Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 7, 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 8, 2021.

White River
(updated 7-8-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “The heat is on and people ask, "Is the fishing OK on the river in July?" The answer: "Yes, and yes!" The Cotter area get fresh flows of water from the bottom of Bull Shoals Lake to ensure the river is trout-loving cold; the fish are as frisky as in February.
“To attract the trout, tie on a gray/white Marabou Jig – 1/8 ounce is best – and jiggle it just above the bottom. Scented baits (garlic "flavored" PowerBait works fine) will increase your skill at reeling in those healthy, growing rainbows we’ve been blessed with. We’re seeing spectacular action between the U.S. Highway 62 bridge and just below Wildcat Shoals in the Cotter area.
“You can experiment with shrimp or with various colors of floating eggs and you'll bag a bunch, but the action will be faster when you use them together.
“One of the best baits for a lazy drift down the river is the Berkley Pink Worm with or without the mouse tail. Tie on a red wiggler and catch a limit of pan-sized rainbows for supper.
“Drink plenty of water while you're out there, keep the sunscreen applied to your skin but away from your trout bait and fishing gear, and keep enjoying the great outdoors in the Arkansas Ozarks.”

(updated 7-8-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said Wednesday that fishing overall is still slow compared to last year at this time. The clarity is improving but the river level overall has been high with six to eight generators running “pretty much round-the-clock” at the dam, they report. This week’s bite grade is fair. Try pink PowerBait, Little Silver Cleo’s, Rooster Tails in light green or brown, worms and shrimp for best results.
Many customers of Sportsman’s probably know Pete Cobb, affectionately known there as the “guide to the stars” who has been working on the river for 40-plus years. Sadly, Sportsman’s informs us, Pete passed away on July 6. Our condolences to Pete’s family and his Sportsman’s family and friends he’s made over the years guiding on the river.

(updated 7-8-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had two rain events totaling a half-inch in Cotter, warm temperatures and occasional moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 foot to land at 25.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 661.27 feet msl. This is 8.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.3 feet to rest at 2.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 11.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 5.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 2.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 15.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556 feet msl and 8.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfolk 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 has slowed. The top spot has been Bull Shoals State Park. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8 and 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14 and 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16 and 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 says his current favorite combination is a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper).
John also talked this week about watching the quickly changing weather on the water, “While I get a few last-minute guide trips, most of my trips are planned well in advance, sometimes months before. When they are booked, I am often asked what the fishing conditions will be. In general, I have no idea. The water conditions change daily and I don’t get the prediction until the night before.
“Weather is even more unpredictable. I have fished in temperatures below 10 degrees and over 100. I have worked in rain, sleet, snow and ice storms.
“The one exception is lightning. It is just too much of a risk to fish during a lightning storm. I have been told that NASA uses graphite (the material that most fly rods are made from) for lightning rods. The idea of waving a lightning rod over my head, during a lightning storm, is frightening at best. Therefore, I head for shelter when the lightning begins. I don’t mind being uncomfortable during inclement weather, but the concept of being fried does not appeal to me.
“I had a guide trip last week that had been on the books for a couple of weeks. As the day approached, I was constantly checking the conditions. Our once low water was replaced with much higher water. More foreboding was the weather forecast. It called for thunderstorms and heavy rain.
“My clients were not overly concerned. They showed up with positive attitudes and good raingear. I put on my rainsuit, rigged up the fly rods and launched my boat. Just before I launched, it began raining hard. There were a few other guides at the ramp and we were all concerned about the weather.
“I motored downstream to my favorite spot on this level of generation. I made a couple of drifts and picked up a fat 17-inch rainbow. Despite the weather, things looked good. About that time I heard the crack of thunder. I looked up and saw a bolt of lightning. It looked close. I told my clients that it was time to go. They heartily agreed. They cranked in their lines and laid their rods down in the boat’s bait tray. I started my motor and headed for the ramp.
“The trip was rough, with the windblown rain stinging my face and lightning popping around us. I pulled up to the ramp and sent my clients to the Rim Shoals pavilion to shelter from the storm. I secured my boat to keep it from drifting away during the storm and then joined them.
“It was nice to be out of the weather. There were three other guides there with their clients. We were all seeking shelter and waiting out the storm. Unfortunately there was no letup. The lightning kept flashing around us for several hours. One by one the clients decided that it just wasn’t worth it and canceled their trip. My guys held out for a long time but finally gave it up. Lightning is nothing to fool with.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 686.50 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 919.06 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 7-8-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported Wednesday that limited parking and boat ramp access remains an issue there. Plan ahead, especially on weekends. Despite the flooding water, lake clarity is still good. There are still some fish up shallow. Get up early and look shallow on the flats in the creeks for schoolers. Fish with topwater baits, poppers, Lucky Craft Gunfish and the like. Once the sun pops up, fish a Beaver or a big worm in the laydowns. On windy and cloudy days, use a Whopper Plopper, a buzzbait or a Horny Toad. If it’s clear and flat, use blue birds and target smallmouth bass or spotted bass on long points and bluff ledges. Get vertical and drop-shot in 24-32 feet off the bluffs and on long points, or use the old Neg rig and target points, humps and islands in 15-20 feet depth. Keep the boat off the old shoreline, and FISH THE CONDITIONS.
Surface temperature is 80 degrees. The lake is 27 feet above normal conservation pool. Clarity is good. Check out Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 570.83 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 7-8-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 7-8-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 15.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 556 feet msl and 8.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfolk 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 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 and 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14 and 16) like the Green Butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective. John says his 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.
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 7-8-2021) 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.