Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 9, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report October 9, 2019.

White River

(updated 10-9-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “The White River/Bull Shoals tailwater that bends around Cotter and turns our piece of Arkansas into a peninsula is still running fairly fast with a steady four generators issued from the dam (approximately a constant 14,000 cfs). Although we experienced a pretty decent rain this past weekend, the lake level continues to descend to the desired power pool level, which is now set at an elevation of 659 feet msl. Cooler weather is finally here, but the fishing is still hot.
“The brown trout spawn has begun, so the bite may be slower and require more patience than earlier in the year but when you hook one, it'll give you a good fight. Sculpins and slicker minnows continue to be a favorite bait for the browns as they look to put on some extra winter weight. The rainbow catch has been great, with many excellent-size rainbows being pulled in and the occasional cutthroat being spotted. The elusive cut-bow has been seen, and photographed, by several anglers this past week, biting on the same baits as the rainbows: Pick out lures with silver or copper flash like the 3/16-ounce Blue Fox, and the favorite egg-pattern color has graduated from yellow to orange as we move further into the spawn. The X-factor baits are making a hit with the guides, especially the steelhead orange middle-sized eggs and brown trout egg clusters.
“Dress in layers and enjoy the misty, cold mornings on the river reeling in great trout. Drop in to the office if you're in need of a hot cup of coffee.”

(updated 10-9-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the Army Corps of Engineers is running a lot of water from the Bull Shoals dam. The river level has mostly been high the past few days. Trout fishing remains good, however. Anglers are catching a lot of rainbow trout, they report. PowerBait, pink worms and shrimp are working best.

(updated 10-9-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had about 3 inches of rain in Cotter, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.6 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 32.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 2 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.6 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had moderate generation with one 10-hour period of wadable water. 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 near the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the next week.
Hopper season is on the wane. 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 the catch-and-release section below 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.
John also said, “I was pleased when I got the email from Bob that said that he and his friend Jim wanted to fish with me again. I have fished with Bob on several occasions and with Jim a few times. They are both experienced anglers that have fished all over the United States and at key spots throughout the world. They are both a lot of fun to be with and do not require much attention. They are very easy to be with and guide. When communicating with Bob I explained that we had high water and there would be no chance for wading. That didn’t bother him at all.
“It was raining when I hooked up my boat for the trip to the river. I wore my rain suit and prepared myself for a few hours in the rain. By the time we arrived at the ramp it had stopped raining. Jim did not have a pair of rain pants, so I leant him my spare pair. I told him that if we all had rain gear it would not rain all day. I was right. It quit raining and did not rain for the rest of the day.
“They were running about 16,500 cfs, or a bit over five full generators. There had not been much rain and the river was pretty clear. The rain had really cooled things down and we all wore our rain gear in the boat. There was a light fog with a light wind it was a very comfortable start.
“I rigged them a bit differently. Both had an egg fly with another fly beneath it. Bob had a white mop fly on the bottom because there had been some shad coming through Bull Shoals dam the week before. Jim’s lower fly was cerise worm because it had rained (I always try worms after a rain because they get washed into the river).
“Bob landed the first trout on the mop. It was a nice fat rainbow. Jim proceeded to take the next four on the cerise worn and Bob went fishless for a few minutes. It seemed that the mop fly was a one-hit wonder. We changed Bob over to the cerise worm and he began catching trout. I always begin my clients with different rigs and switch them over to the same rig as the best fly becomes apparent. We only caught one trout on the worm. It had been my top produces on the previous week.
“At lunch we had 17 fish, which is pretty good on high water. We had a nice lunch at the access. The sun came out and it was beginning to warm up. We took off our rain suits and I donned my straw cowboy hat. We fished till around 3:30 p.m. as they had a long drive back to Kansas City. We ended the day with about 35 trout.
“It had been a good day on high water and we all enjoyed it.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 10-9-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is still high by 3 feet but finally going down. The clarity is clear as of midafternoon Tuesday. Surface temperature was 80 degrees. Anglers on the main lake are catching big bream, he said. Overall, the bream bite is good throughout. Redworms or a drop-shot are working. Crappie are good, but they are deep (about 25 feet). Look for them around the brushpiles and use minnows or jigs. Black bass are fair. The shad is going into the creeks, so bass are following. Topwater baits and plastic worms are working best. Walleye are being caught by trolling off the secondary points into the creeks. The bite is good. No reports on catfish. Check out Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for his latest video reports and tips on catching the fish.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 557.41 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 10-2-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said summer-like weather is hanging on longer this year than normal. “I’m really getting anxious waiting for the fall fishing season to begin. Even with the warm water temperature, my fishing guests and I have been doing pretty well fishing for a variety of species in Norfork Lake. Crappie, largemouth, smallmouth, bluegill, catfish and walleye are all being caught.
The crappie bite is still one of the better bites at this time, with several of the big slabs starting to show up. Crappie are being caught from 15 feet down to 35 feet, suspended and on the bottom in and around large brush piles. The best areas have brush from 22 feet of water out to 35 feet of water. You will be able to stay in one area longer with the brush covering such a large depth range. What I try to do is start in the shallow part of the brush and fish close to the bottom. As the sun gets to the treetops, I move a little deeper and will start to find fish suspended toward the top of the brush. But once the sun gets high in the sky the fish seem to move inside of the brush. If you are not getting bites you need to move to another brush pile. The bite may stop after you catch several fish and if it does, make the move then come back to this brush after you give it some time to rest. I have been using a quarter-ounce white with chartreuse back spoon, as well as ones with a pink and green back. These colors seem to be my go-to colors, but if the bite seems to be slow, I do switch out to other colors until I find one that the fish are wanting. I currently have several guests fishing for pan fish with live minnows and crickets. They are doing quite well catching big blue gills, along with some nice crappie and bass. The best depth so far for my guests have been 25-30 feet towards the bottom close to or inside of brush piles.
“I currently have another fishing guest that is strictly fishing for bass. The bite has been good for him, but he does have to work for them. He has been fishing a dark-colored 10-inch worm and working it in shallow water. His best areas have buckbrush that is still under water or large underwater rocks close to the shore. Yesterday he did land a nice 5.5-pound largemouth bass, but most fish he has caught are in the 2-3.5 pound range. A few days ago, another guest was crappie fishing and saw topwater action occurring along a deep bluff line across the lake from him. He headed that way and started to throw a Zara Spook and landed several nice 16- to 17-inch largemouth bass. These fish were out in 80 feet of water chasing shad at about 9 a.m. on a sunny day.
“I have also been spending quite a bit of time looking for striped bass and walleye. The striped bass have totally eluded me at this time, but I am finding walleye, but all have been short. My best areas for walleye have been on points off the rock bluff walls in 20-30 feet of water. I have caught these fish vertical jigging a ¾-ounce spoon off the bottom.
Norfork Lake continues to drop about 2 inches a day. The lake is currently at 558.36 feet msl. The lake is currently 4.6 feet above normal seasonal pool. The lake surface water temperature Tuesday morning ranged from 79.6 degrees to 81.5 degrees. “The main lake in our area is slightly stained to clear and most of the creeks and coves are also slightly stained. Great fishing color. From what I can see on my depth finder the thermocline has dropped to somewhere between 35-40 feet. Over the last several days I have found many fish on the bottom at this depth. This is one of the main reasons I have started checking out deeper brush and have actually caught crappie 35-feet-plus deep on the bottom. The better bite for crappie is still on 25-30 feet deep brush. As the lake continues to cool, what we call a lake turnover will happen and fish will then have the freedom to move around at any depth. Basically, this means the oxygen level will be high at all levels and the water temperature will become more consistent from top to bottom. Happy fish and see you on the lake.”

(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-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 10-9-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet over the past week to rest at 4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had moderate generation with one 10-hour period of wadable water. 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 near the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the next week.
The Norfork has been fishing better on the moderate flows but has been a bit crowded. The dissolved oxygen level is slightly improved. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole for floods. 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 10-9-2019) 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 more active with the warm conditions. 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.