock. Trout fishing, they say, is excellent “if you have a good guide. Browns are still slow, but are coming back. Many, many rainbows are being caught and are a very good size.”

(updated 7-1-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, we have had two rain events (for a total of half an inch), much warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.7 feet to rest at 31.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.6 feet msl. This is 3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.4 feet to rest at 11.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.8 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 6.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 21.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.3 feet and 2.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The 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 peach egg suspended below it).
John also said, “My wife, Lori, has a sister, Terri, who along with her husband, Larry, are regular visitors with us here in Cotter. Terri is a retired nurse and Larry is a retired police officer. Both are avid fly-anglers. We have fished with them for almost 20 years. We always fish together when they visit. Due to the coronavirus they have not visited in a while. We were happy to see them.
“They really prefer to wade. However, the low wadable water that we had enjoyed early in the week had disappeared before they arrived. I decided to take them out in the boat. The flows we were having were around 6,000 cfs, which are a little less than two full generators. This is a near perfect level to fish from a boat.
“We got an early start. We had planned to leave the house at 7:30 a.m. but left at 7 a.m. because we were ready to go and there was no reason to sit around waiting. It was around 65 degrees with a heavy fog. I quickly launched my boat. We used the rods that Lori and I used early in the week because they were already rigged. They featured a red San Juan worm with a size 14 pheasant tail dropper. Lori and I had done well with that rig and I thought it would work well now.
“We only fished for a couple of hours but did quite well. Larry had the hot hand catching over a dozen trout, including a golden trout. I had heard that the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission had stocked them but I had not caught one. It was incredibly colorful. He also caught a fine 18-inch rainbow that put up an incredible fight. Terri caught a limit of rainbows.
That night we had a good half inch of rain. It was not enough to muddy the water, although it was lightly stained. We went fishing the next day even earlier than we had the previous day. We started at 6 a.m. The water conditions were the same, as was the heavy fog. We used the same flies and fished the same water. The only thing that changed was the fishing. While we had great fishing the day before, on this day the fishing was quite a bit slower.
“This day belonged to Terri. She had caught three trout before Larry caught one. He finally got in the game with a gorgeous 15-inch rainbow. Terri ended the day with the most fish and Larry ended the day with a few. They still enjoyed the day. It was great to be on the river. It was amazing to see the difference a day could make with the same conditions.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 692.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 927.28 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-1-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says access to the ramps and parking remains limited. “Call first, especially on weekends,” he suggests. Summer patterns are in effect, Del says. It’s topwater for the early mornings. Poppers and Berkley Wake Bait have been a staple of good fishing lately. Whopper Poppers, buzzbaits and chatterbaits are the go-to baits for power fishing for smallies and Kentucky bass out on the main lake and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swings, bluffs and bluff ends, where they are biting well on a swimbait near shad balls. On cloudy days with wind, a bug worm in sunken trees, near ledges, or a ½-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue in 18-28 feet is good. Jewel Special Ops Jig or a Beaver flipping the bushes in less than 10 feet where you can reach the shore will work. For smallmouth, the gravel banks, boat ramps and old roads are good places to drag baits like the Ned rig, Hula Grubs, tubes and the Lil’ Minnow. Drop-hot bluff points, main lake points and hump islands 24-36 feet deep.
The lake clarity is dingy to clear with a surface water temperature of 82 degrees. Water level remains very high, at 32 feet.
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 576.62 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 7-1-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake is still in a state of transition. The stripers have not migrated down towards the dam. Limits of stripers are being caught at the U.S. Highway 62 bridge, Float Creek, Panther Bay and Fall Creek. The lake temperature is still around 83 degrees and the thermocline is only at 17 feet. As the water temperature continues to rise, the stripers will be going deeper due to the thermocline should be around 32 feet at its peak. Look at water depths in the 50-100 feet range to find stripers. Trollers are catching stripers at 60 feet in Diamond Bay on swimbaits and A-rigs. “On the lower end of the lake, fish the points at first light then move to the bluff walls where the channel hits the bank,” Tom says. “My first light setup is two long lines 50-plus feet behind the boat with a split shot and gizzards. Downlines are set at 30, 40 and 50 feet. Once the sun is up all the downlines will be set at 60 feet.”
He says bass and walleye fishing is also good. They both are suspended over the shoreline buckbrush. Topwater plugs and flukes are working, and dropping a nightcrawler over the brush will produce walleye. Also, bottom bouncers with nightcrawlers along the old shoreline will produce walleye.

(updated 7-1-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, Fishing Norfork Lake has entered its summer pattern with striped bass going deep and most other species hoovering around the old shoreline of roughly 23 feet. It appears there may be a thermocline formed in the 20-foot range, plus or minus a foot or two. Hard to tell with a depth finder when it’s this shallow.
Striped bass fishing has been pretty good once you find the fish. They seem to be moving in and out of the major creeks. I am currently finding them on main lake bluff line points, especially when the point transitions from solid rock to chunk rock or gravel. The stripers seem to be close to the point, but still out in deep water 80 to 100 feet and most of the ones I have been catching are suspended 60 to 70 feet down. Some smaller stripers and hybrids are suspended about 20 to 30 feet down feeding on the shad which is staying close to the surface down to 20+ feet of water. The best fishing time for me at this time has been around 6:30am to 9am. There have been many reports of striped bass being caught lake wide, especially from the mid-lake area down to the dam and from the dam back towards Big Creek. I have mainly been fishing with threadfin and gizzard shad, but vertical jigging a spoon is working as well.
Largemouth bass fishing has also been good. The areas that have been best for me have been the same places where I have been finding striped bass. If there is bait on the points the bass will be from the surface down to about 25 feet. They have been close to the shore all the way to the bottom, especially later in the day, but the times I am fishing they are out in the deep water suspended and feeding heavily on shad. There still has been some topwater action, but this activity is slowing down. Swimbaits, spinner baits and minnow shaped crank baits are all working.
Walleye are being caught just outside of the sunken buck brush or on the old shoreline roughly 20 to 25 feet down. Dragging a crawler harness with a small spinner is picking up some nice fish. Crappie are in the same area, but may move up into shallow water during the day. With our high water there is brush all over the shoreline so the challenge is locating the fish.
The current water depth has been dropping roughly 3 inches a day with constant power generation and is at 576.76’ MSL. The surface water temperature this morning was 83 degrees. The water is clear with a slight stain, which is typical this time of year with the warmer water. Happy fishing and see you on the lake. Hope everyone has a happy and safe Independence Day.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-1-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 21.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.3 feet and 2.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The 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 (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 well. With summer here there is a lot of 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 7-1-2020) 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.