Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 15, 2017

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report November 15, 2017.

White River

(updated 11-15-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said rainbow fishing has been excellent the past week, lots of action from a few miles upriver of Cotter down to Crooked Creek. Florescent orange or bright yellow baits, especially under overcast skies, worked well. Shrimp and crawdad tails added to the size of the rainbow; otherwise the trout were average size or smaller. Standard zebra midges attracted some attention and flashy brown Woolly Bugger called several rainbows to the boat. Leave your streamers at home. Keep angling and we'll see you on the river.

(updated 11-8-2017) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river level is normal, with two generators running. Fishing was good. Rainbows were biting PowerBait, Rooster Tails and pink worms.

(updated 11-15-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week, they had just a trace of rain in Cotter, cool temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 0.8 feet to rest at 5.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.2 feet to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.2 feet to rest at 1.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water with light generation. 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 ruby midge suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 653.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

K Dock Marina said

(updated 11-8-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says said last weekend that the lake was at 655 feet msl, the water temperatures were about 64 degrees. By afternoon you can still find 68 d egrees depending on where you're at in the lake. It appears like the lake is through turning over. Del talked with some scuba divers who said that everything has evened out. The shad are moving, most of the bait has moved into the creeks. If you're fishing the make lake, guys are still bottom-bouncing for walleyes, trolling a little bit, and chasing the perch in the main lake points, secondary points, 28-34 feet is what he has been told. As far as bass fishing, they had a major cold front come through last week and Frirday it was 80 degrees. Del had a fishing trip Friday morning and caught a lot of fish, he said. It was windy, you get in the wind and just keep the trolling motor down and keep moving. If it's windy like Friday, you wanted to be in the wind. If you got out of the wind the bite was gone. So wind is really key this time of year. As far as the baits that have been working, Del says he's covering a lot of water and starting to p ick up a few fish on the wiggle wart. The spinnerbait is working. With the spinnerbait, you want to have a little bit of muddy water and wind. Also, the squarebill has worked. Del has been fishing relatively shallow, the deepest he's been fishing is 10 feet, he said. There is a little bit of deep bite setting up that seems to be on the secondary points, in the creeks that have the long points that go way out. Those points that have brush on th em and 28-32 feet of water, you're going to see fish and you'll catch them. You can use a shad-style bait, a Roboworm, things like that. They secondary pattern Del is running, he said, is he's going into these creeks and is fishing the channel swings, the deeper, 45-degree banks with the big, nasty rocks. Not so much the bluffs straight up and down but those bigger-than-football-size rocks. Those areas seem to be holding fish. If you fish that pattern in the main lake or close to the main lake, you will pick up some smallmouth bass. As you move into the creeks, it will be more largemouth. As the day warms up, you can get in the back of the flats and throw a squarebill around. Keep the topwater baits tied on. The Whopper Plopper bite has slowed down. That's been sporadic. Del said he expects that to come back a little bit, especially if the lake gets back into having 70 degree air temperatures this week. If you do get in the back and hit the channels wings, you can catch fish on a beaver-style bait or a jig. Del said he prefers the skirted jig if the water is dirtier. It's a bigger profile bait and will get you a little bigger fish. Del believes the fish up the lake are in a little better pattern than they are on the south end. The biggest thing this time of year, he said, is just to keep moving, keep the trolling motor down and don't be afraid to turn your hat around.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.58 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 11-15-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says Stripers on Norfork Lake are now feeding during the day on flats in the 30 foot range. There are large schools of shad roaming the flats and the stripers are cruising within the shad. I pre-fished Thursday and Friday near Reynolds Island in Big Creek and found stripers feeding mid-morning. The first day I fished in waters that were 40 to 50 feet deep and caught multiple stripers and hybrids. The next day I went back and could not find any fish there. I fished the area until 10:30 and then decided to move up on the flat near 1C and found lots of bait. We started catching stripers after 11 am and had 2 limits in 45 minutes. I thought I had it figured out so on Saturday I started out at 7 am on the flat and did not have a bite until 12 pm and then we only caught 3 stripers by 1:30 pm. What I learned was the stripers were feeding later in the day and each day the bite started about a hour later. Saturday we started fishing at 10 am and broke off one right away, then had to wait until almost noon to catch another. The bite picked up and we caught our limit by 2 pm and broke off another and loss 1 at the boat. The 1C area in Big Creek is good but wait until the sun is up and start fishing there after lunch. The other hot spots are Cranfield Island flat, the flat by Blue Lady and the Fouts area. In those areas the bite is during the morning. Stripers. whites, and a few walleye are being caught on spoons and shad. Two other areas to look are the Twin Coves, and Red Bank flats.
Modern gun deer season is now open. This coming Saturday, duck season opens. So November is the best month for the Arkansas sports person. If you do not have a place to deer or duck hunt give STR Outfitters a call. They offer guided deer, duck and pheasant hunting trips.

(updated 11-8-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been fun for many of their guests over the last week. Whether fish are big or small, it is always fun to be out on the lake and reel in a fish. Fall has arrived with its varying weather patterns, which seem to change daily, 80s one day and the next in the 40s and 60s. It seems that the cooler the weather, the better the fish bite. Over the last week Lou says he has seen a big change in the location and the size of the fish. The bigger fish are starting to move in. Striped bass fishing has been mediocre for the last several days, but Tuesday most of the resort guests caught a few hybrids and/or stripers. This may be the sign that the stripers are finally coming out of their deeper habitat and are wanting to feed. At the beginning of last week Lou saw the bait migrate back into the creeks. Lou found large schools of striped bass and hybrid bass back in Float Creek as well as back in Bennetts Bayou. The massive amount of bait has since moved out of Float and are back on the flats. The main lake flats are typical locations for stripers at this time of year. If you are looking on one of the flats, concentrate your efforts in 30-50 feet of water. This is not to say the striped bass will not be up in 20 feet or less of water feeding at night or very early in the morning. The bite for Lou’s group of guests has started after sunrise and starts to slow by late morning. Vertical-jigging a spoon has been the bait of choice for most. Once the fish are found, a blade-type bait such as a Kastmaster has been working well. Swimbaits with at least a 1/2-ounce jighead on it to help it sink should also produce some nice fish. Casting out an Alabama rig produced some nice hybrids and white bass for one of Lou’s guests last weekend.
Lou says white bass have been really plentiful this year. There are mixed sizes of fish in the schools, from 8 inches long up to the monster 14-plus-inch fish. This species can be found on the same flats as the stripers. You will find school after school of whites, then all of a sudden the stripers and hybrids will show up. Over the last week it has been possible to catch 50-60 fish of all sizes in a very short period of time which is a blast. I have been vertical jigging a 3/4-ounce spoon for all species. Also, crappie fishing is still good. They are on the top of and inside of brush piles in 25-40 feet of water. Artificial baits are working well, but live minnows are working the best for the biggest numbers of fish. Catfish are being caught on jugs using nightcrawlers and live threadfin shad. Some good sized fish are being caught. Walleye can be found on the same flats as the stripers and the whites; in fact, you have a great chance of catching all species in the lake fishing the flats once you find the bait and energetic and hungry fish. Lou had a guest walleye fishing over the weekend and he had good success casting a Flicker Shad to the shoreline on the shallower banks. Most of his fish bit when his bait was to about 15-20 feet deep. He also caught a few on jerkbaits close to shore in the late afternoon. This may be the start of the night bite for walleye and possibly striped bass.
Lou adds that bass fishing has been good and they are being found in all the different types of locations. Lou has found large schools of largemouth bass and spots feeding on the flats in 28-33 feet of water. They are also being caught along the deep bluff lines hugging the rocks in 15-25 feet of water. Head back into the backs of creeks in the shallow water – as long as the bait is in the area, the bass will be feeding. A few afternoons ago one of the resort’s bass fishing guests got into some nice topwater action for big largemouth bass. They had a blast for about 45 minutes casting topwater baits. For the afternoon bass fisherman, check out the shadow side of docks; there has been some really nice sized fish caught under Lou’s dock, he said. The lake level is holding fairly stable with minimal power generation and currently sits at 552.96 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature has been fairly constant for the last couple of days at around 65 degrees. Lou expects to see this water temperature drop over the next couple of day with the cool nights in the forecast. The overall lake is starting to clear, but you will still see a slight stain in the creeks, as well as parts of the main lake.
The Bassmaster Team Championship will be held on Norfork Lake the beginning of December. It will be exciting to see how these expert fishermen attack the late fall/early winter bass fishery. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort still has some cabins available for the tournament, so give them a call at 870-492-5113.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 11-15-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had light generation and significant wadable water. The water is stained and the lake is turning over resulting in low dissolved oxygen. It has fished poorly. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during spring 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 moved 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).
John adds, “When I say Norfork, I am referring to the Norfork Dam tailwater. Technically it is the North Fork of the White River. The 4 1/2 miles of river from Norfork Dam to its confluence with the White River (the tailwater of Bull Shoals Dam) is the Norfork tailwater. It is our true blue ribbon trout stream. Let us not forget that it produced a world-record brown trout several years ago (38 pounds, 7 ounces).
“It is my absolute favorite stream. I first fished it about 35 years ago and it was love at first sight. I generally fish it as often as I can. While I say that I fish the White River to catch large numbers of trout, I fish the Norfork to catch larger trout. Every time I fish the Norfork I expect to land a trophy. Early this year it was fishing very well. Then a catastrophe occurred. This April, we had a 100-year rain on the North Fork of the White. The stream was ravaged. The flooding and the damage were intense. Tons of sediment and organic matter were washed into Norfork Lake. The debris field on the lake was huge and took months to clear. The high lake levels required all of the flood gates at Norfork to be opened resulting in severe flooding on the Norfork tailwater. Several docks were washed away and the river was scoured.
“The Norfork was greatly changed. There was heavy gravel recruitment where there had been deep bedrock runs. There are now deep bedrock runs where there used to be a gravel bottom. There was severe erosion at numerous locations along the river. Several spots that were famous fishing locations were unrecognizable. The standard joke was, why should you hire a guide, they don’t know any more than you do.
“Now over seven months after the flood the water is still severely stained from all of the silt that was washed into the river. This is worse than when we had the debacle of Norfork Overlook Estates, where a developer scalped the side of a mountain allowing the siltation of the Norfork on a monumental level. Just like that incident, this will be around for a long time.
“To make matters worse, all of the organic matter that was washed into the lake has been breaking down and consuming oxygen in the process. This is commonly referred to as a lake turnover. As a result, you can detect a strong smell of sulfur on the upper river near the dam. It also caused low levels of dissolved oxygen which has a disastrous effect on the trout.
“My wife, Lori, and I have fished it a few times here of late with poor results. First of all we had a lot of trouble wading. The river was so stained that we could not see the bottom and therefore we were not sure of our footing. This was made worse by the fact that the stream bed was so changed from what we had become accustomed to. We hardly recognized it. Then with the low oxygen the bite was slow. We caught very few trout and we both considered the day a total bust. We were both glad that we were not guiding.
“There is not much we can do about the situation. Mother Nature is a powerful adversary and this situation will not clear up until we have some major rain to flush the lake and river to remove the sediment and clear everything up.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 11-15-2017) 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.