The Cotter Trout Dock 
Weekly Fishing Report

September 30, 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 673.17 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).(Updated 9-30-2015) K Dock Marina (417-334-2880) said the lake is starting to drop around 4 inches per day. This will increase when work begins to repair Power Site Dam in early October. Surface temperatures are near 80 degrees. The water is still clear and high. Fishing has been getting better and should be excellent as the water continues to cool. Bass are biting well on spinnerbaits, crankbaits and football jigs on steep points. Buzzbaits and Spooks are working well in the early morning and evenings as well. Bass have been busting massive schools of shad, so keep a topwater ready for surface action. Walleye are fair to good on trolled blue/chrome crankbaits near the river channel. Bottom-bouncing nightcrawlers also is working well. Crappie are fair to slow. They are scattered and deep still.
(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.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 9-30-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is clear and six to eight generators are running. Many rainbow trout are being caught on drift rigs and small spoons. Brown trout fishing has been a bit slower this week. 
(Updated 9-30-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the White River saw high levels of generation with no wadable water. 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 Wildcat Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (size 8-10), Y2Ks (size 12-14), 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).
Jim Brentlinger with Linger's Guide Service had no new report.
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 562.32 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).
(Updated 9-30-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said stripers are still at the Norfork Lake dam in water depths ranging from 35 out to 190 feet. Early in the morning, before light, you can find them in 35 to 40 feet of water. As light begins to appear, they start moving deeper. Once the sun is up, they are roaming the waters along the dam. I have found them in Dam Cove, Long Point and the channel runs to the deeper water. You will find lots of fish, but few will bite. If you do not get them early you will have a long day. We are catching 1 to 3 stripers after light. This will change once the weather stays cooler. By week’s end the weather is expected to turn a lot colder with some rain that will change the pattern very quickly. Stripers are now feeding heavily in the evening near Calamity Beach. I have reports they are surfacing an hour before dark and are being caught on topwater lures and spoons. This tells me the lake has turned over up in the north end and the fish can be caught during the daylight hours.
(Updated 9-30-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the lake level is falling 2 to 4 inches per day. The surface water temperature has fallen to 78 degrees as of this morning. The main lake is fairly clear, with the creeks and coves being stained. Most species of fish are in 20 to 35 feet of water, but you can find the bigger stripers 90 feet down on the bottom. As usual, the deep fish are very lethargic and hard to catch. I have had the best luck finding stripers early in the morning, still dark, at depths of 25 to 35 feet. As the sun comes up the stripers disappear to the depths of the lake. Live bait is working the best, but I have jigged up a few of these fish over the last couple of weeks. The best area to find stripers is within a mile of the dam. Hybrids are scattered throughout the lake. I haven't found any huge schools lately, but both in the mornings and evenings I have found nice sized fish off of main lake points. Last week I was looking for whites in the Cranfield area and ran into some nice hybrids in the 7-pound range. White bass fishing has been good over the last couple of weeks. The best bite appears to be from mid-afternoon until the sun sets. There has been the nice top water when an acre of water just starts to boil and it has lasted up to an hour. Kastmasters and Zara Spooks have worked well. I have found topwater fish in Pigeon, Briar, Cranfield and in the Robinson area. Walleye fishing continues to be pretty good. I have been dragging a crawler harness in 23 to 35 feet of water. Concentrate on large flats as well as main lake points. Most of the fish are smaller than 18 inches, but with the numbers we are catching, I expect Norfork to be a go-to destination for walleye in the next year or two. Bass fishing is starting to get a little better. I have found nice schooling fish back in the major creeks off secondary points. Over the last couple of days I have started to mark a lot of bass suspended 10 to 20 feet down off of deep bluff lines. This morning I landed 12 bass between spots, largemouth and smallmouth off of a deep bluff line in 32 to 35 feet of water. Jigs and spoons will work, but crankbaits should start heating up soon. The big bluegills are also in the 25-foot range. I have caught many of the big thumpers while dragging my crawler harness, and they are very aggressive. Crappie are starting to move back to the brush, but the water temperature needs to cool a little more to make it a good bite. Jay Smith (Crappies Only Guide Service) took a couple of his relatives out a few weeks ago and they had a blast. They found the fish over 25 to 35 feet deep brush with the fish were suspended 20 feet down. Live minnows worked the best.
(Updated 9-30-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said the water level has been dropping steadily, but the lake is still about 8 feet higher than normal for this time of year. Surface water temperatures are in the upper 70s. Stripers are still 40 to 60 feet deep. Look in the bays and along the points within a few miles of the dam. With the days getting shorter and the weather cooling, stripers will start moving up shallow and spreading out in the lake. There are some bass chasing baitfish to the surface early in the mornings and just before dark. Look for some whites feeding on the surface, too. The night bite should get going in a few weeks.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 9-30-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Norfork has fished better 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 beadheaded 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. Youths can still Dry Run Creek for some excellent fishing. It has seen more pressure with school out. It still 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 9-30-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River are navigable. Smallmouths are fairly 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 9-30-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said Crooked Creek is navigable. Smallmouths are fairly 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