Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report
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.
(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
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.
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.
(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
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