Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 12, 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 12, 2018.

White River

(updated 9-12-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says fall is just around the corner with cooler weather; the lower temperatures, however, haven't lowered the catch of trout. The rainbow and brown bites have remained steady as we move into fall and the fish adjust to the lower water levels. Deeper holes and colder water areas are the best spots to find the trout hiding. In the coldest water just below the dam, several brook trout have been caught, reflecting an improvement in their numbers through the AGFC stocking program. Smaller spoons (silver/blue and gold Cleos) and the silver Blue Fox have been enticing the browns, while crawdads or their imitator: frozen shrimp, have been consistently pulling in rainbows and browns alike. Keep your bait floating just above the bottom (in the clear water of the White you can easily see the river bed) and in this low, minimum-flow water it's best to keep it in or near the river channel. Early fall is a great time to get on the water without having to sweat the temperatures or the catch.

(updated 9-12-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is clear. The river is low during the day was rises in the evening with generation. Rainbow fishing was great this past week; brown trout reports were “terrible,” they say.

(updated 9-12-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that during the past week that had just a trace of rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. Substantial rain fell after John’s report was submitted. But as of last Friday the lake level at Bull Shoals was 3.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl, or 37.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.2 feet to rest at 3 feet below seasonal power pool and 17 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 feet to rest at 2.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 10.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River generation with significant wadable water every day. Norfork Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 3.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 27.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw little generation and had 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. The White River has fished well. The hot spot has been Buffalo 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 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, “At this year’s Fly Fishing Fair, which will be held at the Vada Sheid Center at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home on Oct. 4-6, Gary Flippin and I will teach a river boat handling class. Anyone who is new to river boating and would like some pointers on how to operate a White River jon boat on our rivers should sign up. There is a modest fee. We taught this class several years ago and have been asked to do it again.
“Gary has been on the river all of his life and I have been a guide for over 25 years. During that time we have made every error that can be made and have learned from our mistakes. Maybe we can keep you from making any errors on your own.
“As a part of this class we have put together a prelaunch checklist of everything you should do before you launch your boat. These are the things you should do in the parking lot before you back down the ramp.
“The only thing that you should do on the ramp is launch your boat. As soon as your boat is off the trailer, drive up and park your rig. The ramp is a busy place and should not be clogged with someone getting his boat ready to launch.
“Insert your drain plug. Make sure that it is snugly inserted. Otherwise water will enter the boat. Been there, done that! I leave mine in the boat and I carry an extra in case something happens. Remove the tie downs from the boat. The boat will not slide off the trailer until you remove them. Once again, I have made that error.
“Check you gas level and connect the fuel hose to your motor. Prime the fuel line. You do not want to run out of fuel. I have never done this but have heard of guides that let this happen. Their clients were not amused. I always use ethanol-free fuel to prevent engine problems.
“Load your boating equipment. I carry a paddle, a long-handled boat net (you judge your guide by the size of his or her net), personal flotation devices for each passenger, an anchor and a throw cushion. I also carry a spare propeller, a small tool set, a couple of sparkplugs, a rain suit, a first-aid kit, a few bottles of water, a knife and a pair of binoculars.
“Load your fishing tackle. I rig my rods before I launch. I also carry a large boat fly box that contains all of the flies that I use the most and a separate fly box with just streamers in it (they take up a lot of room. I also carry leaders; tippets (2X, 4X and 5X) split shot, forceps, nippers, hook hone, stomach pump, fly floatant, fishing license and sunscreen.
“I then look around and see if it is my turn to launch. Be sure and wait for your turn. If everyone prepares their boat before launching and keeps their time on the ramp to a minimum, it will not take long.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 657.51 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-12-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said, “The days are getting shorter and the water is beginning to cool off a little bit and getting nice.” There are a couple of little things he’s been using that have been working, Del said. It's that time of year to do a lot of junk fishing. So, depending on the day, sometimes the hour, if you’ve got wind there's a couple different things you can do. The buzzbait bite has been going pretty strong. If you’ve got some wind you can throw a Whopper Plopper. He’s also catching few on the Zara Spook, or any of the walk-the-dog-style baits, out there in the bushes. A lot of these fish are moving up shallow, he said, and as it cools off, more and more will move up. Depending on the day, look for steeper banks, those 45-degree banks with chunk rock, football, basketball size rock – and wind. The water’s dirty and Del’s been throwing a Sweet Beaver-style bait up shallow in the rocks and he’s “been whacking quite a few with the jig” in green pumpkin orange or pumpkin blue, right outside the bushes close to the shoreline and dragging it back. Pay attention; you’ll catch a fish and they’ll be spitting out crawdads. “That’s how I ended up on that color.” If the water lays flat, you can still catch fish on the drop-shot. Those deeper fish are starting to move around a little bit, so you’re going to have to cover some water to stay on top of them. You can catch a few on the old redworm in the brush pile, again, depending on the day. If it’s hot and sunny, some of those fish will be off in deeper water. Del said he was catching fish from the surface down all the way to 27 feet of water. So, it’s that time of the year to keep moving and you’ll be able to stay on top of the fish.

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 9-12-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is in great shape and fishing has been very good. The lake is in the final stage of summer fishing pattern. Some species will start to migrate to the cooler waters up in the northern parts of the lake. Other species tend to move into cover, and start to feed heavily on large flats. As the water continues to cool, fish will become more and more active and start to move into shallower water. The lake is shaping up for a great fall fishing season. The crappie bite is improving daily. Lou says he is starting to find some nice-size crappie in brush located 30-35 feet deep. Most of the crappie he has caught lately have been 25-30 feet down in or near brush. In the afternoon the fish are coming up in the water column, so you might check out anywhere from 15-30 feet deep over or near brush. You will still find some nice slabs roaming the flats following baitfish.
Lou says his fishing method of choice has been to vertical-jig a spoon, either quarter-ounce or half-ounce. “I have also downsized my fishing line to 4- and 6-pound test, low visibility monofilament line. My favorite color choices for spoons has been all white, white with a chartreuse back, or white with a red throat. Small grubs with a twister tail would also be a good bait choice in similar color schemes as mentioned above. Live bait, as usual will work great with a small slip float.”
White bass fishing has been very good. Lately Lou have started his mornings fishing a large flat in the Cranfield area right before sunrise. Large schools of white bass are roaming the flats chasing shad. He has found this species in 18 feet of water out to 40 feet of water. The fish are suspended from the surface down to about 30 feet. Lou says he’s mainly been vertical jigging a half-ounce spoon. There has been some topwater action in the mornings right at daybreak, but the afternoon topwater bite, right before sunset, has been better. When you get into topwater action, throw your favorite topwater bait or a blade-type bait. “I mainly have been use a Kastmaster (blade bait) when I know the fish are close to the surface. I can cast this bait a long way and I can also let it sink if the fish go down,” he said.
Walleye fishing has also been good. Trolling a crawler harness with an inline spinner and bottom-bouncing weight has been picking up some nice fish. One day they are in 25 feet of water. then the next day they move to 35 feet of water. Keep checking different depths until you start picking up some fish. Lou says he’s caught walleye as deep as 65 feet on the bottom while striped bass fishing over the last week. You will also find some walleye in or near brush in the 30-35 feet range. Live threadfin shad was the bait that he had down. The walleye are located lake-wide, so you do have plenty of choices. Striped bass fishing is still good in the dam area. Live bait is working the best, but vertical-jigging a 1-ounce spoon is also picking up some nice fish. The striped bass are 60-70 feet down on the bottom, but you will find some schools of fish suspended in the deep channels, but still 60-70 feet down. Before long the striped bass will start their northward migration to the cooler water.
Lou says the surface water temperature of Norfork Lake has dropped a little from his last report. In the morning the temperature has been 81 degrees with a slight rise during the daylight hours. The lake level is remaining fairly stable and currently sits at 552.14 feet msl. The main lake is clear on the surface and some creeks and coves are slightly stained.

(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.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-12-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 3.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 27.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw little generation and had 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. The Norfork has fished very well. There have been some nice midge and sporadic caddis hatches that have provided some limited topwater action. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole over the past year. 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 red fox squirrel nymph with a ruby midge dropper. He also says 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). 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 soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 9-12-2018) 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.