Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 22, 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 22, 2017.

White River

(updated 11-22-2017) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Happy Thanksgiving to all and now … on to the Christmas season!” The White River below Bull Shoals Dam has been running just at minimum flow most of each day for the last week. Bull Shoals Lake is 6 feet below power pool so we expect the releases to remain very low – that means you can expect great wadable waters for the foreseeable future. The lower level still allows experienced guides and other fishing boat operators to access your favorite fishing holes and also allows for even better viewing of the river bottom and your trout. Be generous to your fellow anglers on the river: Waders, allow boaters to move down the channel safely (that's the only way to get past you and out of your way; boaters, stay clear of lines already in the water and be patient while waders make a clear path for you.
The rainbow fishing continues to be prolific. Try a dark bodied Rooster Tail with a gold spoon in this low water and keep it just above the growth on the river bed; that might mean running it almost on top. Because the browns are spawning you'll have to get their attention using shiny baits and lots of jiggle: irritate them into snapping at you just to get you to move away from them. The mornings have been chilly--come prepared. Stop in for a cup of hot coffee and catch up on the local news.

(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 11-22-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Saturday that during the previous week, they have had a trace, cool temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped a foot to rest at 6.3 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 42.3feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 0.1 feet to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped 0.2 feet to rest at 1.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had some wadable water with light generation. The hot spot remains Rim Shoals. The hot flies are 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 652.97 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 11-22-2017) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said last Saturday that the lake level was at 652 feet msl and the surface water temperature was 62 degrees, give or take, depending on where you were fishing. The fish are moving around. Some of the creeks have tons of shad in them. If it’s warm in the back, then fish the flats. The water temperature is right and there’s a little bit of water coming in and there’s a ton of shad in the back. Those fish are relating to shad, isolated cover, brush piles – so, once you go back there, if the water’s dirty you can go spinnerbait, gold blades, War Eagle spinner. You’ll do fine in the brush piles back there. You want to be 2-10 feet or right off the shoreline or right by the bush, and the last bit of deep water will hold some fish. You can catch them on a jig. Del has been using half-ounce or 5/16-ounce jigs trailing with either a Rage Tail or straight Beaver. When Dell is flipping into cover, he sayd, you catch some of the fish in the middle of the brush piles. Any kind of wood is going to be holding a couple of fish right now. If it gets cold overnight, those fish will move back out early and then they’ll go back in throughout the day. The fish using the channels as they’re moving in and out of the creek are following the old channels and the channel swings. They’re sitting on the transitions of those channel swings, be it bluff rock or big rock, and any of those channel swings seem to be holding a couple of fish. Del is using Rock Crawler or Wiggle Warts in those areas. As for colors the Rock Crawler red crawl is working, green crawl is working as well. With a Wiggle Wart, you want to be parallel the bank, look for the wind and keep the boat relative to the wind in shallow water (10-15 feet). If it’s windy and cloudy you can be right up by the shoreline, he said. Those fish are keyed in on the bigger-size chunk rock of the shore. But don’t be afraid to go into a windblown pocket either. Just keep an eye on the shad, the birds and the wind. Del and other anglers have reported seen a lot of loons and seagulls move in, so if you’re going into the creeks, he says, keep eye out for those birds as they are going to be keyed in the shad. Your points in the back of the creeks are holding more of the drop-shot fish right now. Del is using either Dream Shot or shaky head; just use 5/16-ounce head with a green pumpkin and a Zoom worm, watermelon red, green pumpkin red. The shad-shape worms are working. Those drop-shot fish seem to be anywhere from 26-32 feet to as deep as 40 feet. That bite is not quite hot yet, but as the temperature drops, those fish will start congregating more and more.

K Dock Marina has closed for the season. It will reopen in March.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.15 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 11-22-2017) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says stripers on Norfork Lake continue to feed 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. Tom said he pre-fished Friday on the flat pass Fout Boat Dock and found large schools of stripers and hybrids. What Tom found was large bait balls from 20 feet to the bottom in water depths of 30 feet. You may not see many fish while you are watching your depth finder. This is due to the fish staying inside the bait balls and then coming up in big bunches to feed. Tom had seven live bait rods out with lines set at 15 feet and 20 feet. Tom also had two free lines out with a small split-shot in the back of both about 50 feet. Tom said he was using small shad but large shiners will also work now and thorough to spring. The stripers will continue to feed for winter until the water gets cold enough to drive the shad to deeper water. Tom says he would concentrate on the flats in the mid-lake area. As it gets colder the shad and stripers will just move to their winter feeding grounds around Blue Lady, Float, Bidwell Point and between the bridges. The best places right now are the flat above Blue Lady, Fouts Flat and Bennetts Bayou although Tom says he has received reports of stripers and crappie being caught near the 1C area to the east of Hand Cove Resort and Jordan Marina. Modern gun deer and duck season are now open. 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 11-22-2017) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said fall fishing on Norfork Lake is in full swing. This year has been a typical fall so far, with cold fronts followed by warm fronts and anywhere in between. One of the most important things about fall fishing at Norfork Lake is to be prepared with plenty of warm-layered clothing. Lou has mainly been fishing main lake flats and has been catching every species in the lake. Lou says he’s a creature of habit and continues to use two types of baits: a spoon for vertical-jigging and a blade-type bait. The Kastmaster is his favorite blade bait. He typically fishes the mornings and the bite has been pretty consistent. At daybreak he is finding fish up shallow from 8-20 feet of water. Many mornings he will see seagulls feeding on dead shad that the fish are leaving behind. He starts off casting his Kastmaster into this shallow water to catch the feeding fish. There has been some topwater in the early mornings, but not every day. The best thing about the fall bite is that you never know what species you will be catching. Striped bass, hybrid bass, white bass as well as largemouth and smallmouth bass, walleye and the occasional catfish will all hammer the Kastmaster or spoon at any time. As the morning wears on, the bait will start to migrate out to a little deeper water. Typically by 8 or 9 a.m. the bait is being found in 30-40 feet of water and the fish will be close by. He is finding large schools of fish that are at all depths. This is when he starts using his spoon and will vertical-jig it at the depth of the fish, whether they are suspended at 10 feet or on the bottom at 40 feet. Lou has been fishing on the flats in the Cranfield area, Seward Point and Red Bank area as well as the flats before you get to 6B and 6A in the Fouts and Bennetts areas. He said he’s had credible reports that the afternoon bite for striped bass has been good down south in the Big Creek area as well as back in the Bennetts area.
Lou said, “I am still finding some really nice largemouth bass on the same flats mentioned above. Where I typically find the bass is in the area on the outside ends of the flats where a deep channel is swinging in close to the flat. The water depth has been 28-32 feet of water and this has not changed for the last four weeks. A second area where I found some nice largemouth bass was on a deep bluff line point. I was in 100 feet of water and found bass suspended down 15-20 feet. I was able to pick up a couple nice fish jigging a spoon at their depth. Crankbaits are also picking up some nice fish along bluff lines. I really have not found any consistent topwater action for largemouth, but this is the time of year that they should start coming up in the mornings and late afternoons. The water temperature is close to being in the upper 50s so it should be getting close to jerkbait time.”
He reports the surface water temperature Tuesday morning was in the upper 50s to very low 60s. Norfork Lake is very slowly lowering and sits at 552.27 feet msl. Most of the lake is stained to off color, but still a very good fishing color. Periodic power generation is occurring mainly to maintain the water level. He says they are looking forward to having the Bassmaster Team Championship tournament on Norfork Lake early in December. It should be a fun time for all.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 11-22-2017) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 1.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork experienced 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 after this year’s 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 size 14 sowbugs, size 12 Y2Ks 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 11-22-2017) 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 cooler weather the smallmouths are less active. John’s favorite fly here 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.