The Cotter Trout Dock 
Weekly Fishing Report

November 4, 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 658.20 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 11-4-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said on the White, we had high levels of generation over the weekend and much lower water generation early this week with some wadable water. 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. Fishing has improved with the lower water. 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 a black midge suspended below it).

Lake Norfork

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.68 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 556.75 msl).

(Updated 11-4-2015) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said winter angling on Norfork Lake can be one of the most productive periods of striper fishing. From mid-December through February the stripers will stick close to the old river channels near the shad schools. The old river channels are the outlines of the Norfork Fork River and major creeks such as Big Creek and Bennett's Bayou before they were flooded and covered by the lake. Once the lake water gets colder, the shad will move into deeper water to find their comfort zone. Sometimes that is depths of 40 feet, other times I have seen shad hover at 80 feet. The stripers will stay with the shad schools the whole winter period. The two most productive methods to catch stripers are live bait and spoons. Small jigging spoons, either ½ or ¾ ounce, are the artificial bait of choice, although some specific swim baits can be productive also. Shiner minnows and threadfin shad are the preferred live bait. Shiners approved for use by Arkansas Game and Fish in Norfork Lake are available at most better Norfork Lake bait and tackle shops. Shad are not sold commercially. Shad used as bait in Norfork Lake must be caught in Norfork Lake by net. Wild bait from any other body of water is strictly prohibited by law. This is to prevent the introduction of foreign or invasive species of plants, animals, and water life into Norfork Lake. Good electronics will help you find the shad and stripers and keep you on them. Begin by looking at the old river channel between the U.S. Highway 62 Bridge and the Arkansas Highway 101 Bridge and move toward Howard’s Cove. Somewhere in this area you will find the shad and stripers. Float creek is one other area that will typically hold stripers. I run six downlines, each with 2-oz. weights and 5-foot leaders. I will run two additional lines with floats on the outside of the spread. These lines are set above the shad school. Stripers will come up through the shad column to take your bait. Always keep your live bait above the shad school. Threadfin shad are and will always be the most productive method to catch winter stripers. When fishing a spoon, match the size and color of your spoon to that of the bait fish. If the stripers are feeding on 1- and 2-inch shad, make sure your lure matches the size of the shad. Jig your spoon through the shad schools for the best success. Always be ready for that top water bite to erupt, too. Have a Super Spook Jr. tied on and at the ready for when this happens.

(Updated 11-4-2015) Lou Gabric of Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the lake has stabilized and the surface water temperature is 66 to 68 degrees. The stripers, hybrids and white bass are schooling and following the baitfish. Go into the wind blown creeks and coves, especially if the wind has been blowing into the area for several days. Anglers have had good success for stripers, hybrids and white bass with the best bite at midday. The fish were halfway back in the creeks earlier in the week, but are moving to the mouths of creeks and deeper water. Vertically jigging a ¾-oz. spoon has been working well. Bass fishing has been good halfway back into creeks and coves, vertically jigging a spoon in 25-35 feet of water. Move slowly, keeping the spoon as vertical to the bottom as possible. A Jig and pig fished in 15-35 feet of water. The crappie have been hard to locate. Anglers have caught a few nice crappie in 50 feet of water hanging on the edges of shad schools near stripers. Some have been found on brush piles in 20 to 35 feet of water as well, but it’s been hit or miss. Bream fishing is very good on crickets fished around brush in 20 to 30 feet of water. Catfish are biting well on trotlines and jugs using live bluegills as bait. Coves and creeks are a great place to set up. I have also picked up the occasional catfish while vertical jigging with a spoon.

(Updated 11-4-2015) Guide Steve Olomon had no report.

North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(Updated 11-4-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said there was no wadable water with generation around the clock. The Norfork has fished much better of late now that the lake level has dropped enough to prevent the leakage around the flood gate that was being repaired. The 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. The construction project at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery is complete. Dry Run Creek has seen less pressure with school back in session. 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 11-4-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and stained. 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 11-4-2015) Berry Brothers Guide Service said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and stained. 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