Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 14, 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 14, 2018.

White River

(updated 11-14-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says that after a week of some frigid mornings and a very light snow cover Monday night, the next few days will see daytime temperatures a little more conducive to spending time outdoors. All in all, though, the air temp doesn't affect the trout bite. The water level remained fairly steady each day at about 2,200 cfs (close to two-thirds of a unit generated from  Bull Shoals Dam). Perfect rainbows have been attracted by nightcrawlers for the shore anglers. If you're able to float the river and choose to fish a deep hole for a while, drop a hook with shrimp and garlic-scented PowerBait (try orange first) as near to the bottom as possible, or a river minnow. Drift anglers had luck with a No. 5 rainbow trout countdown and with 1/6-ounce Rooster Tails, gold blades and orange bodies, chartreuse and black skirts. We've had to fight for the browns; river guides have tried all the tricks in their tackle boxes to get the attention of the spawning browns. Turns out the best bites were on small to medium-sized sculpins or on an olive size 8 Woolly Bugger. “Stay warm. See you at the river.”

(updated 11-7-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity continues to run clear, while the level is low with minimum flow. That’s good for rainbows, but bad for browns. Hence, results were good with rainbow catching but few reports on browns. When there are seagulls before January/February there typically are no browns biting.

(updated 11-7-2018) 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 (2¼ inches in Cotter), cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 feet to rest at 4.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 40.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 feet to rest at 4.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 18.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.3 feet to rest at 2.7 feet below seasonal power pool and 12.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.6 feet to rest at 1.8 below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork River 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 well 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 (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 bead-head pheasant tail nymph 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 654.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 11-7-2018) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level is at 654 feet msl water temps around 64 degrees and fall has definitely showed up. The bite’s been hit or miss. It’s kind of power fishing, junk fishing 101. There’s not one set thing that's working. Go out and try and find the shad, cover water. There hasn't been any specific pattern that's been working for him, Del said. “The biggest thing I can tell you is fish the conditions, look for birds, you find the birds you'll see the shad. If it's laying flat you'll see a ton of shad up. I think the backs of these are starting to flip on us so it's gonna be hit or miss for us a little bit here.” Del said he expects things to pick up as the water temperature cools off a little bit. If the weather is windy, stormy or rainy, you can catch them on a spinnerbait bite now. If it's real windy and with dirty water the white spinnerbait is working. War Eagle Spinnerbait, if you’re getting into clear water, is working a little bit. Picking up a few fish on the Rock Crawler, so that bite should start getting a little better as the water cools off. Del said he likes to cover a lot of water and is throwing a square bill. Any shad or threadfin shad pattern seems to be working well, as is a Whopper Plopper. “We haven’t gotten that chaotic fall bite as of yet,” he said, “but it’s coming.” If the water is laying flat and you can see fish breaking, get in there early in the morning, there’s a good little topwater bite. If you know where there at you can get on them right away. Also, spoons that look like the bait fish – white, silver, anything that looks like the shad. Also, the jig. Del’s catching fish anywhere from 2 foot of water on gravel to 30 feet off the bluffs. There is definitely shad in the creeks, so that’s a good place to start. He also says he’s been catching a few walleye purely by accident on a spoon under the big schools of shad in the creeks, about 26-30 feet deep. “I can tell you that with all the 16- to 17-inch fish, next year should be stellar!” The lake is beautiful, you can come out and have the lake to yourself. There is lots of color.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 552.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 11-14-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake's striper bite is moving into the winter pattern. We fished both the Calamity Beach area and Fouts Marina area. The striper bite was strong in the beginning of the week in both areas but by the end of the week the Fouts area was by far the best place to fish. This pattern is the same as it was last year. The stripers stack up in the channel from Fouts to 6B. Roaming schools of fish pass by moving into the creeks to feed. We caught them all day long each day we fished. The last good bite on Wednesday was at 3:30 in the afternoon. They will stay in waters from 28-35 feet until the bait moves out towards Crystal Cove then you should find them in 40-60 feet of water. We are using shad but shiners will be an effective substitute to shad. The best method is downlines set off the bottom about 2 feet. I also had one rod set about 20 feet down to catch the roving hybrids that are in the higher water column. Float and Panther Creeks should also hold stripers plus Big Creek. Follow the same pattern, find the bait and the stripers are nearby. The crappie bite is very strong on the deep brush piles limits are being caught using a small spoon or minnows. The white bass bite is strong on the flats by Cranfield Island and the big flat about Fouts using small spoons.

(updated 11-7-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Norfork Lake fall fishing sure can be a lot of fun. I will admit that if you want striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass you will spend some time looking for them, but once you find them it is well worth the time.” He says large schools of white bass are currently roaming the flats in the morning hours and during the day. They tend to move into deeper water late in the day and start to relate to points in the mouths of coves. Lou says he tends to fish many different areas of the lake looking for fish in order to try to help his fishing guests find and catch fish. “I tell my wife that this is part of my job as a resort owner that is why I need to be on the lake so much.” White bass fishing, largemouth bass fishing and crappie fishing are the better bites on the lake as of Tuesday. Lou says he expects the striped bass bite to improve very shortly, if what he saw this morning is any indication. He found schooling and feeding fish in 22 feet of water, and at around 7 a.m. the striped bass were all high up in the water column. Casting out a quarter-ounce silver Kastmaster landed a nice striper. Then the whites showed up at all depths. Vertical-jigging a spoon or Kastmaster was giving Lou many hookups. As the sun came up, the fish continued to move deeper on the same flat. Lou says he finally lost the fish in about 35 feet of water. Topwater action for white bass and hybrids is sporadic. He says he has not been fortunate enough to find this action, but several of his resort guests have gotten into some nice topwater action over the last week. “Topwater action is happening somewhere on the lake, but you need to be in the right place at the right time! This will become more frequent based on past years’ experience.”
Lou says the largemouth bite has been very good for him over the week. In the mid-to-late mornings he has found schooling bass in 30-40 feet of water on large flats. Vertical-jigging for the bass has worked great, he adds. The schools of fish have stuck around for well over 45 minutes, so anglers can catch a limit very quickly. In the late afternoon, he says, he has changed tactics a little and moved into the secondary creeks. He has located large schools of bass as far back in the creeks as you can go, but still being in 27-30 feet of water. Secondary points in the small creeks have been productive locations, especially if the creek channel swings in close to the deeper shoreline. Jigging for these fish is working. He has also located some nice bass on the bluff lines where the bluff starts to transition to chunk rock. Crankbaits on calm days and spinnerbaits on windy days are good baits to try. Jig-and-pigs are also working very well. Crappie fishing has been good. Look for brush in 30-40 feet of water and the fish will be somewhere around the brush. At times they are buried inside of the brush and other times they will be suspended on top of the brush. Live bait is working great, but small spinners, jigs and crankbaits are also producing some nice fish. Norfork Lake's level is slowing rising with very little power generation coupled with rain for several days in a row. The lake level currently sits at 552.37 (basically normal pool). The main lake is fairly clear and most creeks and coves are somewhat stained. The surface water temperature Tuesday morning was 62.5-63.5 degrees.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 11-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.6 feet to rest at 1.8 below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork River 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 well 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 things have changed a bit in 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 browns have moved up into the creek. 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 11-7-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. The smallmouths are still active, although the water is cooling. 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.