Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 21, 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 21, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 659.04 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 9-21-2016) K Dock Marina reported lake level has dropped enough to get the lower road above water for access. Courtesy ramp is also out of the water and is usable. Current level is 659 feet msl. K Dock has three bass tournaments scheduled for this fall. The first is this Saturday, Sept. 24, a benefit for the local Lions Club. The tourney has a 50/50 payout. Take off will be at 8 a.m. with weigh-in at 3 p.m. Entry is $50 per boat with $10 optional big bass side pot available. Early signup will begin Friday at 8 a.m. Other tournaments are a benefit for Chadwich (Mo.) High School on Saturday, Oct. 15 and the 3rd annual K Dock Fall Bass Tournament on Sunday, Oct. 23. Call the marina for more details (417-334-2880).

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 9-21-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported that the rainbow bite has been super, while the brown trout appear to be slowing down. Water conditions are great with a normal level of water, low in the mornings with high water late in the day. Overall fishing rated good.
(updated 9-21-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said the guides have helped their guests bring some very nice rainbows to the boat this past week – several at 18 inches or more. The catch of the best keeper size – 12-15 inches – has been a little higher from previous weeks. Shrimp has been the most successful bait for quantity catches; sculpins are still proving their value for the fightin' browns. The size of the browns is smaller than we see earlier in the year, but the fight is just as good and the catch just as exciting. Lots of early morning mist and fog, so be careful on the river, take it slow and easy until the mist burns off. Cotter will be hopping this Saturday the 24th, when the annual Bridge Bash takes over Big Spring Park. Find some time around your fishing excursion to come visit this beautiful park.
(updated 9-14-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said that during the past week a trace of rain fell along with moderate temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.3 feet to rest at 1.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is 35.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 feet to rest at 6 feet below seasonal power pool and 20 below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 5.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 13.7 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had heavy generation in the afternoon 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 553.97 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 9-21-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said this past week they finally had some rain, and the east side of the creeks are muddy with lots of debris. The water coming in from the creeks is very cool. The front of Bennett’s Bayou creek is 82 degrees and the incoming water is 73 degrees. The new water has changed the dynamics of the lake. Tom said he has been fishing the dam area for stripers in 32-35 feet of water early all morning long. All week long the stripers have stayed in that range. When Tom is about to finish fishing he says he dumps his remaining live shad into the lake and the stripers have exploded around his boat. The last two days, not one striper has come up. The marks he’s seeing are now catfish. They have been catching them each day. The stripers are moving out of the area. Tom said he plans on pre-fishing Diamond Bay and the Robinson Point area. That is the first place they will show up. He also plans on fishing the state line area. With the cold water coming into the lake, the stripers should make a run up the lake and start their fall feed.  Reynolds took out two couples for a recent two-day striper trip. They started each day fishing near the dam and caught and missed a few stripers. The bite is very slow and the bite is not very hard. The stripers will hit the bait and then come back and pull the rod but not hard. Most times the group would miss the fish since they were only holding the bait, not biting it. On Sunday Donna had the hot hand. She had figured out the bite and was hooking the fish and had her limit within the first two hours. We did not catch anymore stripers, but did catch catfish. Reynolds said he really feels the stripers are migrating and the next big rain will really get them moving. The fall bite should start anytime and will continue this way into November.
(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.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 9-21-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake fell 0.6 feet to rest at 2.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet and 26.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had reliable wadable water every morning, with light generation in the afternoon. The 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 my favorite, 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 eighteen 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). While you are at the creek you should 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 National River

(updated 9-21-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Buffalo is low. 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 9-21-2016) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Crooked Creek is low. 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.