Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 25, 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 25, 2019.

White River

(updated 9-25-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Bull Shoals Lake is just 6 feet above desired power pool level today. Compare that to the 27 feet over power pool the lake was less than two months ago and we appreciate the work the Corps of Engineers has been doing. We are still receiving approximately 16,000 cfs around the clock (equivalent to five power generators) but it won't be long before the water level drops to a less-swift, easier-to-navigate amount.
“The days are getting shorter and finally, cooler, tie that to the higher water levels and we're seeing rainbows spawning. Find an egg pattern orscented egg-like bait that matches the color of the roe, and you'll have more trout chasing your line than you can manage. This week that would be X-Factor's steel head orange, followed by fluorescent orange or sunrise PowerBait. Red Wiggler Worms should always be an option during high water events, with worm imitators (red, natural or bubblegum pink) just as successful, if not more so; cast toward the bank as you drift downstream and the rainbows and an occasional brown will snap them up. The browns are continuing to respond best to minnows for now, but as the spawn kicks into high gear in the next month or so, keep your options open and carry an array of baits to pique their curiosity. Red/gold Thomas Buoyant spoons, the gold Cleo and one or two stick baits (Smithwicks with orange bellies are a tried-and-true favorite), are tackle box staples on the White. We're due for a colorful autumn this year; come watch the leaves fall and the trout count rise. See you on the river.”

(updated 9-25-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the river is clear and is at a normal level and current. The trout bite has been excellent this week, they report. They say 500 trout were stocked recently, and one angler this week caught the trout “Grand Slam”: rainbow, brown, cutthroat and brook trout. He caught all four on a fly rod. PowerBait is the bait of choice for rainbow-catching anglers this week. The rainbows are excellent and are also biting drift rigs, Power rigs and Power Worms. Brown trout are picking up and are biting on jigs and stick baits. They also report that for the first time in 15 years they had seen a summer “shad kill” on the river.

(updated 9-25-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said 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 9-25-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the Bull Shoals Lake level is back to normal after a long summer of water being quite high. Visibility is 5-10 feet. The clarity is clear and the surface water temperature is 82 degrees. Bream are good on redworms and crickets. Crappie are good, with best results found in the creeks and around brushpiles. Minnows or jigs will work. Black bass are shallower now, in 15-20 feet depth. The bite is good on spinnerbaits, topwater lures, buzzbaits and jigs. Nothing reported on catfish. White bass are excellent using bottom bouncers in 32-36 feet of water. 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 9-25-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said September is still hot with no rain and cold weather. We have had some cooler days but the weather needs to turn cold with rain which is only cure for the dam stripers. Once we get some rain and cooler weather the stripers will be able to move from the depths. We continue to catch limits of stripers above the state line. The stripers are in the water depths from 18 to 24' and the water is cooler with plenty of oxygen. We are using 3 to 5” gizzard shad on downlines and long lines.
The bass are schooling early morning off the main lake points feeding on small shad. Small topwater lures and spoons will produce lots of action. The crappie are schooling over deep brush piles in waters no shallower then 30' and the crappie are suspended around 15'.
High water, no rain, high water temperature, little current, small dam releases, and almost no oxygen has resulted in a striper kill this year. Stripers need 5 ppm to be active and as the summer passes and the high water the oxygen level has continuing to decrease. It's now less than 2 percent and we are seeing some dead stripers at the dam. Once we get some rain and cooler weather the stripers will be able to move from the depths and the kill will be over. We can only pray this happens soon.
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 seventies 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.

(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.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-25-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said 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 9-25-2019) 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.