Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 18, 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 18, 2019.

White River

(updated 9-18-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Seems the summer heat is following us all the way into autumn this year. The tailwaters below Bull Shoals Dam have been fairly high throughout the last week, beginning at about 10,000 cfs (three-plus generators) to 18,000 cfs (six generators), so expect swift current and, if fishing from a jon boat, drift fishing will be the primary way to go. Browns have been somewhat elusive this week, but using Rainbow Rapala Countdowns and other rainbow trout lookalikes has proven to be very successful in drawing them out of their deep water hiding spots. The rainbow catch has been spectacular with a newer bait: orange or yellow X-Factor salmon egg clusters are a great way to reel them in. Fishing with a sinking rig in the deeper holes with live worms or plastic worm baits has been getting the bigger rainbows to bite. It looks like the temperature might be dropping later this week to almost autumn weather, so be ready for cooler mornings and warm afternoons while pulling in great trout on the White River.”

(updated 9-18-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the river is high and has been running fast. The water is also a little mossy. The trout bite is till good, however. PowerBaits and Power Worms are working well. Lots of rainbows are being caught on PowerBait. The 122/121 size power worms are catching browns, the first time in a while they’ve seen a catch haul of browns. Anglers note: You’ll need a good “designated driver” for the river as it is very fast now, they report.

(updated 9-11-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that last week they had no rain, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.1 feet to rest at 13.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This 20.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.6 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1 foot to rest at 2.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 5.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 7.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 16.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had moderate generation all day. 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 reports the lake’s elevation at 670.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-18-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the Bull Shoals Lake level has dropped down a lot but is still 3 feet high at the dock. There is about 5-10 feet visibility in the water, though it’s mostly dingy. The surface temperature Tuesday afternoon was 84 degrees. Black bass are good on Whopper Ploppers, shaky head worms and jigs. Catfishing is hit or miss, he said. He terms the bite fair, with worms the best choice. Walleye are in 32-34 feet depth off the points and are being caught using a nightcrawler harness. There is shad everywhere, 15-20 feet deep. No reports on bream or crappie. Check Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for his latest video report on what’s biting and techniques to use.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 560.92 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 9-18-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is on the tail end of its summer pattern with many species still in very deep water. As the weather starts to cool, the fish will become much more active and start to feed heavily. According to the long-range forecast the area is expected to start getting cooler weather very shortly, he said. “The best bite on the lake for me has been for crappie. The crappie bite has been fantastic. I have been vertical-jigging a quarter-ounce spoon and a 1-ounce spoon. The best color has been a white spoon with a chartreuse back. The fish have been aggressive and are hammering the spoon as it is falling. Find brush piles that are in 30-35 feet of water that come up to around 15 feet. The crappie have been suspended on the top of the brush around 15 feet as well as being buried in the brush all the way to the bottom. I have been catching the larger fish toward the bottom. Most of the crappie that I have been catching are in the 9- to 11-inch range. The bigger slabs are still out roaming away from the brush, but will be heading into the brush as the water cools. Norfork Lake has a 10-inch size limit, but I have been catching many keeper-size fish.
“The bass bite has also been very good. Again, many smaller fish are feeding up toward the surface early in the morning, with the larger ones hanging around in deeper cooler water. I have been catching spotted bass that have been in the 13- to 15-inch range. The best areas I have found are on main lake points with lots of buckbrush still partially submerged. I have been casting a swimbait up next to or even inside of the brush and letting it sink, and the spots are hammering it on the fall. The fun part is trying to get them out of the brush. I have also marked many bigger fish along deep bluff lines suspended down 10-15 feet deep.”
The striped bass bite has slowed, Lou says, which is very typical for this time of year especially with higher than normal water levels. The stripers that head down toward the dam area should be moving away from the dam area and are scattering throughout the lake. As the water cools, they will again start to school and become very aggressive. Norfork Lake’s surface water temperature is holding in the mid-80s, but should start to drop with the upcoming cooler weather. The lake continues to drop 1-3 inches per day depending on how much power generation is going on. The current water depth is 560.94 feet msl, which is only about 5 feet above normal seasonal pool. The main lake is clear with a slight stain, with some of the creeks and coves a little more stained. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake,” he says.

(updated 9-11-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said the bite has died at the dam. The oxygen level is so low the stripers are not moving and laying in the mud to keep alive. The lake usually starts a slow temperature drop, but with the hottest weeks next week Tom sees no relief, he said. “We did have two good outings, then on Friday Sean (his son) and I both had clients and I caught one and Sean had no bites. I suggest if you're trying to striper fish you will need to find cooler waters and make sure if you hire a guide have him tell you where your fishing – if they say the dam, cancel your trip.
“Both Sean and I fished up toward Calamity Beach and found active fish and bait. The water is a little cooler and since it's not that deep the fish have move to oxygen due to some current coming from the river. I will fishing up there until the lake turns over in late October. It's a long boat ride but worth the effort if you want to catch stripers. The best will be 6- to 8-inch gizzard shad fished on downlines and long lines weighted with a split shot. If you do not want to travel that far, wait until its start getting cooler at night and the water temperature gets into the mid-70s, then 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.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-11-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that over the past week Norfork Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 7.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 16.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had moderate generation all day. 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 Norfork has been fishing slow. The dissolved oxygen level is low and has slowed the bite. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. 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 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 better. The browns have begun making their annual migration up stream. With school back in session it will be less crowded during the week 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 9-11-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. The smallmouths are more active with the warm conditions. His 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.