The Cotter Trout Dock 
Weekly Fishing Report

October 28, 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 659.09 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659 msl).(Updated 10-14-2015) K Dock Marina (417-334-2880) said the lake is about 7 feet away from being back to normal. We are looking forward to getting our launch ramp back for the fall.  Shad have become very concentrated on the flats. Many anglers are catching good numbers of white bass near K Dock. Once the lake stops dropping 6 inches per day, the fall bite should be great for all species. The surface water temperature is 70 to 72 degrees, and the water clarity is clear. Black bass are biting well on a variety of baits. Topwater lures are working well in the morning. Spinnerbaits are producing on windy days. Jigs and crankbaits (particularly squarebills) are producing well around points and high rock bluffs, however zebra mussels have moved in at many areas and will tear up your line, so check it often. Many anglers have resorted to fishing with braid to save their line from being cut. Walleye are fair on bottom-bouncing night crawlers.  Trolling crankbaits will improve once the lake stabilizes. Crappie are fair on live minnows. White bass are biting well on lipless crankbaits, Rooster Tails and small spinnerbaits.  Follow the surfacing shad and you’ll find the fish.

(Updated 10-14-2015) Bull Shoals Boat Dock said said surface water temperatures are in the 70s. The Army Corps of Engineers has been steadily running water. If you are fishing by the dam, be sure to fish the long points with gravel and chunk rock for smallmouth. Dragging a tube or shaky head, with a Zoom trick worm or UV worm in brown, watermelon or green pumpkin 20 to 27 feet deep. Fishing has been better up the lake and in the bigger creek arms. Fall is here and the shad are starting to migrate. Keitech swim baits fished super slow are working, as are Rite Bite ½-oz. PB and J jigs with a Net bait Paca Craw or Zoom Fat Albert or Creepy Crawler in green pumpkin will work as well. Look for points back in that flatten out in deeper water 20 to 26 feet deep. Anglers also are catching a few largemouths and spotted bass in the very backs of creeks on War Eagle spinnerbaits on windy days. For the walleye guys, bottom bouncers are starting to work on deep sides of main lake points. Use a 1 ½-oz. bouncer with a worm harness in 24-26 feet of water, and then run 30-32 feet.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(Updated 10-21-2015) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is high with 6 generators running wide open. Trout fishing is excellent for boat anglers, especially those using guides who can concentrate on maneuvering the boat while the anglers fish. Pink trout worms have been the best lure for bait anglers after rainbow trout. Brown trout have been biting well on stick baits, and some large browns are really starting to show up lately.

(Updated 10-28-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam will close Nov. 1, 2015-Jan. 31, 2016, to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The state park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period. On heavy generation, the best way to catch fish is to switch to longer leaders and heavier weight. Fishing has been poor. 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).

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.21 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).

(Updated 10-28-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said stripers are still inconsistent on the main lake. One day you can catch stripers at Robinson Point, Panther Bay and Float Creek, and then you go back the next day and cannot find them. One consistent area is the upper end of Norfork Lake from Calamity Beach just past Ford Creek. A lot of shad have moved to this area and the stripers are feeding on them all day. The lake water is still too warm and the main body of the lake has not turned over. The lake should turn as the weather gets colder. When the lake turns over, you will not see much fish activity in the main channels for about a week. Your best chance to catch bass and striper is to move up into the creeks to shallow water. It is likely that the creeks have already turned over. This is what has happened in the areas near the state line. The lake is now back to its normal level.

(Updated 10-21-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said water level continues to drop 3 to 4 inches per day. The lake level currently sits at 556.72, which is only about 3 feet above normal pool. The surface water temperature is 70 degrees and falling. The main lake is clear with the creeks and coves stained. Norfork Lake's fishing pattern is entering its fall phase. Striped bass are continually moving and not being very consistent in their feeding location. Over the last week I have covered most of the central to northern parts of Norfork Lake from the Robinson area, up to the state line and also back though the Fouts area and all areas in between. The most notable thing is that the bait has moved back into the creeks with very little bait being found in the main lake. I have found scattered stripers back in the creeks feeding on small 2-inch shad. I have also noticed a few scattered fish along the deep bluff lines in the main lake. My guests and I have caught stripers back in the creeks during the early morning hours as well as the afternoon. Both live thread fin shad as well as vertical jigging with a spoon has been working once you find the fish. As the water temperature continues to fall the fish will become more aggressive in their feeding habits and will start to school. Any time now you will find stripers feeding after dark up close to the banks. If you decide to try the night bite get a few suspending jerk baits and cast as close to the shoreline as you can, then retrieve to the boat very slowly. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass are biting fairly well. The bigger bass started to move up into the sunken brush a week or so ago, but have since moved back out. I believe their move to deeper water occurred due to the drop in the lake level. Most of the sunken brush is now exposed or is out of the water. You can still find a few areas with brush in the water, but I can only catch small fish in these areas. One of our guests loves to throw a jig and pig and is doing quite well. You will catch a lot of short fish, but the bigger ones are also in the area. You will be able to find some good bass in and around brush piles in 30 to 35 feet of water. Vertical jigging with a spoon will start to work as the water temperature continues to cool. In general, soft plastics are working the best worked along the bottom starting in 10 - 15 feet of water out to 40 feet of water. The bluegill bite is still very strong. If you want to fill up your freezer with a lot of tasty fillets get some crickets and fish around 20 to 30 foot deep brush piles. I am finding a lot of schooling white bass back in the creeks feeding on the baitfish. Most of the whites are small to medium-sized fish, but are a blast to catch. Spooning has been working very well. Crappie fishing has also been inconsistent. They are still roaming through the deeper water going from brush pile to brush pile. Keep checking out all your brush piles and you will find them.

(Updated 10-14-2015) Guide Steve Olomon said the water temperature is in the low- to mid-70s. The stripers are scattered all over the lake and can be from 30 to 50 feet deep. There are some whites back in the creeks following the baitfish. There are baitfish up in the flooded brush along the banks. Throw spinnerbaits and crankbaits along the outside of the brush. The windblown banks are better. I found a few bass coming up early that would hit a Spook, but the action is short-lived. Throw a jig and drag it along the bottom out to 30 to35 feet of water. We need some cooler weather to get the water temperature down into the 60s and the fish will start feeding better. It will also move the stripers up and the night bite will start again.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 10-28-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Norfork has fished much better now that the lake level has dropped enough to prevent leakage around the flood gate that was being repaired. There has been no wadable water. Boat traffic has been very heavy. 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 cerise worm with a Sunday special dropper. There is a major construction project at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. You can still access Dry Run Creek. 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). Despite the construction you can still visit the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

Buffalo River

(Updated 10-28-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. With the mild weather, the smallmouths are active. 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 10-28-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. With the mild weather, the smallmouths are active. 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