Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 16, 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 16, 2019.

White River

(updated 10-16-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Trout fishing near Cotter on the bountiful waters of the White River always provides abundant action and produces ample creel-fills. Anglers this week showed us once again that we can hook a trout with a spoon, a rogue, a sculpin or minnow, a sowbug, a jig, spinnerbaits, Woolly Buggers, a midge, worms and San Juan worms, egg patterns, scented and unscented baits, shrimp and corn. What worked best this week? Our choice for the second week in a row is the 3/16-ounce copper Blue Fox cast toward the bank (because we're still experience a little bit of high water from Bull Shoals Dam) using a slow and steady retrieval. That copper hue carried over to the Colorado copper/gold quarter-ounce spoon. Brown rogues (Hot Chocolate or Gold) or dark-colored Rapala Count Downs (gold/black) are a good options if you're looking to cast lures for an afternoon.
“The German Brown bite continues to be slower than we'd like, but don't be surprised if you attract one or two with shrimp and PowerBait. We're waking up to very nippy mornings on the river, but these autumn days warm up nicely and you cannot find a more perfect place to spend a day.”

(updated 10-16-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says this past Saturday was the busiest day they’d seen in months. Anglers are “catching a ton” of rainbows and in nice sizes, including a 5-pounder being caught. The brown trout are slower but will bite. No one was fishing on Monday, as the water was clear and six generators were running. Overall the water is normal. The trout bite rates excellent, and PowerBaits are the way to go.

(updated 10-16-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had about 2 inches of rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.9 foot to rest at 4.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 31.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1.6 feet to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool and 13.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 4 feet to rest at 6feet above seasonal power pool and 3.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 4.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had moderate generation with no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to heavy rains over the last two weeks, all of the lakes in the White River System are now over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the next couple of weeks.
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 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 Round House Shoals in Cotter. 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 663.16 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 10-16-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is “pretty clear” and is 3 feet high. He says the water is “flipping over.” Bream are fair and are active at 25 feet depth. Try redworms. Crappie are good on minnows and jigs fished in the back creeks. Check out the brushpiles as well. Black bass are fair using topwater lures and jigs. Fish around the shad. Walleye are good if you’re trolling. No report on white bass or 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 557.16 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 10-16-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Norfork Lake water temperature is finally starting to cool and the fishing is heating up – kind of corny, ha-ha. In all seriousness, several species on the lake has been very good and improving daily. The crappie bite continues to be excellent and the larger slabs are starting to move into the brush. Same places as my last report and same methods of fishing. Brush in 30-40 feet of water has been the best, as long as the top of the brush comes up to at least 20-25 feet of water. Vertical jigging a small quarter-ounce spoon has still been working great.
“If you like to live bait fish, set up your rod with a slip float and cast to the brush with your live minnow. Small curly or paddle tail grubs tipped with a live minnow also work very well. Best colors have been pink and white, green and white or a Firetiger-type color. Brush in coves, as well as, main lake brush are both holding some nice fish.”
The bass bite has also been excellent, he said. There has been very good topwater action at sunrise and sunset. You will find largemouth and smallmouth bass, spotted bass and white bass all chasing shad. Cast your favorite topwater bait, such as a Zara Spook or a Whopper Plopper, and you will have a blast. Once the fish go down, work the shoreline, pitching a 10-inch, dark-colored worm right up into the sunken buck brush (2-5 feet of water). If you like to vertical-jig with a spoon for bass, they are starting to school up on deep water flats in 35-45 feet of water. “Some of my guests fishing out of our new Lowe fishing tri-toon found a large school of feeding fish in 40 feet of water off a small ledge. They landed eight nice largemouth bass with the biggest being 18-19 inches long. It will not be long until the jerkbait bite starts working. We just need the water to cool down a little more for the jerkbait bite to really get going.”
The striped bass are finally starting to show up, but very slowly. The heavy rains last weekend pushed the stripers back into the major creeks that had some cooler flowing water. As the water continues to cool the stripers will move out into the main lake and onto the big deep flats.
Norfork Lake level is dropping slowly, with some power generation and gate releases. The current depth is 557.16 feet msl. The lake is currently dropping about 1-2 inches per day. The surface water temperature is slowly falling and is around 73 degrees. The main lake is clear to slightly stained with some of the creeks and coves stained. Overall Norfork Lake is in great fishing condition. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 10-16-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 4.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had moderate generation with no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to heavy rains over the last two weeks, all of the lakes in the White River System are now over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the next couple of weeks.
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 due to 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. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing better. The browns have begun making their annual migration upstream. 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.
John also said, “Last week my wife, Lori, had a guide trip on Dry Run Creek. Her client was a 10-year-old girl, Claire. I tagged along. Lori didn’t need any help with just one client. I went for several reasons. I have been guiding on high water and have not been able to wade. Lower water was a welcome change. There have been several changes to Dry Run Creek due to a major maintenance project in the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery that I wanted to check out. In addition, I really enjoy working with Lori, especially on Dry Run Creek.
“It had rained all night, it was raining when we started, and it was scheduled to rain all day. Lori and I prefer to guide in the rain particularly if it is a light rain like this one. Nothing thins the herd like a little rain. The creek was heavily stained from the rain. which can be a good thing. If you can’t see the fish, they can’t see you. The key to success is to fish with brightly colored flies that the trout can easily see in stained water. Lori concentrated on fishing cerise or pink worms (always fish worms after a rain storm) and peach eggs.
“I took a walk up the creek to check out the changes. One of my favorite spots was very different. The place where I would have my client stand and fish was gone. After studying it carefully I decided that I could effectively fish it. Another spot that had been changed in the previous construction project was more like it originally was and was now a bit deeper and held fish again. I decided that the changes were positive.
“I walked down to where Lori and her client were fishing. Claire was petite and had never fly-fished. She was struggling with the casting and the hook set. Lori was patiently coaching her. She first concentrated on improving her cast. Once Claire was casting more effectively, Lori concentrated on having Claire identify strikes and set the hook. As I watched I saw things coming together. She landed a nice rainbow, and a while later another trout. Over an hour she landed several, the largest of which was a stout 15-incher. She hooked a couple of big fish but was unable to land them. She did not give up and was determined to catch more.
“About this time she hooked a big trout. Lori really wanted her to land this one and was carefully coaching her. I walked over and told them that I would net the fish, thereby leaving Lori free to concentrate on working with Claire. The trout was struggling like a wild Comanche. It took several runs. It was difficult to see the fish in the stained water. I patiently waited until it came to the surface and I had an opportunity to net it. I swung and I raised the net. A nice 23-inch brown was in the net.
“Claire’s dad rushed over with his camera and took a bunch of photos. Lori had accomplished her goal. She had taught her client to fly-fish and finished the day with a trophy brown. I was lucky enough to observe the process. Life is good!”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 10-16-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are a bit high and off-color. The smallmouths are still active. 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.