Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 26, 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 26, 2018.

White River

(updated 9-26-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says that through last weekend the White River at Cotter has been running on minimum flow releases (very low) from Bull Shoals Dam for most of a month. Wading opportunities were abundant and hopper season brought out our favorite late-summer flies. The Rebel Crick Hopper remains a favorite and works especially well in the low water near the bank. Hop it along the surface and the trout gobble it up. In the last few days, we've seen about one generator of water released from the dam bringing the water level up a foot or so – a nice, steady flow without the spikes that tend to stir the fish up. We're still getting plentiful bites from the brown trout population on sculpin and minnows (a little less abundant as the summer winds down). Look to orange and sunrise mix as the color for egg patterns and bait right now, and when you add a little pinch of shrimp to the hook, the rainbows will chase you down. Keep that bait near the bottom for the most consistent action. And keep anglin'!

(updated 9-26-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said there was little change in conditions or fishing from last week. The river clarity is clear, especially when it’s low. The river is low during the day was rises in the evening with generation. Rainbow fishing is “pretty good.” Fishing for browns is nonexistent, they say.

(updated 9-26-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they had a few rain events that combined for three-quarters of an inch, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 feet to rest at 3.4 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 37.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.3 feet to rest at 4.3 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.7 feet to rest at 3 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had little generation with significant wadable water most every day. Norfork Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at 4 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 28.3 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. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim 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, “Gary Flippin and I are going to teach a riverboat handling course on Thursday Oct. 4, for the Fly Fishing Fair at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home. A major component of that class is boating safety. It should be noted that the White River System is considered the sixth most dangerous body of water in the United States. The big problem here is that the White and Norfork are tailwaters and our water levels can vary greatly in a matter of minutes. To operate in conditions like this you need to be proactive.
“Maintain your boat properly and carry the gear necessary to make simple repairs. I always carry an extra propeller and extra spark plugs. I also have a spark plug, wrench, a pair of pliers, a crescent wrench, a screw driver and a sharp knife. Though I have an electric starter, I carry a spare pull rope. Make sure that you have plenty of fuel. I only use ethanol-free, high-octane gasoline in my boat to prevent damage from the ethanol.
“I also carry safety equipment. I have a Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device for each passenger and a couple of extras. Since my boat is a bit over twenty feet long I also have a floating throw cushion. I have a first aid kit, a small air horn and a flash light. I do not plan to be on the river after dark but things happen out there that you cannot always control. I carry a paddle. It has a T handle that also functions as a boat hook.
“Check weather conditions before you leave the house. Know what the weather is going to be. Fog, rain, lightning, wind, cold and severe heat can adversely affect your day. I monitor the weather channel several times a day and I have a weather app on my IPhone that I use to check conditions, when I am on the river. I carry a rain suit in the boat as well as a couple of inexpensive throw away rain ponchos for my clients. Check water conditions before you leave the house. You want to know what the water level will be when you get to the river and when any changes in the water level will arrive at your locations whether it be rising or falling water.
“When you are operating a boat, pay close attention to where you are going. Be on the lookout for rocks, submerged trees and floating logs. The best way to drift fish is to point the bow of the boat upstream and drift backwards. That way, when you encounter an obstacle, all you have to do to avoid it is to motor forward. Avoid drifting broadside. If you hit an obstacle drifting this way, you could get pinned to it by the current. Keep the motor running at all times. That way all you have to do to avoid an obstacle is to put your motor in gear and rev the engine. Be particularly careful when drifting along a shoreline. You could easily hit a submerged rock or stump.
“The use of drag chains should be avoided on high water. The chain could get caught on the bottom and pull the boat under. When the drag chain hangs up the boat comes to an immediate stop. Any boat occupant could be knocked from their feet if they were standing. Anchoring in high water can also be dangerous for the same reasons. While you can safely anchor in a quiet side channel with little or no current, you should avoid anchoring in heavy current.
“One of the most dangerous situations is boating in a heavy fog like we often have here. Sometimes you are unable to see other boats until you are almost on top of them. If you are running up or down stream, do so at a safe speed. Have your passengers help you by looking out for other boats and other obstacles.
“Sit down. I know that most of you prefer to stand when fishing but it is much safer to sit. That way, if you hit something, you are less likely to be thrown from the boat. It is difficult to fish, if you are also controlling a boat in heavy water. It is best if you devote your full attention to where your boat is going. When I fish with my buddies or other guides, we take turns running the boat. When someone catches a good one, they take their turn at the tiller. That way everyone gets to fish. Keep the deck of your boat clean. Any trash, fishing equipment or loose lines should be carefully stowed. This will help prevent falls or entanglement.
“Slow it down. I constantly observe anglers running at top speed. You have slower reaction times when you are going fast. Don’t drive distracted. Check your cell phone when you are not running. Avoid the use of alcohol when operating a boat. Water and alcohol don’t mix.
“You should approach docks or islands from downstream, so that the current doesn’t push you into the obstacle. If you spot someone in trouble, help them out. It could be you next time! Keep these suggestions in mind and you will have a much safer trip.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 657.29 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-26-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said last Thursday that the lake level was 657 feet msl. It’s been stable and they had not gotten much rain before last week. Del says they’re starting to “get the lake back, guys.” There were a couple of cool days, but then it got brutally hot again. The fish were starting to move up and then crept back down. Water temps were right around 80 degrees in the morning, by the end of the day it can be 86-87 on the surface. Keep in mind, it’s fall now. The fish are moving around or starting to move. Be prepared to cover a bunch of water. As far as the bite goes, some of the things have been for him, Del says, and have a caught a few fish on the Jewel Special Ops Tactical Jig in their Bass Whacker color. He’s been catching quite a few fish on that whether it's sunny, windy – it doesn’t matter with the good jig bite going on, he said. If it's windy, you can get right upside the bushes and, if it's flat and calm, move out to the deeper stuff. Those fish have been positioned on the rocks, on the channel swing banks, sides of points, anywhere there's wind, on the bigger football-sized rock, that bite is definitely helped if you've got a little bit of wind or cloud cover. Now, if you're covering water you can throw a buzzbait now. This time of year put the trolling motor down. Get you a high-speed reel so you're not fighting it, and keep it going. Del also says he’s fishing the buzzbait. If there's enough wind, you can throw it all day. If you got clouds and a little bit of wind you can still throw it. If conditions are super nasty, if you got a ton of wind like the lake saw recently, you can catch them on the Whopper Plopper. The Whopper Plopper’s working just outside the bushes, the channel swing banks, bigger rock, anywhere those fish can go up there and munch and get back to the deep water. Now, as the sun comes up and it's just nasty and nothing seems to be working, Del says, he’s still resorting to fishing the drop-shot in the main lake. The main lake drop-shot has been fair on channel swing banks going into the creeks, the brush piles, anywhere from 15-20 feet of water. Just lob it up on the bluffs and drag it down. The brush piles are going be hit or miss. Fish them for 5-10 minutes and, if the fish are not there, just go to the next one. Also in super windy and cloudy conditions, you can catch a few on a spinnerbait. The live bait around the bushes and the shore has been real small so you want to pick out something in a natural color – if you're in clear water, go with whites, blue shads, anything like that with a smaller blade. Del added that one of his favorite things to do at this time is to go back through the dock and skip a buzzbait or a jig up around the shade of the dock. That'll help you get a couple more fish in the boat. He said that if weather reports were even halfway right about the past weekend, a lot more fish should have moved shallow.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 551.76 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-26-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said there have been a few changes in fishing on Norfork Lake since his last report. First of all, the surface water temperature has dropped to 79 degrees at sunrise but increases slightly during the daylight hours. Secondly, the thermocline is dropping very slowly and currently sits in the 35-40 foot range. The drop in the thermocline at the end of summer is very common. Thirdly, the bigger bass are finally starting to come out of their deep water summer pattern and are feeding in shallower water early in the morning.
Lou says Norfork Lake's walleye bite continues to be outstanding. There have been several methods of fishing for this species at amazingly different depths. Near the dam you can catch walleye in 80 feet of water, plus or minus 10 feet. The fish are lying on the bottom or very close to it. Live bait and vertical jigging with a spoon are both working well. If you are vertical jigging with a spoon you don't need to work the bait fast. Drop it to the bottom, then lift the bait 3 to 4 feet off the bottom by raising your rod, then let it fall back to the bottom. Repeat until your bait gets real heavy then reel in your fish. A third method that is also catching a few walleye is trolling swim baits with down riggers. This deep water bite for walleye will not last much longer so you better get on the lake and catch a few. The second location is in shallower water 30 - 35 feet, again on the bottom or close to it. This morning (9/25) I found several nice walleye off of a shallow sloping bank out in the main lake area. The walleye are starting to move onto the flats at approximately 32 feet of water level. I caught my walleye by moving slowly with my trolling motor and stayed in 30-35 foot range. I kept bouncing my half-ounce spoon off of the bottom. You can also troll slowly with a crawler harness with a bottom bouncing weight. It is amazing how many walleye there are in Norfork Lake.
Striped bass are still in the dam area in deep water. Live bait is working the best, but spoons and trolling swimbaits are also catching a few good fish. This species is also in the 80 foot range on the bottom or suspended in the deep water channel, but they are staying at the 80 foot level plus or minus 10 feet. I don't expect these fish to stick around in the dam area much longer. The largemouth and spotted bass bite is improving quickly with the cooling off of the water. I am starting to find and catch larger sized fish in shallower water. This morning I found some good topwater action for bass close to the start of a large flat. The fish were at all depths. Some were chasing shad next to a chunk rock shoreline all the way out to the start of a flat. I was sitting in 30 feet of water and could see fish coming up in 10 feet of water, as well as, out in 60 feet of water. Most of the deep water fish were whites chasing shad, but there were some nice spots mixed in. I was casting a quarter-ounce Kastmaster with a feather trailer. There was a lot of bait in the area and the bass stuck around for well over an hour. I ended up leaving with the fish still exploding. What fun! Norfork Lake level is holding fairly stable with minimal power generation and currently sits at 551.74 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature dropped to 79.4 degrees Tuesday morning based on Lou’s depth finder. The main lake is clear and some of the creeks and coves are somewhat stained. Norfork Lake is in great shape.


(updated 9-26-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake striper bite continues near the dam but we should see a major change in the coming weeks. I expect by next weekend we should begin to see a shift in the migration of stripers. With the current weather pattern, the lake temperature will be lower. It's currently 80 degrees but with the rain and cooler nights of late, the temperature will fall. Now the fish are hanging around 80-93 feet off the bottom. We are catching limits of stripers and a few walleye each trip out. The bite is very strong using gizzard shad. I have been lowering my bait to the bottom and bring it up 2 feet. The walleye are also biting on the shad. A small spoon worked slowly will catch you a limit if you stay in waters near the dam. White Bass and Hybrids are surfacing and feeding in the back of Koso Point at sunup. There is also a strong topwater bite on the flat above Blue Lady. As 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. “Remember we now in the summer period of striper fishing, so you should stop releasing legal stripers that you catch,” Tom said.


Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-26-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake fell 0.3 feet to rest at 4 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 28.3 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. The Norfork has fished 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 flooding over the past year. 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 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 9-26-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are higher and off color. 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