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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 4, 2017

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report October 4, 2017.

White River

(update 10-4-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said fluctuations in the water levels below Bull Shoals Dam have challenged the anglers, including professionals. They've seen a few mornings with fairly low water, almost wadable, then a couple of days of higher levels making drift fishing a priority. On low water, shrimp and PowerBait have been the go-to baits again for good sized rainbows; anchor over a deeper hole and drop your line –you won't have to wait long. The browns have been more skittish, but will nibble at a sculpin if drifted at mid-depth or lower. While drifting worms (red worms or bubblegum pink), they saw a few days of brook trout catching, but the catch has slowed. Come to the river – you can't catch a trout from your office desk.

(update 10-4-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water clarity was has a green tinge to it. The river level is low. There have been two to eight generators running the past week. The trout bite is fair to good. Rainbow reports were good. Don’t expect much on the brown trout bite based on the bad reports from the past week.

(update 10-4-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said late last week that for the previous seven days they had no rain, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 1.8 feet to rest at 0.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 34.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.3 feet to rest at 0.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 1.9 feet to rest at 0.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 8.3 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had no wadable water with moderate generation. Norfork Lake fell 1.5 feet to rest at 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had moderate generation and no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are now at or below the top of power pool. We should expect wadable water in the near future. 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. 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 size 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 14 prince nymph 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 659.41 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(update 10-4-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says anglers are still catching some walleye. The magic numbers seems to be 28-32 feet, either trolling or bottom bouncing the main lake or the main lake points. The lake level is still at 660 feet msl, about 1 foot or 1.5 feet over the normal summer pool. The Army Corps of Enginees has been dropping it and dropping it and they've just starting slowing down the generation the last couple of days. The water is dirty in a lot of places, there has been a lot of changes going on in the lake. Del says they still have bushes in the water, which he says is great. The fish are waiting in the bushes, and it's that time of year when you're going to have to work for them. Some days it's a feast and the next day it's a famine. So, as you go through, just keep in mind, don't stay in one place, cover some water and you'll catch some fish. It's the junk fishing time of year, he says. As these fish are following shad into the creeks, try to cover water using a buzzbait or a squarebill. With a squarebill, Del says, he's been keying in on the flats in the backs of creeks, in the shallower areas. It's the time of year you've got to go into the backs and see if the fish are there. If they are there, you can hang out, have a topwater tied on. On a bluebird day, in the middle of the day, they'll start blowing up. The colors to use are going to change depending on where you're at. Del says he's going with more natural colors if the water clears up a bit. Rightn ow there's a lot of dirty water in the lake, so bone has been working. For the Whopper Plopper, he says, what a fun bite there is now! Just parallel along the outsides of the bushes, and try to find some wind. That will help you key in on some of those fish. Del said he did notice that a lot of the fish he's catching had big 4-inch, 5-inch tentacles hanging out of their stomachs, so he's moved to the bigger jig and has started to catch more fish on it. They're not afraid of that. The crawdads in Bull Shoals get fairly large so don't be afraid to throw that big jib this time of year. Another tool that Del is using, if it is super windy and with wind and clouds, is throwing the spinnerbait. The color will depend on the water. But the Sexy Mouse is working, or try whatever your favorite bait for dirty water is and go with that. If it clears up and maybe gets really stormy, you might throw a spinnerbait and you'll catch a few on that. The weather is getting very nice and these fish have been going through a lot of changes. The lake has seen hot weather and cold weather and that's pushed the fish around. Anglers just have to get out there, he says. You'll work for them but you'll get them.

(update 9-27-2017) K Dock Marina said the lake is almost back to seasonal pool of 661 to 659 feet msl. The boat launch is now being used by a small number of people with access from the top of the bluff on Warren Road and Parksley Lane. All species are still very slow. Lake conditions should be back to normal, and walleye, bass and Crappie can get back into normal pre-fall patterns. Surface water temperature was 76 to 78 degrees. Water is stained.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 554.50 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(update 10-4-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is trying to cool down a little. For the second time in the last month the lake surface temperature has dropped to around 76 degrees in the early morning. If this cooldown continues it will help energize the fish and help make the fall bite take off. The striped bass bite for Lou, he says, is good one time out and nonexistent the next. Tuesday was one of those good days, but Lou said he was having difficulty getting a good hook set and when he did have a good fish on he was breaking off. “I guess I still need more practice,” he joked. “I was fishing with live thread fin shad. I managed to land five striper/hybrids, but should/could have had many more.” All but one hybrid were released. The bite started around 5:15 a.m. and lasted until about 7 a.m. He was fishing in 25-35 feet of water and the fish were at all depths. Lou said one of his trolling guests is starting to pick up a few nice stripers later in the mornings in 100 feet of water. The fish are still 25-30 feet down. When you find shad in the deep water, there more than likely will be some stripers hanging close by.
Lou says the crappie bite is still decent, but not great. There are crappie on brush in 23-30 feet of water and the fish are anywhere from 8 feet down to the bottom. You just need to keep fishing different depths until you find the level where the fish are feeding. Lou has found some big white crappie scattered on the big sandy flats. A live minnows on a slip bobber is a great method, but jigging a small hair jig or a spoon has also been working. Walleye are scattered though out the lake and are shallow before dark, then in about 25-30 feet of water the rest of the time. Crawler harnesses with a bottom bouncer or a drop-shot rig are working very well. Lou landed a nice 22-inch walleye on a live minnow in 27 feet of water Tuesday. Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass are also scattered though out the lake. There are a lot of smaller fish on brush piles (great spawn the last two years). Lou has been finding the larger fish in about 28 feet of water lying on or close to the bottom along bluff lines and also close to bluff line points. Lou has been vertical-jigging a spoon looking for walleye when he runs across big bass. Drop-shot rigs with a jig or plastic crawler should also work. Lou has also noticed many suspended fish 10-20 feet down along the bluff lines. He has caught some of these fish with my spoon, but most are small, with a few bigger fish mixed in. There has been some topwater feeding going on early in the morning and then again at sunset. All sizes of fish are feeding at this time when you run across this action. Catfish are also at this same 25-35 feet depth. Tuesday Lou landed two really nice channel cats while striper fishing, he said. “They really do not want to come off the bottom once you get them hooked. Lots of fun.” He says, “I guess in a nutshell the bite is basically the same or very similar to my last report and I don't expect much change until the water cools down into the 60s. There are many fish that can be caught at this time, but you do have to work for them. Work (hahaha) that is what I tell my wife when I head out to go fishing. I am going to work!”
Lake level is falling slowly, close to 2 inches per day with slight power generation. The current level is 554.68 feet msl. The main lake is somewhat clear, but the creeks and coves are stained. The current surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 76.5 degrees.

Norfork Tailwater

(update 10-4-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.5 feet last week to rest at 0.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.5 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had moderate generation and no wadable water. The water is stained. It fishes well one day and poorly the next. Navigate this stream with caution as things changed a bit during the 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). 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(update 10-4-2017) 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. John’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.