Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 3, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report October 3, 2018.

White River

(updated 10-3-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says the weather has been spectacular for Arkansas Ozarks anglers, and the rainbow catch has provided a "wow" factor to perfect conditions. The water level on the Bull Shoals Dam tailwaters of the White River has been steady throughout each day for the last week: just under one unit of generation (averages an extra foot to a foot and a half added to the depth of the river), which provides more options and easier navigation in a jon boat but a little more difficulty finding low wading spots. Bank fishing works well with this water level, though. Rooster Tails with orange bodies and gold or orange speckled blades are producing good catches. Any of the 1/6-ounce or 1/4-ounce Thomas Buoyant spoons – brass and nickel/gold Colorados, red/gold and silver/blue will bring some rainbows to your net, and the smaller gold/black or brook trout Rapala countdowns (sizes 3 or 5) gold and black have attracted attention. If your favorite bait is worms, wait until later in the day when the afternoon releases are increasing the river level and keep your bait near the bank. Take some time to enjoy The Natural State in the most beautiful spot in
Arkansas under the rainbow bridge in Cotter.

(updated 10-3-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is clear and the river level there has been high. There are 1-2 generators running and they are running more water through. Rainbow trout fishing has been “incredible,” they say. “You don’t even need a hook.” So, excellent reports have come in all week on rainbows. However, brown trout are nonexistent.

(updated 10-3-2018) 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 quarter of an inch, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals 0.6 feet to rest at 4 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 38 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 feet to rest at 4.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 feet to rest at 3.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had little generation with some marginable wadable water. Norfork Lake remained steady at 4 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 28.2 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 now below the top of power pool. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. They are still hitting grasshoppers for some nice topwater action. 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 (sizes 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 notes about his upcoming fly-fishing classes starting next week at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home: “My wife, Lori, and I have been teaching this class twice a year for eight years. During that time we have taught hundreds of people to fly-fish.
“Before we began this class we taught at several organizations like community colleges in Arkansas and Tennessee, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the Mid-South Fly Fishers and several fly shops. Our hands-down favorite is ASU-Mountain Home. It has a great lawn for casting and a perfect-size classroom for our classes. The people there are a delight to work with.
“As usual, our casting instruction will be led by Lori. She is the top casting instructor in the area. My brother Dan taught her how to cast and gave her detailed instruction on how to teach fly-casting. Dan was a renowned instructor that taught thousands of people how to cast. She met Lefty Kreh and he fine-tuned her cast and ability to teach over several coaching sessions. I assist. I have taught fly-casting for over 30 years. Lori is better than I am. She is the best natural instructor that I have ever met.
What I bring to the table is basic fly-fishing instruction. I have been fly-fishing for over 35 years and have been a fly-fishing guide for over 25 years. I bring the lessons that I have learned over the years to the classroom.
“The basic premise of the class is to simplify everything. The idea is not to teach you everything that we know. It is to teach you what you need to know in order to catch fish. When you leave our class you will know how to cast a fly rod, what gear you need and the gear that you don’t need. You will have an understanding of water safety, how to rig a fly rod, how to tie the necessary knots and how to select and fish the most productive fly. You will have a basic understanding of trout foods and how to read water. The whole thing is presented in a nonthreatening atmosphere where all questions are encouraged and individual attention is maximized.
“The class will be held on Arkansas State University-Mountain Home campus from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Thursday Oct. 11, 18 25 and Nov. 1. If this sounds like something you would be interested in, contact ASU-Mountain Home and sign up. The best way is to go online https://asumh.edu/services/community-education.html. Or you can call the Community Education Department at 870-508-6105. Lori and I hope to see you there.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 656.47 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 551.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 10-3-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is entering into the early stages of its fall fishing pattern. “What I have seen over the last week is the following: (1) The majority of striped bass that had migrated close to the dam during the heat of the summer months have scattered and have started to show up all over the lake; (2) threadfin shad have started their move back into the creeks and onto the large flats; (3) topwater action is increasing for largemouth, smallmouth and spotted bass, as well as white bass, hybrid bass and striped bass.” As the surface water temperature continues to drop, fish activity will only increase. This is a fun time to fish because you can catch so many different species of fish all in the same area once you find the baitfish. At this time, Lou says, the bass bite is one of the better bites on the lake. This species has become very active and can be found in different types of areas. “The last two days I believe I have landed over two dozen bass between spotted bass, largemouth bass and smallmouth bass. I have found feeding bass right along the shoreline back in a major creek feeding on shad. When I see them feeding on the shore I cast my Kastmaster (blade bait) right up on the shoreline and bring it back to the boat in a jerking motion. I landed a nice 3-pound smallmouth fishing this method along with many others. The reason I like the Kastmaster is that I can use it for all species. I can jig it off the bottom, work it for topwater action and let it sink for the suspended fish. I do replace the hook with a little larger hook that has a white feather trailer on it.
Lou says the second type of area he’s finding bass is out in about 40 feet of water if the shad are in the area. He says he’s been catching these fish vertical-jigging with a 1/2-ounce green and white spoon. When you find shad in the 40-foot range you will have the opportunity to catch almost any species in the lake. “One of our bass fishing guests has been doing quite well on bass and he has mainly been using plastics, worms and June Bugs. His biggest fish has come out of 2 feet of water, which weighed roughly 4 pounds.
Lou says white bass fishing is also outstanding. Early and late in the day you can get into some nice topwater action out on the flats. “In the early morning I am finding white bass in 20 feet of water breaking the surface. As the morning wears on I have been moving back into a creek and am finding large schools of whites out in 40-55 feet of water. These fish will be at all depths. My favorite way to fish for these deeper fish is by vertical-jigging a 1/2-ounce spoon. The best thing about fishing for whites is that the hybrids, stripers, spotted bass, largemouth bass, catfish and walleye will all be in the same area. The same 1/2-spoon is catching all these species for me.
“(Monday) was a great day of fishing and catching. I was checking out some new areas looking for fish. I went back in a major creek and started to see bait fish about 40 feet down, then the fish showed up. In about an hour and half of fishing I landed well over 30 fish. Big hybrids were in the mix and I had the opportunity to land five along with some nice spotted bass and largemouth bass. Granted, the majority of the fish were whites, but it sure was a lot of fun. (Tuesday) was another good day of catching, but the hybrids were smaller. I only landed one striped bass since they were scattered, but I will start to find them schooling very shortly. Panfishing is also picking up. Crappie have moved back onto the brush in 30-40 feet of water. (Tuesday) morning when I was checking out a new area for stripers I decided to fish a brush pile for a while. I quickly landed four crappie in the 10- to 11-inch range using a 1/4-ounce spoon. All were released onsite. The brush was sitting in 35 feet of water and the fish were on the bottom next to the brush. In the afternoon, crappie have a tendency to move up on top of the brush and can be 10-20 feet down, so you do need to check out all different depths until you start seeing your pattern.” Lou also said bluegills are up in the brush in the same depth. Some are on the bottom and others are suspended. Crickets are one of the most productive baits for bluegills.
Fall fishing is loads of fun and will continue to get more and more exciting. As the lake temperature drops, more and more fish will be feeding on the banks and you will have the opportunity to find large schools of striped bass feeding on the surface. There will typically be a decent after-dark bite for striped bass soon. Use a suspending jerkbait. So there’s much to look forward too over the next couple of months. The fall bite has started and it's gearing up to be a great fishing season. Norfork Lake level has fallen slightly over the last report, but basically is stable and currently sits at 551.60 feet msl. Norfork Lake surface water temperature has also fallen slightly during the last week and ranges from 77 in the morning and increases to around 80 in the warm afternoons. The main lake appears to be clear with about a 7- to 8-foot visibility from the surface, but some the creeks and coves are stained.

(updated 10-3-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the Norfork Lake live bait striper bite on the lower part near the dam has collapsed. “Last Thursday was our last good day but it was very slow compared to the past weeks. On Friday I tried fishing various areas around the dam and found our bait dying at 50 feet and the stripers we have been catching in the 80-foot range mostly are gone and the ones still there would not bite.” Tom says anglers can find a few hybrids on the bottom and the trollers are catching some in the 50- to 70-foot range. These are reactionary bites but putting bait down and catching fish is over, he said. If you put fresh bait down every couple of minutes you can entice a hit ,but the bait dies quickly. “I tried fishing Robinson Point and the bait died at the 50-foot range. The fish have migrated and should show up in the mouths of all the major creeks arms in the next several weeks. A few stripers are being caught up in the cooler water up by the Highway 160 bridge, but be careful because it's very shallow.” He says there is a good topwater bite for small hybrids and white bass at the mouths of Big Creek and Brushy Creek at first light and early evening. This should start happening all over the lake as the water cools. The lake temperature has dropped 7 degrees, but it needs to drop down to the low 70s before much striper action will happen again. The weather is supposed to turn warmer again so this will slow the lake temperature from falling too much. “I plan on fishing the Clamity Beach area this coming week but do not expect much, but you never know.”
Tom says that 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 and Float and Panther creeks in the mid-lake area. The Fouts area will begin holding fish along with areas from Red Bank to the Highway 160 bridge. Find the bait and you will find the stripers. They will be hungry and begin their fall feeding pattern.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-26-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake remained steady at 4 feet below seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 28.2 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 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 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 from flooding. 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 10-3-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. 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.