Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 15, 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 15, 2020.

White River

(updated 7-15-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said generation from Bull Shoals Lake into the tailwater known as the White River that flows through the beautiful Arkansas Ozarks has been fairly steady at around four to five units (14,000 cfs) and the lake elevation is finally below 690 feet msl, which puts it about 30 feet above power pool. “We still have a ways to go before river levels decrease significantly, but the trout fishing has been very good. Parents looking for a way to keep their kids active, interested and outdoors find fishing is the answer. Plus it's a great way to teach biology, environmental science, ecology and nutrition!
“Drifting a wriggling redworm or a fat nightcrawler has been a great way to pull in rainbows this week. You can't beat high water for the opportunity to bring out your big stick baits; cast upstream, keep a steady rein on your line, drift and twitch that bait on its way back to you, and chances are good that you'll bring some trout in for pictures and/or dinner. Try the 3/8-ounce, 4.5-inch orange- or silver-bellied Rogues first.
“’Tis the season for sunscreen, but remember to keep it away from your fishing equipment and bait – fish will turn away from the scent of sunscreen.”

(updated 7-15-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says anglers have been catching golden rainbow trout and tiger trout lately in the area. Both species were stocked by the AGFC a few weeks back. Tiger trout is a hybrid of brown trout and brook trout that was obtained from Wyoming. The limit on tiger trout is the same on Bull Shoals and Norfork tailwaters as rainbows and brown trout if caught outside the catch-and-release area – five trout daily limit, and anglers can only keep one trout over 14 inches regardless of species. All trout must be released in catch-and-release areas.
Golden rainbow trout have the same limit as the regular rainbows.
Rainbow fishing has been great, they say. Anglers are also catching several browns. The river level has been high with eight generators running, as the Army Corps of Engineers tries to lower the level of Bull Shoals Lake, which is 30 feet above conservation pool.

(updated 7-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they about an inch and a half or rainfall in Cotter, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 foot to rest at 29.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.1 feet msl. This is 4.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.8 feet to rest at 8.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 5.8 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 5.9 feet above seasonal power pool and two and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had moderate generation. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell one and three tenths feet to rest at nineteen and two tenths feet above seasonal power pool of 555.9 feet and four and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had heavy flows and no wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes 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 (sizes 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).

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 689.71 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 925.72 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-15-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the Corps of Engineers continues to limit access to ramps and parking, so Del urges customers/boaters/anglers to call first, especially on weekends. Summer fishing patterns are in effect. For largemouth bass, fish with topwaters in the mornings. Poppers, Berkley Wake Bait, Whopper Ploppers, buzzbaits or chatterbaits are the go-to for power fishing shallow if it’s cloudy or stormy. During the day, smallies and spotted bass (Kentucky bass) are stacked out on main and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swing bluffs and bluff ends. Use a big worm around sunken trees, near ledges, or a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue in 18-28 feet of water. Smallmouth bass will be around gravel banks, boat ramps and old roads. Drag baits like the Ned rig, Hula Grubs, tubes, the Lil’ McMinnow, and fish a drop-shot suspended off bluff points, main lake points and hump islands at 24-34 feet depth. Lake clarity is dingy to clear. Surface water temperature has reached 86 degrees. The lake is still over 30 feet high but 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 573.88 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).

(updated 7-15-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake is in a state of flux. The stripers have migrated from the mid-lake area and are now being caught in Diamond Bay and the points around the dam. The oxygen level is good at 100 feet near the dam, and in the other parts of the lower part of the lake the oxygen levels are OK. “Each morning I start out fishing by 5:30 a.m. but rarely catch a striper until 6 a.m. I cannot figure out where in the early mornings they are hanging out. The thermocline needs to set into its normal level around 34 feet, and the high temperatures this week should drive it down. Right now we are catching stripers in 20-80 feet deep all at one time. It's crazy on what we're doing. My setup has two free-lines and six downlines all set from 20-80 feet. Normally I set the lines all the same, but now you have to stagger your lines just to catch stripers. Today I caught a striper on a free-line, one at 60 feet, and one at 80 feet.
“The other major problem is there is no consistent secondary bite. Once the main bite is over, which usually ends around 7 a.m., we are having a difficult time getting stripers to bite. You can see lots of stripers on the bottom but they just look at the bait. Once we can figure this out we should catch a limit each time we go out and the stripers quit biting due to the oxygen depletion.”

(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 hovering 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, 80-100 feet, and most of the ones I have been catching are suspended 60-70 feet down. Some smaller stripers and hybrids are suspended about 20-30 feet down feeding on the shad, which is staying close to the surface down to 20-plus feet of water. The best fishing time for me at this time has been around 6:30-9 a.m. 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 toward 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, spinnerbaits and minnow-shaped crank-baits are all working.”
Lou says walleye are being caught just outside of the sunken buckbrush or on the old shoreline roughly 20-25 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 the 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 feet msl. The surface water temperature 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.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell one and three tenths feet to rest at nineteen and two tenths feet above seasonal power pool of 555.9 feet and four and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had heavy flows and no wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come.
The Norfork is fishing well. 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 an egg pattern 18 inches below a cerise San Juan worm. 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 and Norfork tailwater 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.
John also said, “A couple of weeks ago I had a half-day guide trip on Dry Run Creek with two 13-year-old boys. When I met them at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery, I was told that they were twins. Most of the twins that I have met looked very much alike. These boys didn’t even look like brothers. One of them was about a foot taller than the other. Both of them were eager to learn to fly-fish.
“My wife, Lori, accompanied me. Her guide trip that day had canceled and she decided to go with me so that we could give the boys more individual attention. That is the secret to success on Dry Run Creek.
“It was warm and sunny. The temperature did not affect us because it is always cool on the creek. It is located on a tight little valley with a lot of tree cover, and the cold discharge of water from the hatchery contributes to the cool. Frequently, when I climb the stairs out of the creek, my glasses cloud up from the quick change in temperature. There were a lot of young anglers on the stream mostly from the nearby campground at Quarry Park.
“The two lads didn’t look alike and didn’t fish alike. The one that I worked with was fairly laid back but listened to what I had to say and carefully did what I instructed him to do. That is a plan for success. He caught a good-sized rainbow on his third cast and carefully brought it in. A few casts later he landed a trophy 23-inch rainbow. He landed a few smaller fish before catching another slightly smaller trophy rainbow.
He then hooked a big trout. This one was fighting much more actively than any other trout we had encountered that day. It finally came to the net. It was a 24-inch cutthroat. They are harder to come by than rainbows or browns.
“Meantime Lori was working with his brother. It was a struggle. He tended to lower his rod every time he had a big trout on. That allows slack in the line and the trout can easily slip the hook. I gave Lori and her client the spot where we had done so well. My lad and I headed upstream to another spot. We managed to catch a nice brown and a few other trout. We were looking for a brook trout to get our grand slam but never saw one.
“While we were upstream, Lori was patiently working with her lad. He began getting better and was soon into some nice trout. He somehow managed to land the biggest trout of the day, a fat 25-inch rainbow.
“We finished the day fishing nearby and everyone was satisfied with their catch. Every child is different in the way they learn, even twins.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 7-15-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low. 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.