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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report
October 26, 2016
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Below is the 'Arkansas Game and Fish' Fishing Report October 26, 2016.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 654.87 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 10-19-2016) K Dock Marina reported the lake has been dropping fast the past few weeks at about 1.5 to 2 inches per day. That will make the bite slower. Water temperature has finally started to drop. That should trigger the fish to move up shallower and start feeding before winter. Table Rock Lake is 6.5 feet below normal, which means very minimal water is coming into Bull Shoals. Fishing is always better when we have a flow of water coming over Power Site Dam. All species are slow right now. Water temperature has ranged 70-74 degrees. Water level is 656.3 feet msl and falling (normal for October is 659 feet msl). Water is stained. Black bass are good to fair on topwater baits early morning on the points. Buzzbaits, Spooks and Whopper Ploppers are working well. Heavy jigs, tube baits and Hard Heads with Green Pumpkin plastics are working near the banks on the steep chunk rock bluffs. Also seeing bass being caught on squarebill and medium crankbaits off the bluffs. Spinnerbaits are working when we have windy conditions. (Caught some big smallmouth one afternoon on a ¾-ounce peanut butter and jelly jig about a mile from the dock!). Crappie have been fair to good on live minnows. This should get much better with the water temps dropping as more trees and brush piles appear in shallower water in the coves. Have seen good-sized crappie the past few weeks, but no big limits yet. The front that moved through should bring on some good crappie fishing. Walleye has been fair to slow. Spoons are working in the 20-30 feet range with some short walleye starting to hit crankbaits deep. Bottom bouncing nightcrawlers in the deep cuts on the flats have also worked. This too will get better with the weather change and cooler water temps. Anglers have been spoiled with too many blue bird days. Walleye like to feed in the overcast, cooler conditions. Catfish are good on live bluegill. They’ve seen some really good flathead on trotlines. Let’s hope the gar go deep soon! White bass have been fair to good. Seen several whites being caught by anglers while trolling. With the water level dropping, watch for the whites chasing shad on the flats between K Dock and Beaver Creek. Keep at Rat-L Trap handly. Remember that K Dock has minnows and nightcrawlers for sale through December.
(updated 10-19-2016)  Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported water temperatures were about 71 degrees last Saturday and fish are moving. Had some crazy days recently, some cold rain come through, a couple of fronts as well. The thermocline dropped a little bit and the fish are starting to move back some into the creeks. Don’t think the majority of them are back in there, but you can catch them early in the morning. There’s a good topwater bite going throwing a Sammy, a Zara Spook or a Rebel Pop-R. You’ll see ‘em. Y ou might not want to chase ‘em down, but if you get in the vicinity and get it in there, it’s over like that. Drop-shot bite is going. Some of those fish we’re targeting in 26-28 feet of water. We think the thermocline’s dropping a little bit, we’re seeing shad balls in 30-40 feet of water. Really pay attention to your graph. It’s a tough time of the year;  you have to put the trolling motor down and keep fishing. If you’ve got wind, you can pick up a spinnerbait, they’re bringing in fish. Still catching fish on jigs, isolated cover is really w here you want to focus. Back into those creeks, if you run around a dock or a channel swing, you want to fish it. Throw a squarebill. A Whopper Plopper is working in the backwater; that’s going to get you your bigger fish. Starting to get a few on the wake-style or the bigger swimbaits in the backwater. Also, with the water coming down, whatever bushes or laydowns are left, those will hold some fish. So if you come across some cover, make sure you’re flipping in every bit that’s there and keep moving. It’s that time of the year, and everything’s changing. The crankbait bite is starting to go but it’s not quite there yet. Picking up a few on Wiggle Wart, the temperature went back up to 80 and was going to be in the 80s the next couple of days, so you have to fish the conditions. If it’s laying flat, pick up some spinnerbaits, a Shaky Head, a drop-shot, whatever to get a bite.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 10-26-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported perfect water conditions, with the level of the river low and 2 generators running. Rainbow trout fishing has been excellent. Use PowerBait. Brown trout appear to be spawning and the fishing was good, though mostly small catches.
(updated 10-26-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock described it as an awesome week on the White River out of Cotter. October has brought a lot of anglers to the Arkansas Ozarks and our natural resources have stayed strong. The rainbows have been healthy and brightly colored – and plentiful! A 6-year-old angler caught a 23-inch rainbow this week! He was pretty excited. The gold and black tiger-striped Rooster Tail has been responsible for some great catches this week as well as the always productive shrimp/PowerBait combos. Orange and lime green are great colors for autumn fishing. Although the spawn has begun for the browns, we've still brought a few to the boat for pictures before releasing. We say, "Get a guide and go." Go fishing. Go catching.
(updated 10-26-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) reported that during the past week, Cotter had about a half-inch of rain, cool temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.5 feet to rest at 4.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 40.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.4 feet to rest at 5.9 feet below seasonal power pool and 19.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 5.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.9 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, we should 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. We have had no 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 cerise San Juan worm 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 552.62 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 10-26-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake fall bite continues from Cranfield to north of the state line. The water is the coldest above Calamity Beach up to Udall. Stripers are surfacing and feeding on shad both early morning and evening from Calamity Beach to Udall. Walleye are also being caught using crankbaits on the points from the state line to Udall. Tom says he continues to fish in waters that range from 20-30 feet off the channel; the stripers seem to feeding on the flats. The biggest drawback on fishing north is the intense fog that seems to gather up there each morning. The bite is very slow while the fog lasts, with the foggy days being his worst days for landing a limit of stripers. Stripers, whites, black bass and hybrids are schooled on the flats beginning about 1¾ miles from Cranfield Island. Stay in the channel and you will go up about a mile and the lake makes a wide left turn left, then go up another ¾ mile and it turns right. The cove on the left past the turn is a big flat and you should find the fish feeding in water of less than 40 feet. One of Tom’s client called him and was visiting and wanted to go striper fishing. So they set the time and asked if their dog Max could come along. Tom has hunting dogs that are always with him, so he agreed. They made the long ride and hit fog, which slowed us down but was not too bad that day. We started fishing and hooked right away; it’s always funny when a dog sees a fish jump away from the boat. Most just want to lick the fish, and that was Max. All he wanted to do was lick the stripes. The stripers are off the channel and feeding on the flats. Tom said he has seen some of the big schools of the year up there, and when you hit them, the bait goes wild and you usually get multiple hits. They ended up missing their limit by one but sure had a great time with Dale, Debbie and Max. The fall bite has started, so make your plans on the web with for everything Norfork Lake! Be sure to read Tom’s Fall Striper tactics; the article can be found on the website.
(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 10-26-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 feet to rest at 0.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 27.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had low levels of generation all day with some wadable water. There has been little wadable water on the Norfork. The lake has turned over and there is a sulfur smell on the upper river and with lower dissolved oxygen, in that area, the bite has been slow there. 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. My favorite fly has been the ruby midge.
Berry said 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 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. Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
Berry adds, “The proper pair of shoes can be quite an advantage when fishing from a boat. They should provide good solid no slip footing. They should also keep your feet comfortable in wet conditions and cause no harm to your boat. I like them to be able to go on and off easily. I sometimes find myself in my boat moving somewhere to wade. On those occasions, I wear my waders and the choice of boots is critical. Waders can also function as a great pair of rain pants on a stormy day. Whether you are wearing rubber or felt soles, it is important to not wear studded soles in the boat. Not only are they hard on your boats finish they are also subject to slipping. It is like wearing roller skates in the boat. I favor a pair of Korker wading boots, for these occasions. They have soles that can be changed quickly. When in the boat, I wear plain rubber soles that provide solid footing. When I leave the boat, I switch to a pair of studded soles that will provide sure footing on slick wading conditions. When I am fishing on most days, I favor boat shoes. The first ones that I acquired were wading sandals. They were incredibly comfortable. The problem was that I was getting some strange sun burns. With my fair complexion, I needed more foot coverage. I needed a real shoe and not a sandal. I have noticed that a lot of my fellow guides work in flip flops. I know they are cool and comfortable but they do not supply good footing. The other day I noticed one of my fellow guides working on Dry Run creek, in a pair of flip flops. I winced as I watched him walk through a patch of poison ivy. On Dry Run Creek, I wear my waders and will wade out in the stream to net a large trout that just doesn’t want to come in. You can’t do that in flip flops. I found a nice pair of wading shoes that had a slick quick lacing system and were fast drying. They were great in the boat except they had hard black rubber soles that marked my wife, Lori’s, kitchen floor. They had to go! I switched out for some boat shoes of similar design with a nonmarking sole. They were conventional lace ups. I installed a quick lacing system. They are sure-footed and quick-drying. I even wear them in the shop. When the weather turns wet, I switch over to a pair of L.L. Bean duck shoes. They are waterproof and have non-skid soles. I find them to be quite comfortable and they keep my feet dry in a wet boat, with an inch of rain in the bottom (fish bite in the rain). When the weather turns really cold, I have a pair of eight-inch high L. L. Bean duck boots that have a Gore-Tex lining and heavy insulation to keep my feet dry in bitter conditions. They have proved their worth on many occasions. Can the proper footwear help you catch more fish? No. Can the proper footwear make you comfortable and let you stay out there longer? Yes. I hope to see you out there.”

Buffalo National River

(updated 10-26-2016) 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 10-26-2016) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said the water is navigable. The smallmouths are still active. His 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.