Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 13, 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 13, 2017.

White River

(updated 9-13-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is at 667 feet and should reach power pool next week, at which time generation from the dam should slow and the White River water level should decrease. The storms in Texas and Florida may impact the power grid so don't put any money down on that prediction, just keep fishing with weighted line, added split shot and heavier sinkers until we see the drop. The rainbow bite has been very nice with good size trout, that are brightly colored and full of fight. Change up your Power Bait or egg pattern colors to keep their interest (move toward peach eggs, orange or sunrise). Green and white 1/8-ounce jigs worked mid-depth to just below the surface have been successful. The standard red/gold hammered spoons and gold Cleos are getting attention again.

(updated 9-13-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is fairly clear and running high with 8 generators going around the clock. Trout fishing is fair by boat, and the high water makes it difficult for any other sort of fishing.

(updated 9-13-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the previous week, they had had no rain, unseasonably cool temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 3.8 feet to rest at 8.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 25.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.3 feet to rest at 0.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.9 feet to rest at 4.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 4.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, there was no wadable water with heavier generation. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below the top of flood pool. Anglers should expect a lot of generation with limited wadable water in the near future. At the current rate of drop, John predicts the lakes reaching power pool in three weeks. Hopper season continues. 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. On the White, 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 (John’s current favorite is a size 10 Y2K with a size 10 pheasant tail suspended below it). Use lots of lead and long leaders to get your flies down.

 

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 666.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-13-2017) K Dock Marina said The lake is continuing to drop about 4 to 5 inches per day.  This has had a big impact on the number of fish being caught right now.  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.

Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no new report.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 559.44 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-13-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says September begins the transition to fall on Norfork Lake. The first half of the month striper fishing will be good but the second half of the month fishing for stripers usually falls off until the weather turns colder and the water begins to cool. The first half of September, you still want to fish the points with long flats and river channels in waters that range from 70 to 100 feet deep. You will see the stripers on or very near the bottom. We use 4- and 5-ounce barrel weights with leaders and put the bait on the bottom then raise it a foot, so the stripers need very little movement to feed on the baits. Gizzard shad are the best baits because they will live longer than the threadfin shad. Some of the best points will be along the dam buoys, Long Point, the river channel along the dam, and Dam Cove. One or more of these points will hold fish in September once you find the fish they will usually be there for a long period of time. Striper fishing usually tails off in the second half of September because of the nature of Lake Norfork. Every year the lake warms up to 90 degrees and the oxygen level gets lower and lower and the thermocline continues to move deeper in the lake. Stripers require 6 parts per million of oxygen to stay active. By the middle of September that level of oxygen is gone down substantially and stripers become dormant and just lay on the bottom not wanting to eat or move to conserve energy. Once the weather cools and the lake start to cool down the oxygen level will start going up but will not return to normal until the lake turns over. The lake turnover is a process that begins at the head waters of Lake Norfork some 47 miles across the Missouri state line and moves down slowly to the dam. The dam area is the last place the lake will turn over since it’s the deepest part of the lake. One way to beat this is start moving your fishing up the lake toward shallower waters. By far this is the best area to consistently catch limits of stripers during the later part of the year. We will be fishing in waters no deeper than 35 feet. You will see lots of bait and stripers feeding heavily on this year's hatch. The bass will still be in their summer pattern: early morning topwater lures, then jigs, worms and spinnerbaits are your best baits. There also is great night fishing throwing jigs, worms and black or red 3/8-oz. spinnerbaits. You can catch fish all over the main lake and creeks. As the water begins to cool the crappie will start moving up and start their fall feed. Spider rigging is the most effective technique to catch them. Brushy Creek and Big Creek, Bennett’s Bayou, Red Bank, Calamity Beach, and Pigeon Creek, will be your best choices.

(updated 9-06-2017) 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

(updated 9-13-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 5.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 19 feet below the top of flood pool. The is no wadable water and the water is 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. John’s favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worm with a pheasant tail dropper (size 10). Dry Run Creek is stained but still 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).

 

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 9-13-2017) 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.