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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 20, 2017

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Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report September 20, 2017.

White River

(updated 9-20-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is near desired power pool level but we continue to see heavy generation, so still lots of water feeding our prime fishing spots.  Keep a variety of live bait on board for the browns. Sculpins, red fin minnows and crawdad tails will work very well. Keep your bait close to the bottom and to the sides of the main channel. The rainbows haven't been as picky; we've gotten a great bite with pink worms and mousetails. Add a little garlic-scented PowerBait to the mix for some added attraction. Watch for a decrease in generation in the coming days.

(updated 9-20-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is high with 6 to 8 generators running. Rainbow trout are fair on PowerBait, worms and frozen shad fished from a boat.

(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 663.01 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 557.54 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 9-20-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said fishing is transitioning from summer patterns to fall fishing patterns. The crappie bite has been outstanding, bass bite is good, catfishing has been good, walleye bite is fair and the striper bite for most anglers has been slow. Anglers have been finding crappie on main lake brush piles. The most productive brush piles should be in 35 feet or less of water and the crappie will be inside of the brush and up to the top of the brush pile. As the water warms during the day the crappie are moving up higher in the water column and have been caught as shallow as 8 feet down, but still suspended over the brush or very close to the brush. Small live crappie minnows, called tuffies, are a great bait for catching crappie. Rig up a light action rod with 4-pound test line (clear or green) add a slip float and a small split shot. Set the shot about 2 feet above the bait hook. I typically use a No. 6 to a No. 10 hook with a little longer shank. If you can net your own bait, small threadfin shad are outstanding. For artificial baits, I have been having good success with a ¼-ounce spoon vertical jigging it at the depth where I see the fish or at the top of the brush. Small grubs with a twister tail or a paddle tail are also a great bait to use. I typically use my artificial baits without a float, but for some, adding a slip float may make it easier to find your depth and keep it consistent once you find the depth where the fish are feeding. When using a grub you can always add a small crappie minnow to the hook, which may get you more strikes. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass fishing has been good and appears to be getting better every day. Some bass are showing up on the surface near bluff walls near sundown. Topwater action lasted for about 20 minutes until the sun set below the treeline. Many of the fish coming up are small, but a few decent spotted bass are mixed in. The Wiggle Wart bite has picked up around brush in 8 to 15 feet of water. The largest bass have come from fishing a jigging spoon along bluff lines in 28 to 30 feet of water. Walleye fishing has been fair. The walleye have come out of 28 feet of water either close to brush or close to a main lake bluff line point on a spoon. A bottom bouncer weight with a crawler harness or a drop shot rig with a worm or minnow will also work. Deep-diving crankbaits that will get you down to the 30 feet level should also pick up a few nice fish. Catfish are hanging around the brush piles in 28 to 35 feet of water. I have landed nice-sized flatheads and channel cats vertical jigging a ¾-ounce spoon. Crawler harnesses or drop shot rigs will also pick up some nice fish. Striped bass fishing has been slow. Lou has found stripers on a large flat in the midlake area and landed several fish using live threadfin shad. I found stripers before sunrise in 20-30 feet of water on the bottom feeding. In addition, he have found small schools of stripers about 10 feet down in 20 to 40 feet of water. Norfork Lake level is falling about 3 inches per day with the equivalent of one generator being run and currently is 557.72. This level is only 2 feet above normal seasonal pool. The lake surface temperature is ranging from 77 degrees in the morning to the very low 80's in the afternoon. The mid to upper portion of the main lake is clear to somewhat stained with the coves and creeks 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.