Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 28, 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 28, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 658.13 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 9-28-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported perfect river conditions for fishing. Two generators were running on the dam at most. Trout are biting good, with some great catches of rainbows. Browns are biting really well at night. Spinners are working well for the fish.
(updated 9-28-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said they’re starting to see some nip in the air – autumn's finally popping out. Cool mornings, warm days, perfect weather for float fishing on the White for trout. The rainbow catch has been fabulous; they're snapping up the shrimp and worm combo. Good sizes among the catch, too; there were several rainbows measured at 16 inches or above. Catch-and-release certificates are being rewarded and soon the new pins will be available to show off on your favorite good-luck fishing cap. Ron is seeing grasshoppers out there now, so they know the hopper patterns and baits should lure some trout to the fishers; good for a tr,y anyway. Ron says, come out and spend some time with us on the river – you won't regret it.
(updated 9-28-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) reported one rain event with a bit over an inch of rainfall at Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds last week. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.9 feet to rest at 2.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is 36.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 feet to rest at 6.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 20.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.8 feet to rest at 4.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 12.9 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had heavy generation in the afternoon with wadable water on some mornings and the bite has been excellent. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals, where there is some wadable water. 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.
John also reports: “As many of you know, my wife, Lori, and I have been teaching a basic fly fishing class at Arkansas State University Mountain Home, for several years. Our fall class is scheduled for four Thursday nights (6-8 p.m.) on Oct. 6, 13, 20 and 27 on the ASUMH campus. This is the perfect place for us to hold our classes. It is conveniently located just off the U.S. 62/412 by pass across the street from the Donald W. Reynolds Library in Mountain Home. There is ample parking, a nice lawn for us to teach casting and a great class room for us to teach in. When we moved here 16 years ago, we left careers in the corporate world. I was a CPA working for Ducks Unlimited, and Lori was a counselor working in marketing and corporate training for a large psychiatric hospital. The idea was to simplify our lives, concentrate our efforts on fly fishing guiding and teaching and enjoying the laid-back lifestyle here in the Twin Lakes area. We have never regretted our move. We have been successful, in establishing ourselves in new careers and making a living doing what we love to do. Hands down, the favorite part of our new careers is the teaching. Working with new fly fishers is very rewarding to us. Though Lori has been teaching fly casting for 15 years and I have been teaching it for over 25 years, she is the better casting instructor and therefore leads the casting instruction. I concentrate on bring my 25 years of guiding to bear when leading the classroom portion of the class. I teach things like equipment (what to buy and what not to buy), water safety, knots, rigging, fly selection and reading the water, to name a few. Half of the class is devoted to casting instruction (with an emphasis on personal attention) and half is devoted to the class room. I assist Lori on the casting and she assists me in the class room. We have slowly improved the curriculum over the years to keep everything simple and easy to comprehend. This is all taught in a comfortable, non-threatening atmosphere, where questions are welcome. It is the perfect opportunity for anyone to learn how to fly fish. Couples find it to be a great place to share a new endeavor. The university has made everything easy by developing a website for effortless enrollment in the class. Just go to and sign up. If you do not have access to a computer, call Sarah Sikes at (870) 508-6105. There is a nominal fee, for the class. If this sounds like something that you would be interested in, please sign up. Lori and I look forward to working with you.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.73 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 9-28-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said this past week instead of cooling down, Norfork Lake went up in water temperature. Tom said that at the time he was reporting, the lake is at 83 degrees from Udall to Big Creek. The stripers have shut down. Tom said he fished four times again from Udall to Big Creek looking for feeding stripers and did not have a bite. He has canceled five trips and will continue to until the lake cools down. There are some guides taking out clients but Tom said he will not when he knows there are no stripers to catch. His best advice is stay home until the weather takes a turns cold. The lake needs to get into the low 70s for the upper lake stripers to turn on and into the high 60s for the mid- to lower lake sees any real activity. The white bass and largemouth are feeding early on small fry in the 101 and Hand Cove areas and above Fouts. The weather forecast calling for highs in the 70s and lows in the low 60s. We should see some water cooling but until we get a hard cold rain, the lake will not drop much at once. It will over time, but for now switch to other species or watch baseball and football. Tom said he and his son, Sean, will continue to prefish this week trying to find active fish but he did not expect much until next week.
(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 9-28-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake rose 0.4 feet to rest at 1.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet and 26 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 (#18, #20, #22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (#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 eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise #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. My favorite fly has been the green butt. 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 (#14), Y2Ks (#12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise #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 9-28-2016) 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 9-28-2016) 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.