Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 30, 2021

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, 2021.

White River
(updated 7-1-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Celebrate Independence Day on the cold, refreshing White River in the Ozark Mountain territory.Add some trout fishing to the day and you'll make memories to last a lifetime.”
Bull Shoals Dam has been averaging 12,500 cfs daily over the last week; that equals roughly four generators/units, if you use that method to estimate water levels. The good news is that the flow has remained fairly constant, which causes less stress to the trout than frequent changes to the generation amounts.
“The rainbow catch is looking healthy and they seem to be looking for bigger baits. We brought two nice browns to the boat (Wednesday) afternoon – a 22-inch and an 18-inch – drifting the bubblegum pink worms mid-depth. The browns left the crawdad tails and sculpins to the rainbows.
“Maybe it was the front moving in that made for the change, but for the most part we expect lots of sun and clear skies this week. That will require bright-colored bait (fluorescent yellow, white and maybe some glitter), finding deeper holes and adding more weight to your line. Don't forget your sunblock, but apply it away from your fishing area, keep your hands and tackle free from sunscreen, and enjoy the freedom of fishing this Fourth of July.”

(updated 7-1-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they’ve had two rain events in Cotter that totaled 1 inch of rainfall, along with brutally hot temperatures and, at times, heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1 inch to land at 26.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.53 feet msl. This is 7.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.6feet to rest at 3.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 10.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 6.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 16 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.28 feet msl and 7.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water at night. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains. Expect high levels of generation in the near future.
With the higher flows, the fishing on the White has slowed. The top 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 pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper).
Remember that the White River, North Fork 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.

(updated 7-1-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said Wednesday afternoon that the brown trout are perking up while the rainbow trout are good, especially for those drift-fishing. River conditions and clarity are improving, they say. The river conditions and clarity are improving, though the river level remains high. The Army Corps of Engineers are running six to eight generators on the dam. THe overall trout bite is good, they say. For baits, try using pink Powerbait., little Silver Cleo’s, Rooster Tails (light greens and browns), worms and shrimp.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 687.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.90 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 920.31 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 7-1-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported Bull Shoals is dropping a little, with the most recent reading at 29 feet above normal pool. Temperature of the water is 80 degrees, depending on location. Clarity is good, and the lake is about 28 feet above normal pool. Limited parking and boat ramp access is an issue. Plan ahead, especially on the weekends. Despite the flooding water, clarity is good. The fishing is fair. Warmer temps are bringing more boat traffic. Some fish are up shallow with the high water. Get up early and look shallow on the flats in the c reeks for largemouth bass. For smallmouth, look mostly toward the m ain lake area. Target long points and sunken humps and islands. The shad are moving. In the shad, try fluke or a 2.8 swimbait. The topwater bite has been good early or late using poppers or small walk-the-dog, Spook, Lucky Craft or some other smaller profile.
If it’s clear,use blue birds and get vertical with a drop-shot 24-32 feet on bluffs on long points. The backs of creeks have a little color change. If they are running water, fish the points. You can always catch them on a jig in channel or channel swings.
Visit Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing the lake.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 571.79 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.65 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).

(updated 6-17-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is transitioning from the spring bite to the summer bite. In essence, the fish are going deeper as the water warms. “Thursday morning the surface temp was 84, but I don’t think this temp extends too far down at this time. As the warm water goes deeper, a thermocline will form and continue to go deeper as the water temp continues to rise.
“Overall, the fishing for most species on Norfork Lake has been very good. There is still a very good topwater bite for largemouth bass, as well as for striped and hybrid bass. I would assume the topwater activity for striped bass will not last much longer unless we get some cooler weather. It does not look like that will happen.
“I have mainly been using two different baits for topwater activity: my Kastmaster (blade-type bait) and a Zara Spook Jr. Today I strictly used the Kastmaster, as there was a lot of small debris floating and that is not conducive to using a Zara Spook. When I see fish chasing shad on the surface, I try to cast my bait just past the activity. When the bait hits the water. I count down 2 seconds, then I start the retrieval with a jerk, then pause, then reel, then pause and start it all over again back to the boat. You have to see what the fish are looking for speed-wise. The topwater activity for the striped bass starts around 5:30 a.m. and may last until about 6:30 to 7 a.m. Once the fish stop chasing shad on the surface, they start going deep. I am marking fish anywhere from 30 feet to 80 feet deep. Forty feet down seems to be a good place to set up your bait. Live bait is definitely working the best, but vertical jigging a ¾- to 1-ounce spoon is starting to pick us some nice fish.
“If you like trolling, an umbrella rig is working really well. Keep the bait 35-45 feet down and you will catch some nice stripers. A-rigs, deep-diving crankbaits and large swimbaits are also working well, but you will more than likely need to add some inline weight to get deeper. Using a down rigger would be the easiest.
“The largemouth bite has been very good. There are lots of fish up in the sunken brush, but many of them are shorts. The topwater for this species also starts at sunrise and typically has lasted longer than the striped bass topwater activity. I have found that the fish chasing shad close to shore are predominantly shorts, but if you look out in the same area in deeper water and notice fish chasing shad, you’ll find the bigger fish. Today I caught some real nice bass in 120 feet of water, roughly 50 yards away from the bank. The bass also are going deeper as the sun gets high in the sky. Start working the bottom when they go down, in 15-25 feet of water.
“Best areas for me have been main lake points in the mid-lake area. I have always had the best luck finding fish on the points that have a deep-water channel swinging in close to the point. The fish are also back in several of the major creeks that are located in several different areas of the lake.
“If you are looking for almost daily fishing activity on Norfork Lake, go to our Facebook page for Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. I post daily fishing reports of what I am doing, as well as our guests. Norfork Lake level is fairly stable at this time and is rising less than 1 inch per day. The level is 573.02 feet msl. The surface water temperature was 84 degrees (Thursday) morning and the clear is fairly clear. If you are looking for a great vacation, call Hummingbird Hideaway Resort at 870-492-5113. Norfork Lake is all about fishing, playing or just relaxing on the water. Happy fishing.”

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 7-1-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 16 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.28 feet msl and 7.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water at night. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains. Expect high levels of generation in the near future.
The Norfork tailwater is fishing moderately. 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. John’s current favorite combination is a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper.
Dry Run Creek is fishing moderately. There is increased pressure with warmer weather. Fish early or late to avoid the crowds (the creek is open to fishing from sunrise to sundown). 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), mop flies and egg patterns.
John also said, “One of the things that can happen when you are wading is to fall into the river. I always say that it is not a matter of if, but when. Over my almost 40 years of fly-fishing this area, I have had the opportunity to fall into just about every stream around here. A couple of days ago I was able to fall into Dry Run Creek. It was not my first rodeo.
“My wife, Lori, had booked a trip guiding Kennon, a 13-year-old girl. Her grandparents brought her up to learn how to fly-fish. They also brought a couple of chairs to sit in on the bank so that they could also enjoy the trip.
“It was a warm sunny day. The high was 95 degrees. Dry Run Creek is in a tight little valley. There is a lot of tree cover that offers a lot of shade. On a day like this, it can be 15-20 degrees cooler on the creek than in the parking lot. It was quite pleasant there despite the high temperature.
“Kennon was doing very well. Lori worked carefully with her. I was walking the creek all of the way to the confluence with the North Fork River to identify any new spots to fish. When I finished that, I joined Lori and the grandparents to watch Kennon fish. She caught several nice trout, including a stout 24-inch cutthroat.
“We moved to a different spot a bit upstream to try our luck. Kennon hooked a big, heavy, brightly colored rainbow. This thing was huge. Lori stayed with Kennon to coach her on how to land the big trout. She asked me to net the monster. I agreed.
“I picked up the big boat net we use on Dry Run Creek and stepped into the water. Despite wearing studded felt-soled wading boots, my foot slipped and I fell backwards into the water. I was not overly concerned. In fact, I found the cool water refreshing. I quickly remembered that I had a job to do. There was still a big fish on the line. Of course, I was directly in front of Kennon’s grandparents. I am sure that they were impressed. I got on my feet and walked over to the trout and scooped it into my net. We got some good photos and gently revived and released the trout.
“I had been prepared for the situation and there was little damage to me. I was wearing waist-high waders and I had a wading belt tightly fastened around my waist. This prevented much water to get into my waders. My socks were still dry. My slacks were damp but dried quickly. My shirt was soaked. It is a quick-dry long-sleeved tropical shirt and dried before we left the creek. My polarized prescription sunglasses were securely fastened to me by a cord. The cigar in my pocket was wrapped in cellophane and was dry enough to smoke. Life is good!
“If you are going to wade, always wear a wading belt and clothing that dries quickly. Don’t forget to attach those sunglasses to you with a cord (I have bought that lesson several times). It can make a difference.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 7-1-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. With the warm temperatures, the bite is better. 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.