Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 18, 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 18, 2017.

White River

(updated 10-18-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Jigs, jigs and jigs. If you didn't think jig fishing was a successful method to catch trout, think again. It's all in the wrist – with the right action, we've been pulling in really nice, fat rainbows and a good share of cutthroats.” They suggest trying the white on white, 1/8-ounce jigs that worked last week, the brown and orange skirted jigs with dark heads, and the white and gray skirt, silver jighead. The water level is holding steady at about on unity, or 3,300 cfs. Garlic-scented PowerBait has lured in lots of trout for the wade/bank anglers. It's the time of year to switch to orange, white and/or sunrise colors for your egg pattern flies or PowerBait. The brown bite continues to be slow. Add a few sculpins to your bait bucket and remember that you're on the river, not at work or stuck in traffic. Enjoy the wait.

(updated 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.

(updated 10-18-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said late last week that they have had no measurable rain, cooler temperatures and heavier winds over the past week. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 0.8 feet to rest at a foot below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 37 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.2 feet to rest at 0.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 14.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.3 feet to rest at 0.4 feet below seasonal power pool and 19 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, they had some marginally wadable water with light generation. Norfork Lake fell 0.5 feet to rest at 0.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.4 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, they had light generation and reliable water to wade. 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 power pool. Anglers should expect wadable water in the near future.
Hopper season continues on the White. 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 the past week 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 (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 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
John adds, “It finally happened. This week all of the lakes in the White River system are finally below the top of power pool and we are getting more fishable water. If you remember, a couple of months ago I predicted that this would happen, in early or mid-October. It is nice to right every once in a while.
“The water has been much lower this week and I have been on the river every day and the fishing has been nothing short of spectacular. On Sunday, the flows on the White were around 4,500 cfs. I was guiding two gentlemen from Missouri. We rigged up both anglers with a Y2K lead fly and a size 14 pheasant tail nymph dropper. We caught over 40 trout with most of them on the pheasant tail nymph. I started with a ruby midge dropper and we did not hook a fish on it.
“On Monday I had two other anglers from the same group. The generation had decreased to 3,500 cfs, which made for even better fishing. I started out one angler with a ruby midge below a Y2K and the other with a pheasant tail nymph below a Y2K. The ruby midge was working but the pheasant tail wasn’t. What a difference a day makes. I always say the one fish on a fly is a fluke, two is a coincidence and three is a trend. It was time to change the pheasant tail for a ruby midge. Both were soon into trout. We finished the day with 50-plus trout, with 90 percent of them on the ruby midge and a couple of trout on the Y2K. All in all, it was a great day.
“Then on Tuesday I guided an angler from Texas. The generation level was down to 2,800 cfs. This is as low as I have seen the White in some time. This time I started him with a ruby midge below a Y2K. I was surprised when we caught the first two trout on the Y2K. I generally use it as an attractor, with most of my fish caught on the dropper. This day was the exception. I caught more trout on the Y2K than on the ruby midge. I had fished on three successive days and had the trout keying in on a different fly every day. It is no wonder that I carry so many fly boxes.
“During these three days, the Norfork was on the bottom, with absolutely no generation for the majority of the time. Though I love to wade it, I declined because it is still extremely off color from the flooding we had last April. In addition, there is low dissolved oxygen on the Norfork and the fish are stressed, particularly on the upper river. If you choose to fish there, be sure and carefully release any fish caught. We are finally in a position where we can fish lower water. Life is good!”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 657.13 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 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.

(updated 10-11-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says water temperature Sunday, Oct. 8, 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 553.45 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 10-18-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is starting to get real exciting. The fall bite is improving every day and will get better and better as the water cools. The lake is dropping roughly a half-degree a day with this current cool front and Lou said he is looking forward to the lake surface temperature reaching the 60s. All species will become very aggressive and start to feed heavily for the upcoming winter months. Lou is starting to find large schools of feeding fish and they will attack anything that comes in front of them. Striped bass fishing is finally starting to improve. Lou is finding schools as well as scattered fish feeding on the bottom on large flats. Lou says he has been fishing several different flats from the mid-lake area up to the Red Bank area. Tuesday was a little slow with the high pressure arriving after the cool frontal system arrived the other day. Lou says he did manage to find a really nice 31.5-inch striped bass on the bottom that gave him quite a battle. Lou said he didn't think the fish knew he was hooked until he saw the boat, then the excitement started with one run after another. Very healthy and energetic 12- to 13-pound fish. Lou gave him his freedom at his dock after the photo. During the last full moon there was a very early morning (in-the-dark bite), but recently the bite has not started until almost sunrise and Lou is finding feeding fish all the way up to noon or a little after. Lou uses his electronics to find the bait fish, then he starts jigging a spoon off the bottom. Tuesday was a little slow, but the large schools will become increasingly more common as the water cools. Live bait is working very well, either thread fin shad, gizzard shad or shiners. Lou is still using a downline for live bait with a 1- to 2-ounce weight, a 3- to 4-foot leader and a small No. 4 size hook. A larger hook should be used if you have the bigger gizzard shad. Match the hook size to the bait. Lou has mainly been vertical-jigging with a half-ounce to three-quarter-ounce spoon. All colors seem to be working as long as the predominant color is white, Lou’s favorite color is white with a chartreuse back. Feeding alongside the striped bass are the hybrids, white bass, largemouth bass, spotted bass, walleye and catfish. You never know what you are going to catch when you are jigging a spoon. “:I think this is why I like fishing this method so much,” he said.

Crappie fishing is still good. Find brush in 25-35 feet of water and the fish will be on the top of the brush or buried inside of the brush. In the late afternoons the fish may come up in the water column to the warmer water, so start dropping your bait down about 8 feet and keep checking deeper until the fish start to bite. Lou has been using a small quarter-ounce spoons in white/chartreuse, but other colors will work. Small grubs tipped with a minnow will work very well, or just use a minnow with a slip float. The bigger white crappie are finally starting to move into some of the brush. Several 13- to 15-inch crappie have been caught recently, but most of the crappie are in the 10- to 12-inch range, which is a great size to clean and eat.
Bass fishing continues to be pretty good. Lou says he’s done exceptionally well a couple of days. While striped bass fishing on the flats, Lou and his guests have run into large schools of feeding largemouth bass and spotted bass. These have not been the little guys, all have been in the 2.5-to 4-plus-pounds range. Lou has found these fish in about 30 feet of water at all different times of day, from just after sunrise to 2 in the afternoon. Other areas to check out are along bluff walls using jig-and-pigs or Texas rigged worms. Lou had some bass fishing guests in last week and he says they had a blast catching topwater bass up on the Missouri side of the lake. They caught a lot of short fish, but some keepers were in feeding with the little guys. Crankbaits are also producing a lot of bass, but many are short fish.
Norfork Lake level has been stable for the last week and Tuesday was at 553.44 feet msl. Sporadic power generation is being used to maintain this level. The current level is a little under normal seasonal pool. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 73 degrees and the lake temperature is falling slowly due to the current cooler weather. The main lake is clear to partly stained and the creeks and coves are stained. Great fishing conditions for all species and a perfect time to take that much needed lake fishing vacation.

(updated 10-18-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says the fall fishing bite on Norfork Lake has finally begun. Stripers, walleye, crappie, black bass and white bass are now feeding heavy. The bass and white bass are chasing young shad and can be caught on small topwater baits, small spoons and swimbaits along the bluffs and the flats. The crappie are stacked on brush piles that are at least 20 feet deep. The walleye have moved up in the Udall area and feeding on small shad. The same is true for Big Creek past Reynolds Island. The stripers are being caught on Robinson Point before light using threadfin shad and up past the state line on shad and trolled crankbaits. The stripers are in their fall pattern. Robinson Point is the early bite on the main lake before light. The best time starts around 5 a.m. and will last until the sun comes up. The upper end of Norfork Lake is producing the most fish. Anglers are catching stripers from first light into the afternoon using gizzard shad. Multiple limits of stripers with some over 20 pounds are being caught by Tom’s groups, he said. The walleye have begun their fall feed. On Tom’s last trip, he said, they caught four keepers and lost many more. Right now is the time to book your walleye trip or get out and troll Shadraps and swimbaits in 10-30 feet of water above the state line. The hot spots for crappie is the Fout area and near 1C in Big Creek. The crappies are biting on minnows, small spoons and jigs on brush piles in 20-30 feet of water.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 10-18-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the water remains stained and it fishes well one day and poorly the next. Last week, the Norfork was on the bottom with absolutely no generation for the majority of the time. Though John says he loves to wade it, he declined last week with groups he hosted because it is still extremely off color from the flooding last April. In addition, there is low dissolved oxygen on the Norfork and the fish are stressed, particularly on the upper river. If you choose to fish there, be sure and carefully release any fish caught.
Navigate this stream with caution as spring flooding led to 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. 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

(updated 10-18-2017) 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.