Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 29, 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 29, 2020.

White River

(updated 7-29-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “The water level at Bull Shoals Lake is dropping nicely; probably not as quickly as the lake anglers would like and probably a little too fast for river denizens who would like to see less generation from the dam. But less than two months ago we were very close to reaching flood pool and the possibility of spillway releases, so I applaud the Corps of Engineers for the successful management of massive amounts of water and keeping all of us in the White River water shed from being flooded.
“We continue to receive an average of four units (12,000 cfs) round-the-clock with little or no drop overnight. Food supply is plentiful for the trout, so look for something to shiny or catch their attention. We're still seeing a good bite using the orange-bellied stick baits; blue backs are preferred over black. While the higher water level might produce a smaller fish count, you'll be more likely to catch a fatter rainbow drifting a red wriggler or any of the XFactor scented worms. Try a white worm and see what bites.
“The golden rainbows are an eye-catcher and fun to watch. I'll say it again: Hook them with purple – purple Trout Magnet with some added weight to keep the bait nearer the bottom than topwaters.
“Early morning is the best time to be on the river with casting crawdad tails or crawfish crankbaits near the bank. We're looking forward to a small drop in the temperature and maybe a shower or two. That means overcast skies – the absolutely best time to fish for trout. Come on over and test the forecast for fishing. See you soon.”

(updated 7-29-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says fishing is very good this week. Anglers are catching a lot of the hybrid tiger trout that were stocked in the White below Bull Shoals Dam several weeks back. They report that “everything is biting well.” The river clarity is “really good, a little mossy towards the evening.” The river continues to run high with eight generators running round-the-clock from Bull Shoals Dam.

(updated 7-29-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that this week they had no rain, hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.8 feet to rest at 26.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 7.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 2.7 feet to rest at 3.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 10.6 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 4.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation in the morning and heavy generation in the afternoon. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2 feet to rest at 15.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 8.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had low flows overnight and heavy flows during the day. The lakes in the White River system are still near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water into the fall.
The grass hopper bite is upon us. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. John’s favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch.
The White has fished well. The lower flows seen in the mornings have been extremely productive. 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 said, “My wife, Lori, and I both consider ourselves teaching guides. We specialize in teaching beginners how to fly-fish, either in our fly-fishing classes at Arkansas State University Mountain Home or on-stream. The basic principle is individual attention. We concentrate our efforts in showing our students exactly how to catch fish. We are frequently called on to improve outcomes.
“My friend Dave Boyer, the president of the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, called me to assist him in helping his granddaughter to catch trout. It should be noted that Dave is an accomplished angler and an outstanding fly-tyer. He had taken her to Dry Run Creek and on the White River. She was hooking trout but was having a problem with line control while fighting fish and was not landing them. I suggested a return to Dry Run Creek but he was more interested in fishing on the White River, despite our current high-water conditions.
“We scheduled a trip. I asked Lori to accompany us because she is very competent when guiding children and I thought that she would be especially effective with Hope. She is a great example of women in fly-fishing and would be able to better relate with a young lady.
“Lori and I met them early to avoid the heat of the day. There was a heavy fog on the river. It was a cool start but the temperature was to climb into the 90s that afternoon. The river was high. The flow was around 17,000 cfs, or more than five full generators.
“The fishing was not easy. Because of the high water, we were casting heavily weighted two fly rigs with long leaders (10.5 feet). We tried several flies but had the best result with a weighted peach egg pattern suspended below a cerise San Juan worm. Lori concentrated her full attention on coaching Hope. I concentrated on operating the boat, keeping us on trout and netting Dave’s trout.
“When we started, Lori gave Hope an in depth-casting lesson that was specific toward handling the heavy rig. As we fished, she kept an eagle eye on Hope’s strike indicator and let her know whenever she had a strike. When Hope had a fish on, Lori jumped into action and would gently lift her rod to show her how much tension to put on the trout and to keep the line tight. She carefully coached her on how to land each fish. When she made an error, Lori gently explained what had gone wrong and how to correct it. We she did something right, Lori praised her. As the day went on, Hope improved. She began catching trout. She ended the day matching granddad fish for fish and caught the big fish of the day, a stout 18-inch rainbow. Hope learned a lot and Dave was pleased.
“The best way to teach is individual attention from an instructor than can relate to their student.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 686.92 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 919.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 7-29-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says there have been no changes in the fishing and pretty much the water on Bull Shoals Lake the past week. The clarity is dingy to clear and the surface water temperature is 89 degrees. The water level, though high, is falling. The Corps of Engineers is still limiting access to ramps and parking, so Del suggests customers/boaters/anglers call first, especially on weekends. Summer fishing patterns are in effect. For largemouth bass, fish with topwaters in the mornings. Berkley Wake Bait, poppers, Whopper Plopper, buzzbaits or chatterbaits continue to work 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. With shad present, fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. Still a lot of places for them to hide with high water, so keep it moving. Use a big worm in 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 are at gravel banks, boat ramps and old roads. Drag baits like the Ned rig, Hula Grubs, tubes, the Lil’ McMinnow, and fish a drop-shot suspenders off bluff points, main lake points and hump islands at 24-34 feet depth. 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 570.99 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.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-29-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2 feet to rest at 15.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 8.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had low flows overnight and heavy flows during the day. The lakes in the White River system are still near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water into the fall.
The Norfork tailwater is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during 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. Fish early or late to avoid the crowds. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is closed, so there are no open restrooms available there. 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 7-29-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and gin clear. 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.