Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 14, 2016

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report September 14, 2016.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 660.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 8-31-2016) K Dock Marina reported that lake conditions have really changed in the last recently. Rain and cool nights have dropped the surface temps down about 10 degrees from last two Saturdays ago. Water is also stained, making it great for bass fishing. The walleye and crappie bite should get better now that we are reading water temps in the low 80s instead of the middle 90s. Been seeing a lot of large catfish being caught on a variety of methods. Both channel and flathead cats are starting to feed. Most recent water surface temperature was 82 degrees. Black bass are good topwater, including Zara Spooks, Ploppers and buzzbaits. Also good on large plastic worms and jigs in 18-25 feet off of points and steep bluffs. Also good on large crankbaits in the same range. Walleye are fair to slow on bottom-bouncing nightcrawlers in 30-plus feet of water. Crappie are slow on live minnows in brush piles. They are suspended in 20 feet. (Crappie should start to come up better with the surface temp cooling down.)
(updated 8-31-2016) Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported water temp has come down quite bit. Cold nights have come through, some big changes on the lake. The 92-, 94 is down to 84 for the high. Over the apex. Rain coming in, water coming in back of creeks, big fish are beginning to move around a little bit. Guys are catch8ing walleye trolling right now, using deeper crankbaits. They’re trolling the flats up around Oakland, some of the main lake points. Those walleye are suspended about 25-30 feet and the baits in that general area too. We;’ve got a thermos, about 30 foot. You don’t have to fish deeper than 30 feet to get some action, For bass, the ledges are still holding a lot of fish. The Whopper Plopper is working. Fish the conditions. If you have wind and cloudy conditions, start fishing the PowerBaits. You can flip a jig up around the ledge rock. The fish are starting to come up into the bushe, try a Right Bite ½-ounce jig there. There is a ton of shad back in the creeks. There aren’t a lot of bass there yet, but it’s just a matter of time before the bass move back in there. If it’s sunny and calm, a drop-shot will work well. Pulled a lot of fish on the drop-shot the other day. Robo worm with a 12-14-inch leader so they’re being caught off the bottom. Most of the presentation is vertical over the trees, channel swings. A lot of times you’ll three or four fish from the same school. Topwater has been on and off. If it’s sunny out and not a lot of wind, they’re hitting the Lucky Craft Sammie and the old Biffle Bug, and the Green Pumpkin Red and Green Pumpkin Orange. Lot of fish are suspended at about 20 feet and jerkbaits are working. Early in the morning they will be a little bit shallower. Fish the conditions.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 9-14-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported fair water, with normal to low level in the evening. Trout bite is good on PowerBait, particularly pink-colored. Grasshoppers are also working, as well as Rooster Tails. Brown bass are very active.
(updated 9-14-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said the rainbow catch has been plentiful, good size and color, great for a shore lunch or for returning to the river for another day, and the weather is magnificent. They’ve had nippy mornings and warm afternoons. A day on the river right now is a glimpse of heaven, Gamble says. The browns have been a little smarter – they know where to hide in the low water, but a good guide is useful in finding them, understanding their behavior and feeding patterns, and helping you bring a brown to the boat. They also continue to see keeper-sized cutthroats and have awarded numerous catch-and-release pins this season for trophy cutthroats. Bronze/copper spoons are flying off the shelves; the gold Blue Foxes are showing some success. Orange and chartreuse PowerBait, as well as the always-favorite florescent yellow, are a must in your tackle box.
(updated 9-14-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that last week they had no rain event, moderate temperatures and moderate winds at Cotter. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 feet to rest at seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is 34 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 feet to rest at 5.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 19.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 4.9 feet below seasonal power pool and 13.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had heavy generation in the afternoon last week with wadable water every morning. The bite has been excellent. With reliable wadable water, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 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 size 14 hare and copper nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). The best bet for large trout has been to bang the bank with large articulated streamers delivered with heavy 24-30-foot sink tips (350 grains or heavier) on bigger water. You will need an 8- or 9-weight rod. This is heavy work but the rewards can be great.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.72 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 9-14-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the lake is in the final stages of the late summer fishing pattern. Water depth is falling very slowly and currently sits at 553.74 feet msl. Periodic power generation is occurring daily. The main lake is clear and the creeks and coves are still stained. As the lake water cools and the oxygen returns to all depths, the fish will scatter to all parts and depths of the lake. The surface water temperature is slowly falling each day, was in the low 80s one morning this week, and it’s expected we’ll see the upper 70s very soon. Lou said there has been little change with fishing since his last report. Striped bass fishing is still the best in the dam area. The early morning and late afternoon bites are the best, and the fish continue to be caught in 25-35 feet of water whether on the bottom or suspended in deeper water. Lou said he is starting to find a few stripers heading upriver and also back in the mid-lake creeks, but no big schools at this time. It will not be long, though. Live shad, either threadfin or gizzards, are working the best, but vertical jigging spoons and casting blade baits worked on the bottom are also picking up some nice fish. The biggest fishing change has been with largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass. Lou has located some nice topwater action at sunrise, but it only lasts 30-60 minutes. It's plenty of time to have some fun with a Zara Spook. Lou says the best place he’s found has been back in a creek that has the old river channel swing in close to shore. The fish are hitting a little bit of everything when they are active. He has been using a fluke, Rat-L-Trap, Kastmaster and a Zara Spook, and all of these baits have landed some nice fish. Most of the big spotted bass have hit live bait set at 24 feet. Large flats are another good area to fish. Look in the 25-35 feet depths and you will find scattered schools of white bass, largemouth bass, crappie, catfish and walleye. Lou has been vertical jigging a spoon on the flats and once he finds the bait, he said he finds the fish right in the same spot.
(updated 9-14-2016) Guide Steve Olomon of Steve’s Guide Service said the Norfork Lake level is 554 and the water temperature is in the low 80s. Look for the stripers early in the morning suspended 30 feet off points and in coves. They can be on the bottom or out in deeper water as the sun gets higher and will move deeper from 30 to 50 feet. Steve said he found some stripers and hybrids in Koso Bay this week and there were a few coming up chasing shad bait fish, but was over in about five minutes. There were stripers down under the topwater fish and the only thing I could get them to hit was an in-line spinner. They would not hit a spoon. Look for the stripers within a few miles of the dam. When the water temperature starts cooling down they will move up in the creeks and back up in the lake. There will be stripers still down around the dam area. The bass are coming up hitting topwater baits early (Zara Spooks). Steve found some in a creek along a deep channel swing. Marked some suspended fish (at 30 feet) in 90 feet of water and dropped a jigging spoon and caught some nice Kentucky bass. Also caught some on jigs in 15-25 feet of depth on some flats.
(updated 9-7-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake stripers are being inconsistent. One day it’s fast and furious, then the next day it’s very slow. The weather last week as was up and down; we started off hot and then it turned cold. The water temperature dropped 8 degrees with a north wind, and now this week it will be hot with a south wind. Fishing should get back to a heavy bite early in the morning and in the late afternoon. The fish are still in 32-35 feet of water early, then move out to deeper water feeding on shad. I have found them in 40-80 feet of water after 8 a.m. If you hit a school of stripers, they will hit every line. The fish can be found near the dam. Start looking at all the points within a mile of the dam and you will find them feeding before light. Walleyes are being caught on points and flats using bottom bouncers and spoons in 28-35 feet of water. The best live bait this past week for stripers has been gizzard shad.
Tom related that he took Kevin and Will out for their first time using live bait. Last year they tried using spoons with little success, so they wanted to see how a live bait guide uses shad. They started off where Tom had been catching fish every day, but the fish had moved since the cold wind and lake temperature dropped. Tom’s son, Sean, was fishing near the dam and was marking fish and caught one, so the group headed his way. It sure helps to have another person fishing the same way you do, Tom said, and it helps finding and staying on fish when they move around. The group arrived at Sean’s location and immediately hooked up. Tom start off with 41 gizzard shad to catch a limit of stripers. On this day, the group went through 39 shad to catch six stripers. The bite was so fast that they could not keep up with the hits. Both Kevin and Will were getting bites but just could not hook the fish. Sean only used eight baits to catch six stripers – some days it works out that way. They finally caught their limit by 7:15 a.m. Both guys were very happy using live bait. The fall bite will continue this way into November.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 9-14-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 1.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet and 25.8 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had reliable wadable water every morning, with light generation in the afternoon.
Norfork has fished better on the lower water and has not been as crowded with wadable water on the White. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 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. Dry Run Creek has been less crowded with school back in session. It has fished a bit better and is yielding some trophy trout. 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).
John also related, “Somehow I got Labor Day off. My assistant manager at Blue Ribbon Fly Shop, Henry Seay, was scheduled to work and I had an opportunity to fish on a holiday. Generally we get a major influx of tourists over a three-day weekend and a lot of them want to go trout fishing. As a result, our trout streams can get rather crowded, on these holidays. My wife, Lori, and I were more interested in a bit of secluded water, for our fly fishing outing. The secret was a bit of patience. We just waited for everyone to leave. After a nice lunch, we drove over to the Ackerman Access on the Norfork tailwater. At first, the parking lot looked crowded but we soon noticed that everyone was packing up to leave. Lori and I talked to several of the anglers as they were leaving, to be sociable and to get an up to date fishing report. By the time we had our waders on and rods rigged, the parking lot was almost empty. I headed upstream, while Lori fished close to the access, with a promise to join me upstream later. As I waded into the Catch and Release section, I noted that I pretty much had it to myself. There was a single angler far upstream. He was fishing one of my favorite spots but I had plenty of water to fish and I knew that he would eventually leave. I began the day fishing a Green Butt, my signature fly. It was still on my rod from the last time I fished this rod, a Sage ZXL 9-foot 5-weight with an Orvis CFO reel and a Rio Gold fly line. It is one sweet casting rig and I fish it often. I took a nice 14-inch rainbow on the third cast but the action abated quickly. I switched to a partridge and orange soft hackle and caught a couple more trout, but the going was slow. I looked upstream and noted the other angler walking out of my favorite spot. I walked up and chatted to him as he was coming out. He said that he had caught a nice brown in the run. Even though he had hammered it for over an hour, I thought that I had a shot. I took a minute or two to re-rig. I stripped off the partridge and orange and put on a red fox squirrel nymph with a copper bead and copper wire. Below that I tied on a ruby midge. I then added some lead and a strike indicator. Almost immediately, I caught two 10-inch brookies back to back. I kept fishing the run and landed a 15-inch rainbow. I just knew that a bigger trout was lurking there. I kept casting into the run and finally hooked a big fish. It jumped and I got a good look at the 22-inch brown. Unfortunately it was able to spit the hook when it got a bit of slack in the line on the jump. I continued fishing and landed a few more trout. The big fish was an 18-inch cutthroat. I just needed the brown for a grand slam. It was not to be. After a while, I cranked in my line and headed downstream to find Lori. She was fishing a nearby run and doing well. She was using a partridge and orange soft hackle and catching some nice trout. I sat down nearby and watched her fish until she was ready to go. We reveled in the solitude and the fishing. Around 4p.m. we walked out hand-in-hand and headed home. Fishing on Labor Day had been great!”

Buffalo National River

(updated 9-14-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Buffalo is navigable. The smallmouths are still active. His favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering the Buffalo River. There are no dams, it has large drainages and is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.

Crooked Creek

(updated 9-14-2016) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Crooked Creek is navigable. The smallmouths are still active. John’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek. There are no dams, it has large drainages and is prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.