Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 19, 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 19, 2020.

White River

(updated 8-19-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is continuing to drop; lake elevation is 681.8 feet msl, 20 feet above desired power pool. Fishing on the White River below Bull Shoals Dam was a treat this week: mild August days; fairly steady flows at about 10,000 cfs (three units); clear, cold water; and the trout were biting – a lot. Anglers kept the bait near the bottom with a quarter-ounce sinker, and the rainbows snatched if they detected a little shrimp or fresh crawdad meat on the hook. Try jigging a red wiggler or a white skirted 1/8-ounce jig for a flurry of action. The favorite spot for browns this week was upstream of Rim Shoals drifting river minnows or crawdads.
“Lots of sunshine is on call and the trout bite promises to be exciting. With school starting next week in many communities, now would be a great time for a final summer fling with the kids. Come drop a line in the White and pull in a rainbow or two; enjoy the Natural State with us.”

(updated 8-19-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says that it was a mixed bag of fishing this past week. “When the water is lower, fly-fishing is doing good with jigs and streams,” they say. Yellow PowerBait, lures, spoons and waxworms were the baits of choice.
They also say that generators were turned down to three or four in the evening into the early morning, while during the day the Corps of Engineers turns it up to eight generators. Clarity is “really good.” River level is high. Overall trout bite is good, they say.

(updated 8-19-2020) 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 a quarter-inch of rainfall, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3 feet to rest at 21.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 12.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.3 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell a foot to rest at 2.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 5.7 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 2.1 feet to rest at 11.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 12.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had low flows overnight and heavy flows during the day. Most of the lakes are still near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water into the fall.
John says, “The grass hopper bite is upon us. 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.”
He adds that the White has fished well. “The lower flows we have had in the morning have been extremely productive. The hot spot has been 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 girdle bug) suspended below it.
John says, “The life of a fly-fishing guide has been challenged this year. The coronavirus pandemic completely shut down my business for over two months. Now that I am back on the river with clients, I have had to change several aspects of my business to protect my client’s health and my own.
“We are now well into our second high-water year in a row. We have been plagued with high levels of generation from our local dams and have had precious little wadable water. The high water has confined us to fishing from a boat. It has required us to use heavy flies, lots of lead and long leaders. These rigs have been difficult to cast and are easy to tangle.
“To further make life challenging for me, the weather has been very hot recently. Just last Sunday I had a full day guiding on a day where the temperature hit 97 degrees and a heat index of 108 degrees. It was sunny and there was little wind. I was pretty worn out when I got home.
“Even when we have conditions like these, I occasionally get those memorable days on stream that I relish. A week ago I had a day with great weather, great water and a great client. It was by far my best day of guiding this year.
“After weeks of days with temperatures in the 90s we had a day with a high of 80 degrees. It was 56 degrees when I got up that morning and I wore a light down sweater until after 10 a.m. because it was so cool. After the fog burned off, the temperature was perfect. It was sunny with a light wind.
“The Corps of Engineers were running a bit less than 10,000 cfs or the rough equivalent of three full generators. This is the lowest water I have seen in months. It was a great flow for fishing. There was plenty of water for a good float and low enough for easy fishing. The fish were more concentrated in the lower water and we could use shorter leaders, making casting easier.
“My client, Lee, was an experienced angler who had fished just about every major trout stream in the United States and had also fished several tropical spots noted for trophy saltwater action. He is a major fly-fishing blogger and frequently reads my articles on the internet. We hit it off from the first minute we met.
“We began early and landed our first trout on the first drift. Then the action slowed and we had a dry spell. I changed flies over to a girdle bug (see last week’s listing for more on the girdle bug) under a pink San Juan worm. We began catching trout, and the action continued all day. He was an excellent caster and concentrated on line control. Since it was a sunny day and the water was lower, he could see sunken trees and other obstructions. Therefore we only lost two flies over the day. There were no tangles and a lot of fish.
“We finished the day with around 30 trout, and several were large. It was a perfect day.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 681.68 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 916.84 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-19-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the Army Corps of Engineers continues to limit access to ramps and parking; customers/boaters/anglers should call first, especially on weekends. Del says the bass bite is changing a little every day now. The Corps is pumping water out of the lake, and this has the fishing moving out on points. There is plenty of baitfish suspended deep off the points; generally it runs 10-15 feet depth early and then drops to 20-28 feet later in the day. If it’s hot, go deep, he says. If it’s cloudy and windy, work shallow. Throw topwater baits in the mornings. Berkley Wake Bait, poppers, a Whopper Plopper, buzzbait or chatterbaits are best for powerfishing shallow if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with shad.
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 20-25 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 26-32 feet depth.
Lake clarity is dingy to clear, while the surface water temperature is 85 degrees. Lake level is just over 20 feet high and 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 566.56 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).

(updated 8-19-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Each year that we have high water we experience a low oxygen level during late August. This is due to the lake level being lowered. As the lake is lowered, the oxygen is being depleted. Stripers need 5 parts per million to be active, and as the oxygen begins to decline and the water warms up, the stripers begin to stress and move deeper in the lake to find more oxygen. By the end of August the oxygen is less than 1 percent and the stripers will begin to become dormant. This will last into the first part of September, then they begin to move up the creeks.
“This year we have seen an early start to their inactivity. This past week on Wednesday I caught five stripers; Thursday we boated six; and on Friday zero – the average is two or less. The stripers will move deep and quit eating to reduce the need for oxygen. Live bait and spooning has been the less productive catching stripers. Some are being caught trolling, but it's not worth the money to fish the lower end of Norfork until later in September. The stripers will move to Robinson Point and up Big Creek as the oxygen returns.
“But it's not all bad news. The walleye bite is very strong right now. They are being caught using bottom bouncers and nightcrawlers in 22-28 feet of water off the flat points like Thumb Point and Skunked Islands. I did a test run going up the lake past the state line and found schools of legal but small stripers that were feeding heavy during the early morning. The waters up there are shallow and will begin to cool down much faster than the main lake. Once it hits 80 degrees a major striper push will occur and you will see lots of action.
“Until sometime in late October, if you want to fish with us expect that we will be fishing above the state line, which requires both Arkansas and Missouri fishing licenses. If you're a resident of either state you can purchase a (WRL) White River Border License that allows you to fish in either state. It’s $10 and good for a year.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 8-19-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 11.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 12.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had low flows overnight and heavy flows during the day. Most of the lakes 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 in 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. You should fish early or late to avoid the crowds. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms are still closed. 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 8-19-2020) 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.