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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 30, 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 30, 2016.
Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 652.09 feet msl (normal conservation pool – 659.00 msl).
(updated 11-30-2016) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is about 20 feet lower than last year at this time. Quite a few things are going on. A major cold front came through. Two weeks ago  it was in the 80s, looks like they’ll be in the 60s for the next week or so, he said. Lows are getting down in the 30s. Fishing has been pretty good. With the temperature change, the baitfish (shad) are still in the back and in secondary points going in there. A couple of things are still working. Still a topwater bite early. Throwing a Sammie for the topwater, they’ll just randomly find them throughout the day. A squarebill is hitting in these huge balls of shad. You know you’re in the right place when the whole graph lights up white, or you’ll throw your bait in there and they’ll just scoot out on the water. The Wiggle Worm bite is starting to pick up. Wiggle Worm or Rock Crawler working parallel to the bank. If you’ve got bluebird skies, you can always catch fish on a jig. The spoon bite is starting to get going here, it seems to be working off the secondary points, going into the creek channels, getting in that 30-35 feet of water. Using shad-style spoons and just jigging with the spoon. Watch your graph. Also using a shad-style drop-shot bait with an 18-inch leader. That seems to be doing a little bit better than the worm. They seem to be keyed in on the shad pretty good. In back the fish seem to be sitting more on the bluffier style banks; that’s where he's been having most of the luck there, with the jig on those kind of banks. Also in the back areas you can pick up some quality fish on the wake-style baits or the bigger gizzard-style shad baits. Look for the wake caused by the baitfish and that’s what you’re trying to imitate back there. It’s crystal clear out here, the visibility is as clear as he's seen it in a while. Up the lake some in the creeks there is some color in the water. Try getting into that dirtier water, and wind will also help. It’s getting cold, wear a lot of layers.
White River (Bull Shoals Tailwater)

(updated 11-23-2016) Ron Gamble at Cotter Trout Dock said the river has dropped, and if the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Southwest Power decide to keep it low, word on the river is that we just might see a nice spawn for the rainbows, too. With the water at minimum flow or just above, you'll need to leave the bigger baits in your tackle box and pull out the trusty spoons: gold Cleos and hammered red-and-gold spoons. You might try your KastMasters or even dust off the old-timers’ favorite: the SuperDuper.  Hang a No. 4 Flat fish while anchoring over a deep hole and just watch for the action. Consistent water levels will allow the trout to settle down into some normal feeding habits, so early morning and early evening may be the best times for easy catches. Some folks tell Ron they're having the "other T-meat" for Thanksgiving. Whatever you cook, enjoy your holidays and keep fishing.
(updated 11-23-2016) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported clear water conditions and the river and current normal for the second straight week. There are 2-3 generators running on the White. Rainbows are plentiful and the bite is good. Use PowerBait. No reports on brown trout.
(updated 11-23-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) reported during the past week, they have had no rain event, cool temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.3 feet to rest at 7.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is 43.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 feet to rest at 6.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 20.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 6.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.9 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had moderate generation in the afternoon with lower generation in the morning and limited wadable water. The catch and release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until Jan. 31, 2017, 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. On the White, the bite has been spotty. Some days have been excellent and some poor. The hot spot has been Wildcat 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 (Berry's current favorite is a cerise San Juan worm with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it). Berry also reminds fly tyers and trout fishing fans to take in the Sowbug, a three-day celebration of fly tying that is scheduled for March 23-25, 2017, at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. Fly tyers from throughout the United States will be there and the event usually draw a tyer or two from abroad.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.87 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April – 553.75 msl, April-September – 552.00 msl).
(updated 11-30-2016) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the lake level has risen slightly and currently sits at 552.86. The surface water temperature is falling slowly and is currently 59-60 degrees. Most of the lake is stained with the main lake the clearest. Lou said he believes the lake has finally finalized its turnover so the lake clearing will begin. Lou also says Norfork Lake has entered its fall fishing pattern. The only big change over the last couple of weeks is that the fish have started to move into shallower water. Stripers, hybrids and whites are being found on 20-45 foot flats. The flats are holding baitfish at all different depths depending on the time of day and big schools of stripers, hybrids and whites are roaming at all different depths feeding on the shad early in the morning as well as in the evening. It is a big challenge finding the schools of fish and it will take some time watching your electronics, but when you find the fish it is a blast. They had four on at the same time a few times. His group has been vertical jigging with a spoon bouncing it off the bottom, but if you mark fish suspended, reel up to their depth and hang on. Areas where Lou has been fishing have not changed from his last report. Start looking on the flats around the Highway 101 bridge up to the Red Bank area, as well as from the Highway 62 bridge up to the Fouts area. Check out the Robinson flat as fish are starting to move in. There has been some isolated topwater action for striped bass and if you are in the right spot and ready you will pick up a few fish. Largemouth bass are starting to school partway back in creeks and coves. Lou found some nice schools of bass on the bottom in 30-35 feet of water. His group was vertical jigging and hooking up one after another. Nice 2½-4 pound fish were being boated. Spotted bass will also be schooling up this time of year. Spinnerbaits have worked well on the windy days and crankbaits are also working on main lake points, as well as, secondary points. Crappie are becoming more aggressive. Look at brush in 20-40 feet of water. You will find the bigger slabs in the deeper water inside of the brush and other nice fish will be suspended above the brush. Small spoons, grubs and live bait are all working at times. Live bait is still your best bet. Walleye are in similar areas as the stripers, hybrids and whites. They have been catching quite a few walleye in 30 feet of water vertical jigging, but the majority of the fish are short.
Lou added that he and his wife hosted a family reunion for her side of the family and they had a great time with 29 family members, and he had the opportunity to fish with many different family members during the week. They had a lot of fun but did get a little cold at times. They caught fish most days. Lou said it was a real joy watching the ones that don't get to fish often land a fish on their own. “No better feeling than seeing those big smiles and shaking arms.”(updated 11-16-2016) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the cooler nights have finally made the water cold enough to have a lake turnover. It takes about a week for the lake to settle down and the fish get active so by the middle of this week you should lots of top water activity all over the lake. Look on the flats and up the major creek arms for schooling fish. The stripers are still heavily at first light up and past the state line. If it’s foggy, expect lots of action until the fog lifts, then the bite dies. If there is no fog, then the bite is consistent all morning most days. The best bite continues to be 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. We are catching stripers using down lines, weighted floats, and planner boards, the lines are set at 16 feet. My son Sean took out a couple Jeff and Christy that wanted to try striper fishing for the first time. They met at the dock and were fishing in 10 minutes and had strikes right away. It was a foggy morning and the bite was on, they caught four with the biggest being 17 pounds which they released. Once the sun came out it sure slowed down. Sean saw more and bigger schools of stripers but just would not hit. They had a few more bites but all the fun and action was in the fog. Jeff and Christy had a great first time experience and plan on another trip to Norfork. The winter bite will start soon so make your plans on the web with www.FishNorfork.com for everything Norfork Lake! Be sure to read our Fall Striper tactics, the article can be found on the www.NorforkLakeChamber.com website.


North Fork River (Norfork Tailwater)

(updated 11-23-2016) John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake remained steady at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 27.3 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had low levels of generation late in the afternoon with wadable water every day. There has been wadable water every morning on the Norfork as well. 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 an orange egg. At Dry Run Creek, 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.

Buffalo National River

(updated 11-23-2016) 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 11-23-2016) 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.