Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 19, 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 19, 2018.

White River

(updated 9-19-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says fall is approaching and the big browns are ramping up their bite ahead of the upcoming spawn. The past week we've seen wide temperature swings from fall-like temps in the morning to almost summertime highs in the afternoon. Despite the changes for the anglers, the rainbow catch has been steady with the favored PowerBait color changing from yellow to either sunrise or range. A new lure has proved very successful this week: the Brook Trout Rapala. Trout of all sizes have been biting on it, with many larger browns being reeled in. Other favorites were the red-bladed Blue Fox and olive and tan jigs. Bring a jacket for the mornings and a camera to record your big catches.

(updated 9-19-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is clear, especially when it’s low. The river is low during the day was rises in the evening with generation. Early morning, there is no water. In the early afternoon, the rainbows are good, but there have been no browns.

(updated 9-19-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had a trace of rain, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 feet to rest at 3.7 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 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 little 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 had 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 below the top of power pool. The White 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. 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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 657.67 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 551.81 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-19-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake's summer fishing pattern is winding down, but still trying to hang on with the hot weather we're having this week. If the future weather forecast has any validity, I predict that the fish will start to move more into a normal early fall pattern sometime next week. Hopefully my prediction is more accurate than the weather forecast usually is (ha). What I am trying to say is that the striped bass will soon migrate from the dam area and head northward toward cooler water, the larger slab crappie will start to move back into the brush, and the bass will start to feed more heavily in shallower water. Currently the best bite for striped and hybrid bass is still located close to the dam and the fish are deep, from 60 - 80 feet down, either on the bottom or suspended out in the deep river channel. I fished by the dam area on Monday the 17th and had a great day of fishing. Live bait is working the best, but vertical jigging with a spoon is also catching a few fish. Trolling an umbrella rig or a large swim bait is also picking up some nice fish, but you need to get your bait down below the 50 foot mark.
The walleye bite is also very good. You can locate this species in several different areas and depths. If you like to troll with a bottom bouncing weight and a crawler harness, start checking out the sides of long points, as well as, along the deeper bluff lines and bluff line points. The walleye are moving out a little deeper and can be found in 30 - 40 feet of water. The thermocline is dropping down so the fish are following suit. The second location is in very deep water on the bottom. Monday I found a huge school of hungry fish 80 foot deep. I was fishing close to the dam out in front of a main lake point. I was on a drop off with the front of my boat in 80 feet of water and the back of my boat in 100 feet of water. I was getting short bites on live bait and losing them half way up. I even tried a stinger hook with no luck. I decided to start vertical jigging a white with a chartreuse back spoon and they loved it. I would drop it to the bottom then lift it up about 4 feet then let it fall again. They were eating the spoon on the fall and when I would start to lift the spoon up again I would feel the weight of the fish. I limited out in less than a half hour once I started this process.

The crappie bite slowed for me this week with the water warming about 3 - 4 degrees. The bigger slabs that were on the brush last week seemed to have moved off of the brush. They should start moving back in next week with the upcoming cool weather forecast.
I had a good day of fishing this morning for spotted bass and white bass. The medium size whites have schooled up on large flats. Early and late in the day you can find schools of fish from 12 - 25 feet of water. I was vertical jigging a 1/2 ounce spoon and catching one after another. The big jumbo whites will move onto these same flats as the water cools. At sunset you can find schools feeding on the surface. I found quite a few nice size spotted bass this morning while trying to find big crappie. I was jigging a 1/4 ounce spoon in and around brush piles. The spots were towards the bottom of the brush with a lot of small crappie and white bass on the tops of the brush. I also had a big battle with a 12 pound blue cat. This cat hammered my little spoon and I thought I was snagged at first, then he started to swim. 15 minutes later he gave up and came to the surface. I only have 4 pound test monofilament line on my reel with an ultra-light rod. It was really fun. I was grinning the whole time during the fight!


Norfork Lake level is falling very slowly and currently sits at 551.83. The lake surface water temperature has increased slightly to 83-84 degrees. The main lake appears to be clear from the surface with some of the coves and creeks slightly stained. The thermocline has dropped to roughly 35 feet based on the temperature readings taken by the Norfork Lake Striper Club last week (thanks to the club for the great information).


(updated 9-19-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake striper bite will continue near the dam until the water begins to cool. Instead of the water getting cooler it’s going up with the warm afternoons. No rain increases the chances that the stripers will be near the dam for a while. The latest oxygen level shows there is no oxygen for the stripers other than the dam area. Stripers need 5 percent of oxygen to be active. As each percent is reduced the striper activity decreases. Right now at 70 feet the oxygen is 2 percent. The stripers are still feeding but you need to get your bait right on their noses. I'm using 4-ounce barrel weights and a short 18 foot leader and dropping it to the bottom then reel up a couple of turns. Gizzard shad is my bait of choice, they are more active than threadfin in both size and activity. I had a guide fishing next to me using threadfin shad and while I was getting bites he was watching us catch fish after fish. While we were catching our sixth fish for a limit he finally caught 1. Fish live bait right now, I have watched the trollers and spooners fish every day and only see 1 or 2 fish caught. When the water cools the bait will begin to school and will move to shallower water in the mouths of the creeks. Check Big Creek if you're on the lower end of the lake and Robinson Point, Float and Panther Creeks in the mid-lake area. The Fouts area will begin holding fish along with areas from Red Bank to the 160 bridge. Find the bait and you will find the stripers. They will be hungry and begin their fall feeding pattern.


Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-19-2018) 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 had 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 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 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 (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. Dry Run Creek is fishing much better. 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).

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 9-19-2018) 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.