The Cotter Trout Dock 
Weekly Fishing Report

September 23, 2015

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Some photos of our guided trout fishing customers
taken this week at Cotter Trout Dock.

Click images to enlarge.








Fishing Report From Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

Bull Shoals

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 676.70 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).
(Updated 9-15-2015) Bull Shoals Boat Dock said fishing hasn’t changed much yet from the summer patterns, but it is close. The lake is starting to drop faster. It is projected to go 4 inches a day and the back to normal date is Nov. 12. The water temperature is still in the upper 70s on the surface with the thermocline around the 25 foot level or so.
(Updated 9-9-2015) K Dock Marina (417-334-2880) said the lake remains very high with a small amount of water being released through the generators at Bull Shoals Dam. The lake is still about 25 feet above normal, making it difficult to fish normal patterns for walleye and crappie. The bass have been hot and cold the past few weeks, but are starting to feed on shad and crawdads. The lake may be high, but it is extremely clear. The water level should be back to normal by mid-November. The surface water temperature is 85 degrees. Black bass are best on topwater lures early in the mornings and on jigs, green pumpkin soft-plastics and crankbaits fished off points once the sun is up. Walleye are fair on large shiners and crankbaits. Bottom bouncing has been very difficult because of the high water. Spoons are working well on suspended walleye off the sand flats. Crappie are slow to fair. Live minnows fished around trees and brush piles may start working better once the water temperature cools below 80 degrees. Bream are biting well on crickets and pieces of nightcrawler fished under a bobber along rocky bluffs and deep coves.
(Updated 7-29-2015) Ken Minsky of Ken Minksy's Loch Leven Guide Service had no report.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 9-23-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is high and clear with seven generators running. The high flow makes for little wadable water, but fishing from a boat is excellent. Just about anything is working for some rainbow trout. Fish spinners, Power Bait, frozen shrimp, crankbaits and heavy streamers anywhere you can find a current break.
(Updated 9-16-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said last week’s rain added more water to Bull Shoals lake, putting it close to 21 feet above seasonal power pool and 12 feet above flood pool. High levels of generation have allowed no wading access on the White River. Expect high levels of generation in the coming months. On heavy generation, the best way to catch fish is to switch to longer leaders and heavier weight. On the White, the hot spot was the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (size 8-10), Y2Ks (size 14-12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead, size 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 (my current favorite is a hot fluorescent pink or cerise San Juan worm with an orange egg suspended below it). Hoppers are doing well. To fish a hopper properly, use a seven-and-a-half-foot 4X leader and a stiff six weight rod. My favorites are Dave’s hoppers (size 10) and the western pink lady (size 8). To increase hook ups I always use a dropper. I am currently using a ruby or root beer midge in size 18 on a 3-foot or longer tippet (depending on the depth of the water I am fishing).
(Updated 8-26-2015) Jim Brentlinger with Linger's Guide Service said six to eight generators are running most of the time, and the larger brown trout have moved to the bank. Fish deeper banks around cover with Rapalas or Smithwick Rattlin' Rogues for best results. Don't give up as it is a painstaking endeavor, but you will like the results. When the water starts receding and gets noticeably lower switch to the Varimax Blue Fox spinner in a size 2 or 3. 
(Updated 7-29-2015) Paul Bobby at GI on the Fly Guide Service (907-350-6610) had no report.

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 564.34 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(Updated 8-26-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake continues to drop but it’s like watching paint dry, an inch or two a day. The oxygen content for the stripers is at 30 to 35 feet and 70 to 85 feet. The morning bite continues early. Stripers and hybrids are feeding heavy until the sun gets bright then they move into deeper water. The deep bite continues to be around the dam area. Where I have been fishing I can see the dam right in front of me. The stripers are holding from 70 to 85 feet right on the bottom in small groups of 3 or 4 fish. Most of the bites are very light. I have trained my clients to watch the rod tip. If they see it start to bend I have them reel very fast and that has been hooking the stripers. Many people have been missing the fish since you really have to pay attention to your rod.
(Updated 8-26-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been good for the last couple of weeks. The stripers and hybrids are doing what they should be doing this time of year. Big schools of stripers and hybrids can be found right before daybreak in 30 to 50 feet of water. They will be on the bottom or suspended 25 to 40 feet down. Main lake points and secondary points back in the creeks are good places to look, especially where the old river channel swings in close to the shoreline. My guests and I have found stripers in the Robinson area and down towards the dam. Threadfin and gizzard shad for live bait and spoons and swim baits for artificial baits are great choices. Most of the stripers being caught in the shallow water early in the morning are in the 5 to 10 pound range with the bigger hybrids just starting to show up. The bigger stripers are being caught out in deeper water 70 to 80 feet down on the bottom. When the sun gets high in the sky is the best time to find the deep stripers. Look at main lake points for these deep fish. Live bait and spoons are your best choices for deep fish. I expect to see these fish go a little deeper very soon. Walleye, smallmouth, largemouth, spots, catfish and white bass will be found in the same general areas as the stripers. 25 - 35 feet of water is the best place to start. The fish will also be suspended at this same depth following the baitfish into deeper water.
(Updated 7-29-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said the lake level is 571.9 and the water temp is in the upper 80s. The stripers are suspended 40 to 60 feet. Early in the morning, they are close to the bottom down at 40 feet. As the sun gets higher they start moving toward the deeper water. We caught a few small stripers on topwater back in Barren Creek. The bigger fish are in the deeper water within a few miles of the dam. Bass are coming up early and will hit topwater baits like a Spook or a Pop-R. After the topwater bite slows, throw a jig to the edge of the brush or a worm. When you mark fish suspended or close to the bottom, drop a jigging spoon.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 9-16-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake is still well above seasonal power pool. The tailwater had limited wadable water every day. The Norfork has fished better of late now that the lake level has dropped enough to prevent the leakage around the flood gate that was being repaired. It has had the only wadable water and has been crowded at times. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (size 18-22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (size 14-16) like the green butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. 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 size 10). There have been reliable hatches of small midges (try a size 24 Adams parachute) and caddis (try a size 18 elk hair caddis). The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday. My favorite combination has been a grasshopper with a root beer or ruby midge dropper.  There is a major construction project at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. You can still access Dry Run Creek, which has fished well. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10).

Buffalo River

(Updated 9-16-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River is navigable. With the warm weather, the smallmouths are active. Try inline spinners, Rebel crawdad crankbaits, 4-inch finesse worms and tubes for good spin-fishing action. For fly-fishing, it’s tough to beat a Clouser minnow or crayfish pattern. 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.

Crooked Creek

(Updated 9-16-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said Crooked Creek is navigable. With the warm weather, the smallmouths are active. Try inline spinners, Rebel crawdad crankbaits, 4-inch finesse worms and tubes for good spin-fishing action. For fly-fishing, it’s tough to beat a Clouser minnow or crayfish pattern. 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.


Cotter Trout Dock, 321 Big Spring Pkwy POB 96, Cotter, AR  72626