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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 9, 2016

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report November 9, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 652.82 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 11-2-2016) K Dock Marina reported that very warm water temperature has not helped the bite. Had 71 degrees surface temperature last Thursday afternoon at the dock, and temps have ranged 68-71. Water is clear to stained. Water level is almost back to the old power pool normal level of 654 feet msl. All species are slow. They were hoping for great weekend temps for fishermen, though – still in shorts and a T-Shirt for Halloween! Showing 83-85 degrees this week. Hit the lake early before the sun bakes the surface of the water. Fish slow and off the banks. Crappie and walleye should start hitting soon when the cold snap comes. Live minnows on crappie, spoons on walleye and small plastics on bass. Been getting some good reports on catfish. They are feeding on live bluegills, nightcrawlers and crawdads.

White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 11-9-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said, “What a great week in the Arkansas Ozarks! The fall colors are not brilliant this autumn – you'll see a pop of bright reds or orange once in a while – but come on over anyway, the fishing has been outstanding.” Gamble says to be prepared for very cool mornings because they’re getting some fall temperatures (at last) and warm afternoons. A silver-bellied rogue (black or blue back) was catching all the fish this past week, mid-depth, 3 inches long. The rainbows are loving the shrimp/pink PowerBait mashups. You might draw the attention of some browns (they have seen a fair number this week) with a minnow or a sculpin, but never underestimate a frustrated brown if you tease him enough with a gold Cleo, a white and gray jig or a peach/orange/yellow egg pattern fly. The holiday season is coming up and weekend getaways are being scheduled. Remember, Ron says: You can trout-fish year-round in the Arkansas fisheries and the Southern hospitality is all-year-long every day!
(updated 11-9-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported water conditions are perfect clarity with the river at a normal level. There have been three generators running the past few days. Rainbow trout bite is great. The rainbows are taking to corn and PowerBaits. Browns are being caught but they are really slow. They’re there, you can see them, but they’re proving hard to catch.
(updated 11-9-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) reported that during the past week, they have had no rain, warm temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.4 feet to rest at 5.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 41.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.2 feet to rest at 5.9 feet below seasonal power pool and 19.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 5.9 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had heavy generation in the afternoon with lower generation in the morning and no wadable water. All of the lakes on this system are below seasonable power pool. With cooler fall weather and lower lake levels, we should be seeing more wadable water. The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed from Nov. 1 to Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The state park will be seasonal Catch and Release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.
Berry said that on the White, the bite has been spotty of late. Some days have been excellent and some poor. The hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals, though there has been 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 size 16 or18), 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).
Berry also said, “A couple of weeks ago I guided Susan Thrasher. She is a repeat client. I always enjoy fishing with her because she is a guide (she owns a nice lodge on the Caney Fork River in Lancaster Tenn.) and is also a Federation of Fly Fishers Certified Casting Instructor. To say that she is an accomplished angler is a bit of an understatement. In addition, she had a career as an executive in a large international engineering firm. We fished the Catch and Release section at Rim Shoals and it was a gorgeous day. It was sunny with no wind and a high temperature of 72 degrees. I rigged her rod with the usual suspects, a ruby midge below a cerise San Juan worm (the flies that I have been fishing with great success for months). We began drifting and were into nice fish immediately. The hot fly was the ruby midge. After a while, she asked if she could use her favorite fly. Now, my business philosophy is that the day belongs to the client, so I said ‘sure.’ She ties a size 14 black thread midge with a tungsten bead on a scud hook, and has had great success with it on the Caney Fork and other rivers. She wanted to see if it would work on the White. The fly was way bigger than the midges I have seen (the ruby is a size 18) and I was interested to see if it would work here. We clipped off the ruby midge and tied on her fly. We were into fish immediately and fished that way for an hour or so. In the process, we caught a lot of trout. She wondered if her fly would out-produce the ruby midge. I proposed a simple experiment. We would re-rig her rod with her fly as the lead fly and the ruby midge as the dropper. Once again, we were into fish immediately. We didn’t count, but it was pretty apparent that her fly was catching the majority of the trout. We replaced the ruby midge with another of her large black midges. We noticed that several trout were hitting the strike indicator. We went back to my suburban and got an extra rod that we rigged with a Western pink lady grasshopper and used her fly as a dropper. We took a couple on the hopper, but the black midge caught even more trout. I was intrigued and asked the name of the fly. She said that she really didn’t have a name for it but often referred to it as the Miracle Midge. I knew of another fly pattern with that name and suggested that she call it the Thrasher, her last name. She liked that. We fished until around 4 p.m. She landed well over 60 trout, most of which were caught on the Thrasher. As other boats came in with friends of hers in them, they asked if we had fished with her fly and how well we had done. I answered “yes” and “very well.” It was what they had expected. Sometimes we learn of new fly patterns in unexpected places. I took the fly that was still on my fly rod, below the grass hopper, and gave it to my commercial fly-tyer at Blue Ribbon Fly Shop to reproduce. I want to fish it myself and see if it works for me, too. I think it will and that it will be a fly that earns its own keep.”

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).(updated 11-9-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the busy schedule on Norfork Lake continues. Tom had two groups in for their Cast & Blast package. They striper-fish for two days and hunted pheasant the other day. The stripers are on the feed above the state line. This past week they caught over 60 stripers. Tom says he knows people are saying they are catching stripers on the flats, but not the numbers his groups are. While they are baiting for shad they are seeing hundreds of stripers way up the creeks in 3 feet of clear water. They are feeding in the coldest water on the lake. This week the lake will turn over. The turnover will shut down fishing on the main lake for a few days, but after that the fish will go on a major feed and you will be able to find them anywhere on the lake. Look on the flats and up the major creek arms for schooling fish. The white bass were feeding around Bryant Creek for periods of over an hour. You should start seeing that after the lake turnover. If you fish above the state line, do not expect to catch any stripers if you plan on trolling with plastic baits or shiners. Tom says he has been watching trollers and shiner fisherman and not one has caught a striper. Tom’s groups are using 7-inch to 8-inch gizzard shad. That’s all the stripers want right now, so just wait until the lake turns and the plastics and shiners will then catch stripers. The best bite is the flat next to the river channel in 25 feet of water. There are huge schools of shad roaming the river. Just keep moving up and down the channel. They are catching stripers using downlines, weighted floats and planer boards, the lines are set at 16 feet.
Reynolds added that he took Mitch, Dave and Mark out for their annual Cast & Blast. They striper-fished for two days and caught their limit both days. The first day it took all eight hours to catch their limit. They had plenty of bites but it was one of those days to catch fish it took three bites to catch each fish. One of the nice things about fishing above the state line is you can catch your shad up there. After they were done the first day the guys let Tom catch their bait for the next day, he said. That saved Tom both time and money, he said, plus it was fun for them seeing how the guides catch bait. The next day the bite started right away and continued all morning. The group caught a limit plus two more in less than three hours. As always, the extra two fish were released. They were seeing large schools of stripers roaming the flats feeding shad. If you have never caught stripers, now is a great time.

 
(updated 11-2-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the Norfork Lake fishing pattern is trying its hardest to get into the fall pattern, but Mother Nature has thrown them a curve. They have had unseasonably warm weather with highs in the mid-80s and lows in the low 60s, which is almost 15-20 degrees above average. It has been great for the vacationers enjoying the area still being able to wear shorts and T-shirts, but it is confusing the fish. Lou says he is conflicted because he does love this warm weather, but he is also ready for the fish to start feeding heavily for the cold weather. “I guess I will enjoy whatever nature brings my way,” he said. Lou has been fishing for striped bass and doing OK until the last couple of days. He is finding good fish in the mornings and late afternoons, but they are not real aggressive in biting. He has been fishing on some of the flats heading up river, but one day this week he decided to check out other areas where stripers are typically biting at this time. He found a lot of big fish suspended at 40-55 feet in 120 feet of water off of deep-water bluffs. He dropped live bait as well as jigged a spoon, but had no takers. He believes these fish are hovering in the deepest, coolest water they can get to, that still has good oxygen. From the last oxygen report that he’s seen, at depths below 55 feet the oxygen level is very low, indicating the lake has not totally turned over. The good news for fishing is that assuming the long-term weather forecast is correct, the weather will cool starting this Thursday or Friday and stay at normal temps. The lower ambient temperatures will lower the lake water temperature and allow the lake to finish its turnover and the fish will truly start their fall feed. It won't be long.
Gabric also said that even though the striper bite has slowed for him, the largemouth bite has been excellent. He found surface feeding fish around the bridge columns and said he had a blast. Any topwater bait would have worked, but he had a Kastmaster tied on so he starting casting. Every cast for 45 minutes he either caught a good-size fish or had a bump and missed it. Crankbaits are working for the suspended fish, and plastics worked along the bottom are also working well. Deep-water bluffs either in a cut or at a point are great areas to catch some nice fish. He has also picked up some nice bass near brush piles jigging a spoon in 35 feet of water. The crappie bite is also pretty good. He has caught some nice slabs on a 35-38-feet-deep main lake brush pile. The fish were suspended 20-25 feet down on the top of the brush pile. Sunrise and sunset are two great times to catch crappie, but you can also pick up some fish during the day. Catfish were biting well for a couple of his guests using jugs set in 30-40 feet of water. Their best bait so far has been nightcrawlers. The surface water temperature is in the 72-74 degree range, which is slightly higher than Lou’s last report. A rise in lake temperature is not normal for this time of year. The lake level is fairly stable and currently sits at 552.55. The creeks and coves as well as the flats on the main lake are stained. The deep water of the main lake appears to be clear on the surface.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 11-9-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake remained steady at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 27.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had low levels of generation all day with wadable water every day. 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 wadable water every morning 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. Dry Run Creek has been less crowded with school 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).

Buffalo National River

(updated 11-9-2016) 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 11-9-2016) 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.