Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 11, 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 11, 2017.

White River

(update 10-11-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the tailwaters below Bull Shoals Dam and through Cotter are running low after a long period of high water. Both the anglers and the trout are adjusting to the new water level, and the rainbow catch has been phenomenal. You'll be able to bring in some healthy, brightly colored trout with spinners with gold blades (try your favorite Panther Martin), 1/8-ounce jigs with white, white-gray or orange-black skirts, garlic-flavored yellow or pink PowerBait and shrimp. Keep your midges tied on if you're casting flies: ruby midges and others (red/silver, black/silver), and Copper Johns were a hit over the last week or two. October is turning out to be a perfect month to be on the river: cool nights, warm days, and fall colors blooming. Come visit.

(update 10-11-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water is clear and the river level is normal. There have been 1-2 generators running this past week. The trout bite overall is good. The week has been very good for rainbows. Anglers were reporting good catches using PowerBait and drift bait. It’s also been a good week for browns. Use stick baits.

(update 10-11-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they have had a trace of rain, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 1.6 feet to rest at 0.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.3 feet to rest at 0.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 1.4 feet to rest at 0.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 9.7 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had no wadable water with moderate generation. 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 14 prince nymph suspended below it). Use lots of lead and long leaders to get your flies down.
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.
John says September was a fairly slow month for him in the fly-fishing guide business. The perpetual high water has kept a lot of anglers from coming up to fish our rivers. That has been a bit surprising to him because, through all the high water we have had, the fishing has been consistently good. On all of his guide trips during this time, his clients have caught plenty of trout, and had the added bonus of plenty of river to fish with little pressure. His wife, Lori, and John had some great days on the water fishing on their own in the last month, he said. The extra time allowed him to finish enclosing hbis front porch and complete a few furniture refinishing projects that have been sitting around his shop for a while, he said. That’s likely to change soon, though, he added. “With the promise of low water, Lori and I have picked up several bookings for October for clients on the White and Dry Run Creek.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 658.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(update 10-11-2017) K Dock Marina said they have finally reached normal pool of 659 feet msl. Water is very stained but all species of fish are really starting to hit. Water temperature is still 75-78 degrees, which is really warm for October. They need this to drop for some good fall fishing. Of course, some rain would help. Got some good crappie reports this week, finally. The fish are over brush piles in coves. Bass are getting better on topwater plugs and jigs. Also large crankbaits, white or anything with chartreuse due to the murky water conditions. Walleye are much better trolling medium to deep crankbaits and dragging nightcrawlers. Crappie are hitting live minnows and chartreuse plastics. See a pattern here? Throw a chartreuse-colored jig, craw or crankbait. Shad are schooling by the millions around the lake. These fish have a lot to eat after the April flood. Keep casting! Find the shad and you’ll find the big fish under them. Also, the boat launch is now available at K Dock; it was out since the middle of April.

(update 10-11-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says water temperature Sunda was 67 degrees. They are getting some of those cooler nights, and the lake is finally starting to cool down a little bit. The fishing is kind of the same deal of what it's been, he said. There is bait everywhere. There’s shad in up the water column and that is what Del has been targeting with some shad-style baits off the bottom. Anglers are catching some walleye bottom-bouncing in the 28- to 30-feet range. As for bass fishing, depending on the day Del is putting trolling motor down and covering ground. You’ll run into them, he says, you just have to stick with it. Del says he has been keying in on bushes. If the water is flat, he likes to throw a frog in there, or a buzzbait. A buzzbait will get you a little bigger fish. If it’s real windy, cloudy or nasty, or front moving in, anglers are catching them on the Whopper Plopper. That’s a lot of fun, Del notes. If you get into open water, you better have a topwater, walk-the-dog style bait tied on. Folks are catching a few on the Sammy or a Gunfish. You can throw a Zara Spook. If the fish blow up on you, you can throw a fluke in there, or a throwback bait if they’re not quite committing to it. Del has been using a Keitech along the outside of the bushes. The deepest he's been fishing is 15 feet. With a lot of the bait being up in the water column, you’ve got the fish suspended right outside the bushes or in the bushes. If it’s flat and sunny, go key in on some of the shade, the docks and the points. The point fish are ambushing the shad as they come through. Pay attention to the generation, though, as the generation has slowed down. The Army Corps of Engineers has stopped running the big water out of the river, so that’s affected the point bite. If fish come across laydowns, Del is picking up the jig, and the type of bank he's throwing on is a laydown along the bushes, or if he's in the main creek channel and there is a little bit of wind and little bit deeper bank, you need that bigger chunk style rock. That’s going to have couple of fish on it, too. It’s that time of year to put the trolling motor down and go for it. Some days are going to be better down others. The crankbait bite will be here before you know it. The topwater, Bull Shoals Lake still has a lot of topwater fish to catch, he says.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 553.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(update 10-11-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said cappie and bass are biting exceptionally well on Norfork Lake. The last month has been one of the best crappie bites Lou has seen in quite a while, he says. The crappie have schooled on sunken brush and are at all depths, depending on the depth of the brush. Lou has a couple of sunken trees where he has been fishing that has branches that are only 10 feet under the surface, and other brush piles are coming up to about 20 feet. Most of the time he is catching the crappie on the top of the brush no matter of the depth. He has been jigging a quarter-ounce spoon (white with a green back), but others are jigging with a hair jig or little grubs with a twister or paddle tail. Live crappie minnows with a slip float are also working really well. Lou is catching very few short crappie, but the majority of the fish are just in the 10-12 inch range. One of Lou’s guests did land a nice 14-inch crappie last weekend.
Largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass are starting on their fall feed. They are feeding on small minnows as well as crawdads. Tuesday morning, Lou said, he was vertical-jigging with a spoon along a bluff line in 20-30 feet of water and ran across a small school of smallmouth bass lying on the bottom. Lou marked the fish with his depth finder and then they starting attacking his small 1/4 spoon. Lou ended up landing three very nice smallies; they sure are a lot of fun to battle on a light weight rod with 6-pound test, he said. Lou also landed several other small largemouth bass in the same type of area. One of his guests this morning, for a hour, caught largemouth and spotted bass in 30-32 feet of water on a large flat area. His fish were feeding on crawdads. He was vertical-jigging with a half-ounce spoon. Last week Lou had a family out bass fishing; their son had lots and lots of fun landing many bass. His best bait was a Texas rigged worm worked along a bluff line. His fish were coming out of 15-25 feet of water and most on the bottom.
Striped bass fishing is still off, at least for Lou, but with the upcoming cooler weather, he says he believes anglers will see some activity in this species over the next couple of weeks. He did get into some feeding hybrids last Friday in 18 feet of water several hours before sunrise. The striped bass are still scattered though out the lake waiting for a water temperature that makes them feel good. The surface water temperature is holding around 76 degrees in the early morning and rises a few degrees with the heat of the day. Cooler weather is on its way, so Norfork should start seeing a steady fall in water temperature over the next week. The lake level has reached normal pool and generators are being run sporadically to maintain this level. The stabilization of the lake should help improve the bite for all species. The creeks and coves are stained and the main lake appears to be clearing to clear.

Norfork Tailwater

(update 10-11-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 0.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had moderate generation and no wadable water and the water was 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 brown trout have begun moving in for the spawn. 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 10-11-2017) 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.