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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 19, 2016

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report October 19, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 655.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
No reports.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 10-19-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported water is clear and the river level is normal, with two generators running. Trout fishing is great if you’re going for rainbows, but things slow down in the brown trout side. Try PowerBaits for the best success.
(updated 10-19-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said the Arkansas Ozarks is experiencing an Indian Summer – very mild temperatures in the middle of what should be chilly autumn weather. Shirt sleeves and sunscreen for a while yet. The rainbow bite remains good to very good; browns are skittish but will still snatch at a sculpin or minnow if only out of anger at being harassed while the spawn is on. (Be extremely caution around the spawning beds; don't disturb them by walking or wading through them, or with motor props or jet propulsion.) Best lure this week: Rebel's Teeny Crawfish, followed by the No. 9 CountDown in brown trout or silver/black. Expect the bite to pick up on white and flashy pearl stick baits. Orange PowerBait is a good choice right now, paired with white and/or a tiny piece of shrimp.
(updated 10-19-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) reported that during the past week, they about an inch and a half of rain, warm temperatures and moderate wind. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell a foot to rest at 3 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 39 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 feet to rest at 6.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 20.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 5.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.7 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had heavy generation in the afternoon this week with lower generation in the morning and no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes on this system are below seasonable power pool. With cooler fall weather and lower lake levels, they expect see more wadable water. On the White, the bite has been spotty. Some days have been excellent and some poor. 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 cerise San Juan worm with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it).

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.84 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 10-19-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake fall bite is picking up speed with the cooling of the lake. Stripers continue to school in the upper Norfork lake area. Tom has observer trollers and spooners fishing for stripers from Cranfield Island up to Twin Coves. The whites, black bass and hybrids are schooled on the flats in front of Twin Coves. The water temperature dropped another 3 degrees after the rains last week; that’s all it took for the fish to start feeding. The main lake has yet to turn off, so spend time fishing from Cranfield Island up to the state line or Big Creek up to the Elizabeth ramp. Tom also said, “Most of us that have been fishing for years tend to form opinions on what a fish should be doing at certain times of years. We fish areas based on that and wonder why some years we never catch fish in that area then other years we do. We assume stripers leave the main lake and move up the creeks and river where the oxygen is better and that’s a good assumption. What we do not realize is how far a striper will move up a creek. Last week I was catching bait in 4 feet of water and suddenly my net jerked and when I pulled it in I had a 8-pound striper. The next time I was up catching bait I move farther up in 3 feet of clear water and saw stripers swimming up the creek. Stripers being that far up the creek says we should always experiment when we are fishing, don’t stay in the normal patterns, because the stripers are not. I stated before that I had canceled trips because the water was too warm and the stripers quit feeding. One of trips I canceled was with Chuck and Debbie. They were coming down for two days of striper fishing. We agreed when the fish started feeding they would reschedule. Well, the stripers started feeding and they came down and fished for two days and caught their limits both days in two hours. Debbie caught the biggest and most. We had a great time and their patience with me holding them off until the bite started was worth the wait for them.”
(updated 10-19-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake's fall fishing pattern is under way. The lake is finally starting to cool down, but additional cooling is needed to bring on the full-blown fall pattern. Striped bass are biting well up in the coolest water at the Arkansas-Missouri border. Live shad (big ones) are working the best set at 12-18 feet, but trollers are starting to pick up a few fish on big swimbaits. The stripers up north seem to be cruising in the shallow water and not necessarily in the old river channel. A few nice stripers and big hybrids are starting to show up on the big flats from the Cranfield area up to the Red Bank area. Vertical jigging with a spoon is working the best as the fish are hugging the bottom in 30-40 feet of water. The fish are showing up all day long starting at sunrise up to sunset. This doesn't mean they are biting all day long. Over the last week Lou has caught stripers and hybrids at sunrise, at noon and Tuesday he said he found them around 4 p.m. Lou figures you need to fish all day long to be there when they are biting. Just take a cooler along with some water and sandwiches. Lou says he tries to vary the time he’s fishing so he can know what's going on different times of the day. It's a fun time of year when you never know when the bite is going to happen. Lou has a fishing prediction that over the next week the lake will cool to the upper 60s, the lake will finalize its turnover and the striped bass will start to show up on the large flats starting in the Robinson area up to Missouri and also up toward the Fouts area. One of the main reasons he likes to vertical jig with a spoon this time of year is that all species will be found in the same areas and at the same depth. He also likes flat fishing, but it can be a little tedious, so patience and good electronics do help a lot. Over the last week, except for one day up river fishing with gizzard shad, Lou has been vertical jigging flats in 28-40 feet of water. This evening, as well as yesterday morning, Lou landed walleye, white bass, largemouth bass, crappie, hybrids and stripers. What more can a fisherperson ask for? Big schools of fish are just starting to show up and this will be more commonplace as the water continues to cool. The best places for crappie are on brush piles that have been sunk in 25-40 feet of water. The crappie will be anywhere from 10-30 feet down. The hardest part of crappie fishing at this time is finding the best depth to catch the fish. Live minnows are working great, but vertical jigging a small spoon or jigging small plastics tipped with a minnow is also working very well. If it is bluegills you are wanting, work the same brush piles as for crappie, but use crickets for the bait. Largemouth bass are all over the place. You can find them suspended 15-20 feet down off the deep bluff lines. They are also lying on the bottom early and late in the day on the shallow banks. You will also find some nice fish hanging around the crappie brush piles. Crankbaits are picking up some nice suspended fish, and plastics of all kinds are working for the bottom feeders. The bass hanging around brush are hitting spoons or drop-shot rigs. Norfork Lake is falling slowly due to one generator being run for a good portion of the day and the level sits at 552.84 feet msl. The surface water temperature has been on a roller coaster ride. With the very hot days they have recently had, the temperature has risen slightly and Tuesday evening was around 75 with the morning temperature around 73 degrees, which is a couple of degrees rise over the last couple of days. The creeks and coves and main lake flats are stained, with the rest of the main lake clear.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 10-19-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 0.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had low levels of generation all day with little wadable water. All of the lakes on this system are below seasonable power pool. With cooler fall weather and lower lake levels we should see more wadable water. There has been little wadable water on the Norfork but it has fished well. 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. Berry's favorite fly has been the ruby midge. Dry Run Creek has been less crowded with school back in session. A large number of brown trout have moved into the creek. 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 #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.
Berry says, "A grand slam is where you catch all four species, brown, brook, cutthroat and rainbow trout on one day. In my 30-plus years of fly fishing on the White and Norfork rivers, I have done it five times (two of which occurred on the same day). It seems like catching three of them is fairly common but the ever elusive brook trout is not very abundant. I have never had a client catch one on Dry Run Creek in my 25 years of guiding there. All of that changed last Thursday. My client Scott brought his 12-year-old daughter, Grace, and his 9-year-old son, Scotty, up from Memphis to fish Dry Run Creek. It was a cool start but a beautiful day. We were the first ones there and I brought some of my loaner waders and lots of socks to equip the kids in waders. If your children wear waders, you can fish spots that are difficult to get to and do not get as much pressure as others.Early on, Grace had the hot hand. Her first fish was a stout 23-inch brown that was quickly followed by a 25-inch brown that was fat and colored up and some rainbows. When I guide on Dry Run Creek, my goal is for all of my clients to land at least one trophy trout. Now Grace had landed two but Scotty was fishless. He had a monster on but lost it. I coached him on his mistake and had him trade spots with Grace. He was soon on a fat 22-incher and this time managed to get it to the net. The next trout was a spectacular 25-inch male brown with a spectacular kype. A few rainbows followed. It was time for a change in scenery and we walked far upstream. Grace continued catching browns and rainbows. Scotty was still in the game. Dad was working with Grace and I was working with Scotty. About this time he landed a 21-inch cutthroat. It was a great fish and it made me consider the possibility of a grand slam. The very next trout was a brook. It was only 10 inches long but it got me more excited than any of the other much more spectacular fish that we had landed, because it gave me my first client grand slam on Dry Run Creek. There were photos and high-fives galore.My only question is now that you have landed a 25-inch male brown trout and achieved a grand slam, on your first day of fly fishing, at age 9, where do you go from here?"

Buffalo National River

(updated 10-19-2016) Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the Buffalo is navigable. The smallmouths are still active. John Berry's 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 10-19-2016) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) 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.