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(updated 8-11-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said The White River water clarity flowing from Bull Shoals Lake past Cotter on its way south toward the Mississippi River is exceptional. The clear, cold water released through Bull Shoals Dam keeps the river habitat perfect for the trout provided by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission trout program all year long. We are continuing to see a fair amount of fluctuation in releases from the dam as it completes its work supplying electrical power and continuing to lower the lake to the desired power pool. Bull Shoals Lake is currently just five feet above the power pool, sitting at 666.30.
One way we’ve lured those trout away from their perfect habitat this week was with the peach-and-brown or olive, moss green jigs (1/8 ounce) played over the shoals. They provided a rapid and steady interest from the rainbows. The sculpin made a comeback when the water dropped and uncovered so many. It’s good to see the prevailing food source, especially since the brown trout and larger rainbows love to make a meal of sculpins. As we mentioned last week, the grasshopper is back for the season. A hopper fly for late afternoons on these hot, dry summer days should provide action to last until dark.
(updated 8-11-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Monday that during the past week, we have had a minor rain event (just a bit over a quarter inch here in Cotter), brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell one and one tenth feet to rest at five and nine tenths feet above power pool of 661 feet. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell six-tenths of a foot. We have had a few hours of wadable water on the White and a little more than that on the Norfork Tailwater. On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals during the mornings’ low flows. The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a cerise San Juan worm with a ruby midge.
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.
(updated 8-11-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said even with the rain, river conditions have been good. We continue to see water levels crest between 9 and 10 feet in the mornings and drop throughout the day to as low as 5 feet by the evening. The dropping water levels have made for some great fishing this week. Guides are reporting catching up to 70 to 90 fish during a full day guide trip. Silver in-line spinners with Berkley Power Eggs and topped with shrimp continue to be the bait of choice for the rainbow trout. Fishing with sculpins has produced a few nice rainbows and brown trout. When the water gets lower later in the day, ¼-oz. copper and gold Colorado spoons or Rapala Countdowns on the gravel bars have been productive.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 666.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam at 9 a.m. Thursday was 8,285 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 913.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 1,840 cfs.
(updated 8-11-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said on Tuesday the water temperature is 87 degrees, give or take. Typical summer patterns are working. There are always shallow fish, especially with the recent rains. Target channel swings and ledges close to deep water. Use a topwater Lucky Craft Gunfish in the early morning. When topwater slows, a ½-oz. flutter spoon in a shad pattern or a small swimbait would be best. Then, move to a mooneye Tater Shad, drop-shot rig or Jewel spoon to target schooling fish. A lot of fish have moved deep with the warm temperature. Brush piles also are coming into play with lower water levels. If you are a power fisherman, get in the backs of feeder creeks that have shad. The creek fish have pulled back with the water coming down. Topwater will slow when the sun starts getting high. Move out and switch to a Jewel Special Ops Football Jig in green pumpkin/orange or a green pumpkin Ned rig. Fishing around channel swings, standing timber ledges and lay downs with beavers and Zoom Ol’ Monster worms in green pumpkin/red, red shad and plum are all working.
Del regularly posts new YouTube videos. Visit his YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 558.69 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.25 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Total outflow from Norfork Dam at 9 a.m. Thursday was 205 cfs, but got up to 6,233 cfs on Wednesday.
(updated 8-11-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 558.91 feet msl and has dropped 2 inches in the last 24 hours with generation a little less than half the time. The surface water temperature is 88 degrees and the water is clear down to about 20 feet. The creeks are stained. Many fish are still in the 27- to 35-foot range, just off the bottom around main lake points and hitting spoons. Smaller bass and bream are shallower in the 20-foot range in the warm water. Largemouth bass are coming to the shore to feed on crayfish at dark. Other fish are in open water, chasing shad over 30 feet of water. The larger stripers and walleye are in deep water on the river channel, which is normal for this time of year. The best bite is from 6-8 a.m. and then again starting at dark. That is expanded a bit in cloudy weather. Some crappie are starting to show up on brush piles on Bobby Garland Baby Shad and live minnows as the brush piles come into play with the dropping water. Look for brush that is about 40 feet deep at the bottom and 25 feet deep at the top. Catfishing is still fair on jugs and trotlines baited with small bluegill at night, but the approaching full moon and dropping water is not helping things. Norfork has dropped 14 feet since its high of 573 on June 6, but is still about 7 feet high from a normal mid-August. The lake is in excellent condition for boating, swimming and fishing. Parking and day use areas are all back in service as are most campgrounds.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog.
(updated 8-11-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake has been more wadable in the morning. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Grasshoppers have produced fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 8-11-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are up. With hot temperatures, the smallmouths are less active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown 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.
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 1,121.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 1,121.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 1,130.0 feet msl). The Corps released about 3,800 cfs between 10 a.m. and 10 p.m. on Wednesday.
(updated 8-11-2022) Jon Conklin with FishOn Guide Service (479-233-3474) said Beaver lake is close to normal levels. The surface temperature measured in the 80s. There have been some nice stripers being caught. Look from Rocky Branch down to the dam. Trolling shad, brooder minnows and bream has worked. Look for bait schools and fish should be in the area. Walleye have been picked up using crawler harnesses trolled on flats and points in and around 25 to 30 feet of water. Crappie are still suspended near the thermocline. Trolling cranks, such as Bandits and Arkie cranks, will work. We have been doing well on anything with pink in it. This bite will continue until water drops into the lower 70s. Catfish are good and will continue to get better into September. Bream are good as well. Check out Jon’s Facebook page for latest updates, FishOn Guide Service Goshen AR.
(updated 8-4-2022) Southtown Sporting Goods (479-443-7148) said fishing on Beaver is pretty good. The best fishing now is mainly night fishing. Black bass are fair on a hodgepodge of baits, including spinnerbaits and plastic worms. Crappie are fair trolling on minnows and shad. Stripers are being caught in fair amounts in the deep water on the lower end of the lake. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Catfish also are good. Walleye are fair in deep water on jigs, spoons and bottom bouncers. The lake is clear and at a normal level. No surface temperature was reported.
(updated 8-11-2022) Guide Austin Kennedy (479-244-0039) said this week has been good on the tailwater and nothing drastically has changed since the last report. The Army Corps of Engineers have been generating pretty much starting at 10 a.m., but that has not stopped the bite. In fact, it increases the bite in most cases. Most fish were caught using light terminal tackle and Pautzke Fire Bait. When the sun moved higher in the sky, we would switch it over to ¼-oz. spoons coated with Pautzke Fire Gel. Try letting the spoon sink a bit before retrieving due to the water still being a little deep. The water levels are still low and continue to fall. This week’s hot spot for trout has been above Spider Creek. Try hitting the deeper holes and looking for slack water during generation. White bass and walleye are still up toward Holiday Island, but you need to look for them. Jigging live minnows off points and humps has done the trick. Follow Austin’s Facebook page (Busch Mountain Fishing Guide Service) for daily updates.
(updated 8-11-2022) Lake Fayetteville Boat Dock (479-444-3476) said Tuesday that the lake continues to have a stained clarity and is at normal level. Bream are “on fire” using redworms and are bedded up. Crappie are good on jigs. Black bass are fair on topwaters. Catfish are also good.
(updated 8-11-2022) Shelly Jeffrey at Lake Charles State Park (870-878-6595) said black bass are fair on crankbaits, worms and topwaters. Bream are also fair on worms, crickets and jigs. There is no report on crappie and catfish. Monday afternoon’s water temperature was 80 degrees. The water level is high and the clarity is the usual murky.
(updated 8-11-2022) Seth Boone, the superintendent at Lake Poinsett State Park, reported that bream have been biting well on crickets and worms. Catfish are biting on nightcrawlers and other smelly things. Bass are biting on spinnerbaits, but are still catch and release. Crappie are catch and release as well.
(updated 8-11-2022) Boxhound Marina (870-670-4496) had no report.
(updated 7-28-2022) Mark Crawford with springriverfliesandguides.com (870-955-8300) said the river has been flowing at 350 cfs and water clarity has been clear. Fish early for trout before it gets too hot. The river is nice and cold all day, but with this heat, the trout still will find the deeper holes. Lots of bugs are hatching early in the morning and late in the evening. On sunny days, nymphing has been hot with bead-headed pheasant tails, copper Johns or prince nymphs. On cloudy days, which have been few, you might get some streamer action. “Olive, brown or black woollies have been my go-to on cloudy days. Those are the days to get the brown trout moving.”
The smallmouth bass have been hitting well in the hotter weather. “The areas we have been chasing smallies has deeper water, and some Woollies tied on jigheads have been hot in black, olive and brown. Weight-forward line with a long leader works great. A sink tip would work, too, but it’s a lot more work to use a sink tip. Rain over the weekend may change conditions. Stay tuned to springriverfliesandguides.com and look at our blog page (springriverfliesandguides.com/blog).
(updated 8-11-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the water level on the Spring River is fishable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and North Fork rivers. Canoe season is in full swing and the boats and rafts are here. Wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive woolly buggers with a bit of flash, cerise and hot pink San Juan worms and Y2Ks.
The Army Corps of Engineers reported Thursday that the White River stage at Batesville was steady at 8.58 feet, more than 6 feet below the flood stage of 15.0 feet. The Newport stage was steady at 13.92 feet (flood stage was 26.00 feet). The stage at Augusta is falling slightly at 24.60 feet, which is slightly below the flood stage of 26.00 feet.
(updated 8-11-2022) Triangle Sports (870-793-7122) in Batesville had no recent fishing reports.