Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 6, 2017

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report September 6, 2017.

White River

(update 9-6-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said if you're waiting for perfect weather to go fishing, now's the time to fish the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks. If you're waiting for a catch of fat rainbows, now's the time to fish the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks. Although they are still experiencing continual generation from Bull Shoals Dam, the catch has been plentiful and healthy – quick bites on Berkley pink worms, sometimes tipped with shrimp. Try salting your shrimp supply to keep your bait in place longer. Still good opportunities for experimenting with your larger rogues and stick baits. You'll want to keep several colors of PowerBait on hand – yellow, orange, pink and sunrise are good to have – and change up your bait if you don't get a hit soon enough. Use gold spoons and white bodies when selecting spinnerbaits. Most of all, keep fishing! See you at the river.

(update 9-6-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water level is high and there are six to seven generators running 24/7. A few rainbows were caught in the past week but the catches were in high water. Otherwise, fishing is very slow. Sportsman’s rates it fair for the week.

(update 9-6-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they have had a rain event (just a trace of rainfall in Cotter), unseasonably cool temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 2.9 feet to rest at 12.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 21.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.3 feet to rest at 0.4 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.7 feet to rest at 5.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 3.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had no wadable water with heavy generation. Hopper season is here. Many guides are banging the bank with grasshopper patterns. Add a nymph dropper (ruby midge) to increase takes. If the grasshopper is hit or sinks, set the hook. John’s favorite grasshopper pattern is a Western Pink Lady. The hot spot on the White 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 (sized 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John’s current favorite is a size 14 bead-head pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge suspended below it). Use lots of lead and long leaders to get your flies down.

John also said, “This year the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is updating the Trout Management Plan for the White and Norfork rivers. The plan was last updated about 10 years ago. The first public meeting was held a few weeks ago at the Vada Sheid Center at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home. I attended and we were asked what we disliked and liked. Based on those likes and dislikes the AGFC put together a number of proposals for regulation changes that will affect our trout fisheries. Two weeks ago the AGFC had another meeting where the agency presented these proposals and the public was able to vote for their favorites. I was there. The first thing that I noticed is that there were about half of the number of attendees that were there for the first meeting.

“Second, there was a question-and-answer period for each proposed change where the public was allowed to ask questions and make comments. The format of the first meeting did not allow for this. I was intrigued by some of the comments and was amazed by others. Several attendees complained about blue herons and the number of trout that they ate. One attendee suggested a bounty on them. It was noted by an AGFC employee that blue herons are a federally protected species.

“Most of the proposed regulations related to protecting rainbow, brook and cutthroat trout on the White and Norfork rivers. At the first Trout Management Plan meeting it was noted the regulation limiting the harvest of brown trout to those trout 24 inches or larger had been a great success and the public wanted similar regulations protecting other species, particularly the rainbows. We are just not catching larger rainbows, brook trout and cutthroats. There were several proposed regulations for each species and we were asked to vote on our favorite.

“I was glad to see more restrictive regulations on these species but did not think they went far enough except for a proposed change to protect all cutthroats under 24 inches. I think a similar regulation on brook trout is called for. My big disappointment was the proposed changes on rainbows. The propose changes centered on allowing anglers keep one rainbow over 14 inches and another proposal for keeping one 16-inch trout. There were also proposals allowing the angler to keep two such trout. I would rather see a regulation calling for rainbow trout between 14-24 inches to be released.

“Other proposed regulations concerned catch-and-release sections. The AGFC recommended closing the Monkey Island section because it is not working. I agree. The section in the state park below the Bull Shoals catch-and-release section is closed from November through January to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The section below that is seasonally catch and release during the same period. The AGFC wants to simplify the regulations and make both sections in the state park seasonal catch and release. This sounds logical.

“The AGFC had the University of Arkansas study the catch-and-release section at Rim Shoals. The study concluded that the section was too small and should be enlarged to make it more effective. They recommended a 1-mile extension upstream or a 2-mile extension downstream. I fish at Rim Shoals more than any other piece of water in the area. I totally support either of these proposals. It will be interesting to see how this all turns out.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 670.41 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(update 8-23-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said they’ve still got 23 extra feet of water in the lake. The Army Corps of Engineers is bringing it down. The fishing is starting to pick up pretty good this week. Del said they had some weather move in and the cold nights have got the fish moving around quite a bit. They’re schooling really hard. “I’m going to let the cat out of the back,” Dell said, saying that he’s starting to catch them really shallow. The baitfish is starting to move in to the backs of some of the creeks that have runoff coming into them. If you can find a temperature change of a degree or two, those areas will be better than the ones that are more pockets. There are threadfins back there, there are gizzards back there. Del says that’s the hot bite he likes, catching them back there. He’s used a squarebill, just burning it through 0-4 feet of water; he says it “seems like you have to bump that thing into something to get bit. “There are a lot of what they call bushes that are out on the flats now, and he’s starting to pick up a few fish on a frog. The topwater bite seems like it’s been hit or miss, so you want to have one ready to go. Del says he did pick up a few on the Whopper Plopper. He says he’s not doing so hot on the walk-the-dog style baits; he’s tried Spook or a Sammy and will I’ll pick up a few, but the bigger bite seems to be on the Whopper Plopper. Also, as the fish start to migrate into these creeks, they’re going to use these channels, so wherever that old channel comes up along the bank, you can do right with a jig there. If it’s super windy, throw a War Eagle Spinnerbait, either Blue Shad or Sexy Shad or Mouse, depending on the color of the water – it varies throughout the lake, they’ve had quite a bit of water traffic lately. The clay banks with the boat traffic, those are really dirty, he said. If you get some wind in there, those fish will be in there and you can pull a few out with a spinnerbait. The ledges, 25 feet is about as deep as Del has been having to fish and most of the fish he’s been catching 10-15 feet of water – a lot of times less – he’s throwing a half-ounce Right Bite Jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue, whatever the angler prefers. The NetBait Paca-Craw Senior in either green pumpkin or summer craw, that seems to be getting quite a few fish, he said. When going in the back water areas, because they have a lot of structure in the high water, if you can find the pole timber of the trees, Del will throw a Strike King Rage Tail Structure Bug in there. That will help you pick up a few more fish. Conditions are everything, he says. If you’ve got wind, if you have a quality day, you can power fish with a spinnerbait or topwater. And watch for baitfish. If you get into some fish, you can get right back in there; a lot of times you’ll catch 2-3 fish in the same little area. They’re schooled up pretty hard. Del says he caught two on a squarebill the other day on the same cast. He also likes to cover some water. It seems to be more productive – points, channel swings, not very deep. Smallmouth are out a little deeper. The drop-shot bite has been so intermittent, and the weather is changing, so he says he’s going to stick to the shallow fish. The fishing is going to get even better – these rains come, it cools down, the shorter days, it’s a great time to be on the lake. Water temps are about 84-85 degrees so it’s starting to come down.

(update 8-23-2017) K Dock Marina said the lake is continuing to drop about 4-5 inches per day. This has had a big impact on the number of fish being caught. Fish do not react well to extreme changes in water level. Water color and temp are great, just a slow bite for all species. Live bait working the best right now. Hope to get a better report from some of our anglers after this weekend. Water level is 20 feet above normal as of last weekend. Water temperature ranging 80-82 degrees. Water is clear to stained.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 561.55 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(update 9-6-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says striper fishing has slowed down on Norfork Lake. The oxygen levels are too low to support an active striper bite, therefore the stripers are in survival mode and have quit eating. Tom says he has suspended striper fishing until the water turns colder, which is usually around the beginning of October. Then he will start fishing north toward the Missouri state line because the water is shallower and the fish become more active sooner. Now is the time to chase bass, hybrids, bluegill, and crappie. Don’t waste your time or money chasing stripers. Tom says, “Our last trip we had three boats fishing and between all of us we had one bite.” The hybrids are chasing young shad in the 30-foot water column. Hybrids are not affected by the oxygen so look for them in the late afternoons around the Robinson Point area. They are being caught on topwater with swimbaits along with live shad.

(update 9-6-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the thermocline on Norfork Lake has been slowly dropping and currently is about 30 to maybe 35 feet down, and is holding most fish and bait species to this depth or shallower. If you plan to fish Norfork Lake take note of the thermocline level, as lots of fish will hang at this level. Striped bass is the only species that Lou is aware of, he says, that will go way below the thermocline to reach cold water. There have been some really nice spotted (Kentucky) bass caught over the last week. The bass are being found in two main areas; up in the flooded buckbrush and suspended over deep water close to structure. Lou says he went out bass fishing one morning this week and found some nice bass suspended down 10-20 feet in 60-100 feet of water. Bluff line points and the mid-lake bridge columns are great places to check out. He also went out Tuesday evening for a few hours. There are plenty of bass feeding on shad up in the flooded buck brush. Topwater baits, plastics and crankbaits are all catching nice fish. Live bait has also been doing very well in catching bass.
Tuesday evening Lou found the white bass nursery. “Norfork Lake had a great white bass spawn this year, if what I saw this evening is any indication,” he said. At first the whites were in about 16 feet of water on the bottom, but as the sun was lowering in the sky the whites started busting all over the lake chasing and feeding on tiny shad. “Most of the whites that I found were small, but it was a blast catching one fish after another,” Lou said. He started out jigging a spoon on the bottom, but as the fish starting hitting the surface he switched to a Kastmaster. If this year is like prior years, the big whites will start to show up very soon, he said.
Striped bass fishing has slowed, at least for him, Lou said. He has been striper fishing only about one day a week. He was limiting out each time, until his last trip out on Labor Day. He found a lot of fish down 80-90 feet on the bottom and some suspended in deeper water, but he only got one light bite on his threadfin shad in a 2-hour period. The boat traffic over the holiday weekend may have affected the bite. There have been a few stripers caught suspended down 30 feet over deep water in the dam area, as well as in the mid-lake area. Typically around mid-September the stripers in the dam area start to migrate north for cooler water. More and more stripers will show up in the mid-lake area, as well as up around the Missouri border. The upcoming cooler nights and days will help lower the water temperature, which will benefit all species of fish.
Norfork Lake level is falling about 3-4 inches per day with one generator being run continuously during the day; the lake currently sits at 561.71 feet msl as of Tuesday. The surface water temperature Tuesday evening was 81.5 degrees. The main lake is clear with the creeks and coves stained.

Norfork Tailwater

(update 9-6-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that Norfork Lake fell 1.8 feet to rest at 7.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 16.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had no wadable water and the water stained. It fishes well one day and poorly the next. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. 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). The fishing is better in the morning. Berry’s favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worm with a ruby midge dropper.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. 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/Crooked Creek

(update 9-6-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. With the warmer weather the smallmouths are more active. Berry’s favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.