Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 5, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report August 5, 2020.

White River

(updated 8-5-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “If ever you wanted to be on the river, it would be now. We have been blessed with fantastically mild August weather: sunshine, low(er) humidity, and temperatures in the low to mid-80s for a few more days. Breathtaking and gorgeous. Water levels have decreased to just below 9,000 cfs during the day, but evening releases of six generators (18,000 cfs) continue. Orange and black jigs have proven successful on the lower water, and rogues and stick baits with orange bellies, black backs and silver sides compete nicely. Swim them mid-depth with a small tug now and again.
“Yellow and/or Sunrise PowerBait are bringing in the rainbows of a good size and color. The catch of golden rainbow trout is not as large as you might expect based on how luminous they appear in the clear, cold White River waters, but they're a favorite to look for and lots of fun when you finally hook one. Come on over, get out of the house, and enjoy the great weather in the beautiful Natural State and the Arkansas Ozarks.”

(updated 8-5-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the water is still high. Trout fishing, though, is very good. Drift-fishing with PowerBait and Power Worms has been excellent. Fly-fishing is working out well for anglers, too. The clarity is “really good,” they report, with just a little moss seen toward the evenings. Eight generators are running round-the-clock at Bull Shoals Dam.

(updated 8-5-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had a few minor rain events that combined for about half an inch, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.1 feet to rest at 25.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 8.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.5 feet to rest at 1.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 12.1 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 4.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 4.3 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 1.2 feet to rest at 14.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 9.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater had low flows overnight and heavy flows during the day. Most of 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,” John said. “Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. My 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 in the morning recently have been extremely productive. The hot spot has been Wildcat 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 girdle bug suspended below it).
Remember that the White and Norfork rivers 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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 685.87 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 917.98 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-5-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that the Corps of Engineers is allowing limiting access to ramps and parking; customers/boaters/anglers should 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.
The water continues to run high, but it’s at 27 feet above normal at last check and falling. The clarity is dingy to clear, and surface water temperature is 87 degrees. 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 569.68 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).

(updated 8-5-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Norfork Lake continues to frustrate me. One day you can catch your limit in minutes, then you only catch one or two stripers. After a couple of days of catching only a few fish, Tuesday was the exception – the stripers and hybrids went crazy in Hand Cove area. Acres of hybrids and stripers were feeding from 20-40 feet and it only took 20 minutes to catch a limit. What's crazy is the first fish we caught were in 70 feet of water and we caught it at 60 feet. Right now you have to fish all the water columns within a four-hour trip.
“Today I left the dock at 4:30 a.m. and had poles in the water by 4:45 a.m. We fished for almost an hour and were on hundreds of stripers but did not get a bite. I moved to my second spot and found hundreds of hybrids feeding at 30 feet. We caught one quickly but we spent over an hour following the school but only caught a short striper. They would not bite. Some of the problems are all the short storms and fronts and the full moon. Stripers are like deer – they will feed all night on a full moon. We caught a nice striper, and at 8:30 a.m. at our fourth spot, again we were all over the stripers but we could not get them to hit. If we did not have the hot weather it probably would be better to fish in the afternoon.”
Tom says the thermocline is at 25 feet and they are seeing stripers at all water columns. “Some of this to feed on crawdads and the other is to find better oxygen. You will see a lot more of this as we move into August,” he said.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 8-5-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 14.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 9.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater had low flows overnight and heavy flows during the day. Most of 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 is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during flooding over the past two years. 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 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.
John says, “From time to time, guides are asked to fish three anglers at the same time. It is usually a family group or three close friends that want to fish together. It can be problematic and many guides do not want to do it.
“When you are wading it is difficult to find productive fishing spots for three anglers that are reasonably close together. This means that the guide is required to constantly troop the line and deal with tangled lines, correct angling techniques and net fish. A full day is quite a workout. On Dry Run Creek it is even more challenging. At any one time one angler has his fly in a tree, another is hopelessly tangled and a third has a huge trout on the line. Any hope of individualized attention is lost. The emphasis is always on the big trout.
In a boat it can be even more problematic. A White River Jon Boat is usually 20 feet long and there is just not enough room for three anglers to cast at the same time. Lines can cross and tangle and an energetic trout can create havoc by swimming into another line. Netting a trout with three lines out can be very tricky. Guides with jet motors and oars or drift boats simply do not have enough room for three anglers to sit.
“I have found a simple technique to handle three anglers in my boat. I have a large boat (60 inches wide) and a propeller motor with no oars (I have a trolling motor). This gives me enough room to handle them. I allow two anglers to fish at a time. The third angler is designated the netter. I will handle any big trout. As one angler catches a few fish, they replace the netter so everyone gets a chance to catch trout. I let them decide when to switch places.
Last Friday I had a three-person family group – a father, son and grandfather. In addition to fishing three in a boat, they were concerned with their fly-fishing prowess and asked if they could also bring spinning rods. I explained that it would be unnecessary but if they wanted to bring them they could. I felt sure that I could have them catching trout on flies in no time, even in heavy water.
“We began at 7:30 a.m. It was a cool start but it promised to get hot in the afternoon. They (the Corps of Engineers) were running about 11,000 cfs (about three and a half full generators). The day went well and soon everyone had caught trout. When we stopped for lunch, they put the spinning rods in their truck. We continued fishing and ended the day with over 30 trout. They were stoked.
“With a little patience and planning you can handle three anglers. It is a full day’s work for the guide but is also rewarding to please your clients and meet their needs.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 8-5-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. John’s favorite fly 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.