AGFC North Arkansas weekly Fishing Reports
Head up and over for some late summer fishing
Arkansas Wildlife Editor
• White River — Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) reported that Bull Shoals Lake is being held steady at 677 feet msl. “We have seen a significant change in the daily generation this past week. Water levels have been extremely low (minimum flow), providing wonderful wading opportunities, until late in the afternoon when releases climb to 16,000-plus cubic feet per second (about 5 units or more). It takes about two days for the trout to acclimate to the changes in water levels, but if a pattern is established, they will adjust and the bite returns to normal activity.
“They are seeking deeper holes during the morning hours when crawdad tails and shrimp will lure them out for a nibble. Later in the day, as the water rises, bring out the nightcrawlers and watch the rainbows snatch at dinner. We haven't seen as much of a decrease in river traffic after Labor Day as usual, but the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission trout program is keeping up well with demand! Come on over and catch a rainbow.”
Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reports that the river “is empty. Fishing is a slaughter because the fish have nowhere else to go. Since they started minimum flow, we’ve never seen it this low. Boats can’t get up and down the river very well.”
They report the Newport gauge on Tuesday was at 15 feet, but if it hits 12 feet the Corps of Engineers can turn on the water again from the dam. The clarity is “real good.” The dam is moving water at 700 cfs, or “not even a half a generator,” they say.
Nevertheless, trout fishing is excellent, they report.
John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had several rain events that totaled an inch and a half in Cotter, along with hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.7 foot
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Photo courtesy of AGFC FISHING REPORTS (cont.)
to rest at 16.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 17.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 foot to rest at a 1.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.3 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1 foot to rest at 0.2 foot above seasonal power pool and 8.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had no generation most of the day. Norfork Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 8.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 15.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water every day. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system.
Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are still near the top of flood pool.
John says, “The grasshopper 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 says the White has fished well. The lower flows 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 (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 suspended below it).
— Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the bite is changing a little every day.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is pumping water out of Bull Shoals Lake, and this has the fishing moving out on the points. There is also baitfish suspended deep off the points. Del says anglers should target fish at 10-15 feet deep dearly, then switch to 20-28 feet later in the day. If it’s hot, go deep, he says. If it’s cloudy and windy, go shallow. Throw topwater baits in the mornings. Berkley Wake Bait, poppers, a Whopper Plopper, buzzbait or chatterbaits are best for power fishing 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 halfounce 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 remains dingy to clear depending on location, 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.
— John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 8.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 15.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water every day. Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are still near the top of flood pool.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during from flooding over the last 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 school starting, expect less pressure during the week. On weekends, 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.
Remember that the White and North Fork 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.
— 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.