Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 5, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report September 5, 2018.

White River

(updated 9-5-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The White River winds through the Arkansas Ozarks and offers an angler the opportunity to catch more trout than in any other stream in the country. After a week or two respite from the heat, we're experiencing summer's last hurrah in Cotter: hot and humid.” Bull Shoals Lake is 3 feet below power pool and the small amount of water generation from the dam comes late in the afternoon but has fallen before dawn, and water level is near minimum flow amounts all day. Makes for great wade fishing but requires some extra skill and knowledge of the river to keep a jon boat floating. And makes for a great time to catch trout. Sunrise-colored Power Eggs have been a favorite this week for both shore fishers and anglers in boats. The browns are still biting at sculpins and soft-shell crawdads (keep the Rebel Wee Craw handy). The ruby midge has been the go-to fly to tie on. Pull out your hopper flies; the end of August, first of September, is the best grasshopper crop of the year and the trout are looking for them. “Keep anglin' and we'll see you on the river.”

(updated 9-5-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is clear, with minimum flow in the morning and high flow in the evening like it has been for the past couple of weeks. The trout reports have been fair. Anglers are using PowerBait and shrimp. Others are fly-fishing with a Zebra or with spoons.

(updated 9-5-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week, several rain events combined for an inch in Cotter, plus they saw cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady at 3.6 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is 37.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.5 feet to rest at 3.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 17.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at 1.9 feet below seasonal power pool and 10.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had little generation with wadable water every day. Norfork Lake rose 0.2 feet to rest at 3.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 27.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork little generation and wadable water every day. 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. With warmer weather and increased power demand for air conditioning, expect generation in the afternoons and wadable water in the cooler mornings. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. There are still a few sulphurs still coming off. 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 combination is a size 14 Copper John with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down.
John also said, “This Monday my wife, Lori, and I were on our weekly fishing trip. She is the love of my life and my favorite fishing buddy. We had a bit of a late start due to a hearty breakfast and dawdling over coffee. I drove over to the river, rigged the rods and launched the boat. Lori fed and walked the dogs before she joined me. She called me when she arrived at the ramp and I motored over to pick her up. I had done one drift and picked up a nice trout before she got in the boat.
“Lori began with a good streak and landed several while I was struggling. Luckily my luck changed and I began to pick up a few trout. It always seems to me that the flow of a fishing trip goes in streaks. Lori would catch a few then I would catch a few. She hooked a good trout. It fought ferociously and took a run to the bow of the boat. It dove under the drag chain that I was using to help me control my drifts. This happens from time to time. When I have a really big trout on, I will pull the chain in to prevent this from happening.
“This was not Lori’s first rodeo. She moved to the bow of the boat and began to gently pull in the chain in while maintain constant pressure on the trout. The trick is to get the chain untangled without losing the fish. She was doing a great job but I thought she might need a hand. I cranked in my line and laid my rod down on my seat. A bit of the line was hanging down in the water. This is a rookie mistake. The fly dangling down could easily catch a rock or a bit of aquatic vegetation and pull my fly rod into the water. Then I would either lose the rod or spend time diving into rather cool water to retrieve my gear.
“By the time I got to the bow, Lori had brought in the chain and still had good pressure on the trout. I grabbed the boat net and handed it to Lori. She is a guide and is used to netting her own fish. I walked to the stern of the boat and went to pick up my rod so that I could continue fishing. As I reached for my rod, I noticed that the strike indicator went down. I picked the rod up and quickly set the hook. Luckily it was a fat 18-inch rainbow and not the bottom of the river. It was slightly smaller than Lori’s fish. Since Lori’s trout was in the net, when I hooked mine, it was our first double of the day. I brought the trout to my net. It had been a couple of minutes of fast action. Lori had performed a delicate move and landed a nice trout. I got lucky and landed one also.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 657.33 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-5-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake water is starting to cool off, which is helping the fishing. They have 84-degree temperatures as of Wednesday. Del says, “I’d say the biggest bite for the lake has been the walleye. The walleye have been really good this past week.” Anglers are bottom-bouncing from 28-36 feet around main lake points and secondary points. “Everybody seems to be catching them.” As far as the largemouth bass fishing goes, pretty much the early morning topwater bite seems to be on the “moving” baits rather than on poppers or the walk-the-dog style baits. Del says buzzbaits and the Whopper Plopper are working. Some of the shad have migrated into the creeks. He notes that threadfin shad appear headed about halfway to three-quarters back. “I think it’s the rains we’ve gotten that have pulled them back there, and (the Army Corps of Engineers) haven’t been running a bunch of water (at Bull Shoals Dam). The Corps has it at minimum flow.” The Kentucky bass seem to be around the channel swing banks or suspending over trees. There are tons of trees in Bull Shoals Lake, he says. Del adds that “you can never go wrong with a half-ounce football head jig on Bull Shoals Lake. Big worms are also working. Anything with red in it will work.” Crappie are mostly random these days. There are a couple of regular crappie anglers that Del seems often, but he said he hasn’t seen them going out lately.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.24feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-5-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the striper bite continues to be excellent on Norfork Lake. He says, “In fact, on Friday the action was so fast we finished up quickly so I invited a local who fishes by me to come on to my boat. We hooked up the other person’s rod who stayed in their boat and in another 25 minutes they both had their limit of stripers. I limited out the last four days very quickly. Today, Labor Day, my clients were done in 45 minutes. A tourist had been fishing by us the last two days with their grandchildren with no luck. Today it was just Jenna and grandpa so we had Jenna get in my boat and set up grandpa and they both caught their limit of stripers. Jenna caught her three so fast she could not get one in before there was another one on the pole.
“I enjoy seeing these kids’ smiles on their faces when they catch the biggest fish of their lives and now know they can catch fish. Grandpa was smiling ear to ear.”
Tom says the stripers are moving deeper and he’s now catching them in the 70-80 feet range with gizzard shad. “The guys using threadfin shad are catching them but not at the rate we are. Threadfin life span is very short at these depths, so you have to change them out every 5 minutes whereas the gizzards can stay down to up to 20 minutes before you need to change them. When that school comes by the lively bait will always catch more fish,” he said. Spoons are not working right now; the stripers do not want to move much to feed. They are catching some trolling but nothing like live bait is right now. The stripers are now within a quarter- to half-mile of the dam off the points in waters ranging from 70-130. The best bite is after light starting around 6:30 and lasting up to 9 a.m.

(updated 9-5-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said fishing on Norfork Lake has remained consistent over the last couple of weeks. The best bite on the lake has been for striped and hybrid bass. Walleye and white bass are not far behind. “Our fishing guests over the last week have had a great time catching and getting great fights from Norfork Lake's striped bass. I, however, fished (Tuesday) morning with a couple of guests and the bite was way off. We found a lot of fish in 65-75 feet of water. Most were laying on the bottom. We managed to land two nice hybrids and a very nice walleye, and had a handful of other bites which we missed. Very slow morning compared to the last three days.” The best location to find striped bass is near the dam off of points and on the large flats. Large schools of fish are cruising the area, and when you get on them you will typically get a fish. Live bait (gizzard shad, threadfin shad and large shiners) is working the best. Vertical-jigging with a spoon is also generating some nice fish. “As I have stated in the past, if this year is typical to prior years, the striped bass will start their northbound migration during the second half of September.”
Walleye have been showing up consistently in 60-70 feet of water with most found on the bottom. Live bait has been picking up some nice 22- to 26-inch long fish. Spoons are also catching some nice walleye, as is trolling with down-riggers or using inline weights to get the bait down to 50-60 feet of water. “White bass are still coming up all over the lake at different times of day. I have found schools of whites erupting while fishing for striped bass in the dam area. They are also coming up in the late afternoons in the Cranfield area and all the way up to the Red Bank area. The best places I have found for whites are large flats. Look in 25-35 feet of water and if you find bait you will find the whites. Jigging a spoon has worked for me when I find these fish on the flats.” Early mornings and late afternoon have been the best times to find this species either on top or down deeper. The Norfork Lake surface water temperature was 83.5 degrees Tuesday morning and as normal will rise slightly during the sunny part of the day. The lake level is holding fairly stable and currently sits at 552.08 feet msl. The main lake is clear with some creeks and coves stained.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-5-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.2 feet to rest at 3.5 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 27.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork little generation and wadable water every day. 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. With warmer weather and increased power demand for air conditioning, expect generation in the afternoons and wadable water in the cooler mornings. The Norfork has fished very well. There have been some nice midge and sporadic caddis hatches that have provided some limited top water action. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the 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 (size 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 red fox squirrel nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek is fishing much better. 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).

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 9-5-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low. The smallmouths are 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.