Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 4, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report September 4, 2019.

White River

(updated 9-4-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, The White River that flows past Cotter in the north central Arkansas Ozarks, 18 river miles below Bull Shoals Dam, continues to produce wonderfully wild catches of trout, day after day, season after season. The river served as the backdrop to a lot of Labor Day weekend visitors
and delighted fishers of all ages with bountiful catches of rainbows, a fighting brown or two, and several colorful cutthroats. The rainbow catches were lured in mainly with Sunrise or pink PowerBait tipped with shrimp (don't use anything much bigger than a size 8 hook), but our favorite spoons were making a splash, too: The nickel and gold Colorado and the red/gold Thomas Buoyant hooked some trout (quarter-ounce).”
Water levels have fluctuated quite a bit this week, rises coming in the late afternoon in Cotter require switching baits. “You'll do best dangling a redworm or a nightcrawler near the bank during rises in the water level, then return to a heavier spoon or added weight to your line when it levels off.” The browns are getting finicky; while sculpins continue to cause a nibble or two, you'll have better luck with a 4½-inch Smithwick stick bait: steel blue/gray or olive brown/green, suspending depth 0-6 feet. The mighty midge has been working for fly anglers all week, and water levels from one to four generators (3,000 to 9,000 cfs). “With Labor Day behind us, we're focused on serious fall fishing. Come out and test the waters.”

(updated 9-4-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the water has mostly been high the past week, and the clarity is clear. Trout fishing is good. “A lot” of rainbows were caught by anglers, along with a few brown trout. Use drift rigs for best results.

(updated 9-4-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that last week they had just a trace of rain, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals was at 15.5 tenths feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 3.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 4.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.6 feet to rest at 8.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation in the afternoon and wadable water in the early morning. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River System are at or over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the foreseeable future.
Hopper season is in full swing. Use a short, 7½-foot leader to turn over the big fly. Cast near the bank and hang on. The takes can be vicious. John says he prefers large western foam hoppers so that he does not need to dress them. Add a dropper nymph to increase your catch.
The White has fished very 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 cerise San Juan worm with an egg pattern suspended below it). Use long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 676.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl).

(updated 8-21-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake clarity is stained with a visibility of 5-10 feet. The water level as of Tuesday early afternoon was still 19 feet over normal pool level. Bream reports are good, with redworms or crickets working well. Crappie are good; they are biting spoons and are mostly on the creeks now. Black bass reports are fair. Del is finding them in about 20-30 feet of water. In the morning there is a topwater bite. Nothing to report on catfish or white bass. Check out Del’s YouTube channel (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for his regularly updated video fishing report with various baits and patterns he’s using for the bass.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 563.93 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 9-4-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the bite continues at the dam. “Our clients limited out on each outing this week. The fish have gone deeper due to the low oxygen. The latest report said the oxygen was 2 percent, which is enough to keep the stripers alive and semi-active but not much more than that. We are still using 4-ounce sinkers to get the bait down on the bottom, then we bring it a foot and keep the baits at 1 foot off the bottom no manner what depth were fishing. Again all the fish begin caught are within 500 yards of the dam, Quarry swim beach, the buoys and Dam Cove, and Long Point are holding most of the fish. A trick that has been effective is a short, 10-pound leader with very small hooks.”
Almost all the fish being caught are on live bait, he says. “Every day I fish I see less and less fish. I feel within the next week or so the fish will leave the dam and scatter around the lake. Try the creeks and Robinson Point. One trick is go up the creeks until you find a drop in the water temperature; the stripers will be close by. The water above Calamity Beach is starting to cool, so it will not be long before I begin to fish on the north end of Norfork Lake.

(updated 8-21-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideway Resort said fishing on Norfork Lake continues the summertime pattern with no dramatic change over the last week. The water temperature is on the rise with the unseasonably warm air temperatures. The thermocline may have dropped a foot or two, bur is still in the 25-foot range, plus or minus a foot or two. Striped bass fishing is still the best at the dam area. You can find many of the stripers 70-90 feet deep on the bottom or very close to it. “I have noticed that they seem to have moved a little deeper since last week. I fished for striped bass last Sunday and Monday and caught a few and missed a few, but most were 80-90 feet down on the bottom. Live bait is working, but you will need to change out your baits often as they are not surviving long in this deep and cold water. Vertical-jigging with a spoon is picking up a few fish and trolling with downriggers or a lot of inline weight is also picking up some fish. I am hearing that the fishermen trolling swimbaits or umbrella rigs are catching a few stripers suspended 40 feet down, but the fish I am finding are mainly very deep.
“Today (Tuesday) I headed toward the Cranfield area and upriver a short way and fished in 20-35 feet of water. I was vertical-jigging a spoon, casting deeper-diving crankbaits and slow trolling deep-diving crankbaits. I caught crappie, bluegill and bass. Crappie have moved into brush that is in 25-30 feet of water. I started out vertical jigging a quarter-ounce spoon with lightweight line. I was marking fish at the tops of the brush, about 15 feet down. I received no bites. I switch to my 1-ounce spoon and on my first drop it was hammered by a 10.5-inch crappie. I fished this brush with the 1-ounce spoon for about 30 minutes and landed five more in the 10-inch range. Why they liked the bigger bait over my normal go-to size, I have no idea, but they were aggressive. I switched methods of fishing and started casting a deep-diving crankbait over the tops of some brush where I was marking fish and landed a nice 12 crappie and a few bass. You can also troll with deep-diving crankbaits in 18-30 feet of water and catch many different species of fish. You will need to have your bait reach around 15-20 feet deep. I have in the past added some big split shots about 6 feet or so from the bait to help it get deeper.”
Norfork Lake surface water temperature is on the rise and was 87 degrees Tuesady morning. The lake is somewhat stained, but clearer in the main lake. The water depth continues to drop 2-3 inches per day due to the Army Corps of Engineers keeping the power generators on for part of the day. The current depth of Norfork Lake is 565.5 feet msl. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-4-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the previous week Norfork Lake fell 1.6 feet to rest at 8.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation in the afternoon and wadable water in the early morning. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River System are at or over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the foreseeable future.
The Norfork has been slow. 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 couple of years. 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 ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper (size 14). The fishing is better in the morning. Dry Run Creek is fishing slow. With school back in session it will be less crowded during the week. There is some work being done at the hatchery that has affected access to the upper areas on the creek, and some of the hatchery discharge pipes are not running, resulting in lower flows on the creek. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.
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 9-4-2019) 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 more active with the warm conditions. John's favorite fly is the Clouser Minnow. Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these steams. They both have large drainages and are prone to flooding during and following any rain event. The water can rise very quickly.