Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 28, 2018

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report November 28, 2018.

White River

(updated 11-28-2018) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Some folks have been heard to say they're tired of catching so many rainbows. Imagine that! Where else can you catch so many trout in a single day that hardcore fishers say they're casting arms are sore? But that's been the case this past couple of weeks here on the White River in the serene, beautiful Arkansas Ozarks, just down a block or two from city hall in Cotter.” They say that most days the catch has been completed using live worms or a small amount of PowerBait and shrimp. For a little more challenge – but still bringing a lot of trout to the boat – anglers have cast some spinners (try a Rooster Tail with a gold blade, pink body or a Blue Fox with a rainbow blade, gold bell under an overcast sky) and are still having good luck with the No. 5 countdowns. But when the sun comes out, put the artificial baits away and return to the scented or live baits. The water level has been at minimum flow for several weeks until just yesterday with new releases equal to one unit of generation (3,300-3,500 cfs). Nightcrawlers and redworms should work, especially well for the next couple of days. The brown bite remains fickle; your best bet is to get your hands on varying sizes of sculpins and work them near the bottom. “Good luck. Stay warm. Stop in and say ‘Hey’.”

(updated 11-28-2018) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the river clarity is clear and the level is now low. Rainbow trout fishing is excellent. Anglers can use just about anything to catch them, but PowerBait and small lures have been working best. Brown trout are still gone, in terms of catching. When the wind is blowing, you can see them, but they aren’t biting anything.

(updated 11-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week that they had a couple of rain events (less than a quarter inch in Cotter), cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.6 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 fell 0.7 feet to rest at 5.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 19.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 2.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had wadable water every day. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. 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 Wildcat Shoals. They have been some blue-wing olive and some midge hatches (try a size 20 Parachute Adams). 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 beadhead pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 654.84 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 552.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: September-April 552.00 feet msl; April-September, 554.00 feet msl).

(updated 11-28-2018) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said Norfork Lake's striper bite continues to stay strong. The stripers, hybrids, largemouth, and white bass are feeding heavily right now. Greg at Hand Cove Resort tells me that the crappie bite near and over the brush piles is heating up. Speaking of brush piles, Greg also told me that many of the Norfork Lake brush piles are getting a “makeover” beginning the first of the month. Watch for more details to come. I fished three days this past week and caught all the species in every area I fished. Right now I have been starting on the flat pass Fouts marina early and then later in the morning I move close to the channel alongside Fouts marina. Early the fish are in the 30' range and as the morning evolves they move into deeper water. Most of fish I have been catching are from 20 feet to the bottom. If you're lucky you run into a massive school of stripers and hybrids. That's when the fun begins. All the rods will get hit at once and if you’re quick enough you can put 2 or 3 in your boat. They are hitting shad, shiners, and spoons plus some people are trolling umbrella rigs with swim baits and catching some. The fish are still in the channel from the turn past Fout Marina to 6B however they are also being caught on the flats up near Cranfield Island, Howard Cove past Blue Lady, and the Fout area. Float Creek will begin to hold fish as the water turns colder. Stripers tend to congregate near and in the four corners area of 5A. 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 shad and the stripers are nearby.

(updated 11-28-2018) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake's fall fishing pattern is slowly moving toward the winter pattern. As the water continues to cool the fish go deeper following the bait. Over the last week I have noticed the bait moving from around 28 feet of water to anywhere from 35-50 feet of water. The bite over the last week has been good for most species. There have been continuous cold fronts, then warm air then back to cold fronts. Each time a system moves through the area the bite is affected. The best bite on the lake, in my opinion, is as follows: white bass, largemouth and spotted bass, crappie, but the hybrid bass and striped bass bite are starting to pick up. Walleye and catfish have both been sporadic, but I have seen good signs that both are ready to improve. I have been having a lot of fun over the holiday week fishing with family members. Our resort was partially filled with my wife's side of the family and the remainder of the resort was filled with guests fishing for all types of species. I was really impressed that the cold weather didn't stop many of our Texas, Florida and South Carolina family members and they all were able to catch a fish. White bass have schooled and are located on flats in 35-50 feet of water depending on time of day. Early in the morning they are typically in the shallowest. As the day wears on they move to deeper water on the bottom and also have been found in very deep water, but suspended in the same 35-50 foot range. In the afternoons, look in the mouths of deep coves for this species. Within these schools of whites are hybrid bass and striped bass. Most of the stripers and hybrids are still suspended from 15-35 feet down. I have been fishing flats and mouths of coves from our resort up towards the Red Bank area, as well as, from the 101 bridge flat up to Bennetts Bayou area. The best striped bass bite has been up in the Bennetts area, but stripers have been caught in Pigeon Creek, Cranfield area and the mid lake major creeks, Float, Fall and Panther. Vertical jigging a spoon, casting out Kastmasters and live shiners have been the best baits for whites, hybrids and stripers. Largemouth and spotted bass are being caught in many different types of areas and structures and are being caught on different types of baits. I have a lot of fun looking for schools of bass on the flats and they are currently being found in 35 to 48 feet of water. If you can find a slight drop off out on the flat it will be holding fish. When I find these schools I vertical jig with a spoon and at times will catch one after another. They are also located on the bluffs and close to the transition areas from bluff to chuck rock. Most will be suspended on the bluff, so casting rattle traps, spinner baits and crank baits will catch you some nice fish. They will also be on the drop offs along the bluffs so throw a jig & pig, Texas rigged worm or a crawdad, all will pick up some nice fish. Work the bottom along the bluffs 20-30 feet deep. The bite has been very light, so if you see your line start to move set the hook, or if you feel a slight heaviness set the hook. Walleye are starting to show up on the flats in about 40 feet of water, with the other species and some really nice fish are being caught jigging a spoon. The crappie bite has been very good. Look at brush in 30-40 feet of water, on the main lake, as well as, part way back into the creeks. Early in the morning and midday the fish have typically been buried inside of the brush. Late in the afternoon after the water has warmed a bit, they have a tendency to move up in the water column above the brush. Live bait is the best, but jigging small spoons or paddle tail grub are picking up some nice 13 - 14 inch slabs. Norfork Lake level is currently fairly stable with a slight fall one day then a slight rise the next and currently sits at 552.65 feet above sea level. The lake surface water temperature is falling slowly and currently is 53-55 degrees. The main lake is fairly clear.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 11-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. 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 top water action. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during flooding in the past year or more. 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 beadheaded 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). 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 11-28-2018) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable and clear. The smallmouths are less active with the water 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