Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 23, 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 23, 2019.

White River

(updated 10-23-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says Bull Shoals Lake elevation is 660.59 feet msl Wednesday morning, which is 2 feet above power pool of 659 msl, as we continue to see release of 11,000 to 12,500 cfs from the dam. The releases have slowed some (from 4½ to 3½ generators) in the last few days, so you may have noticed a decrease in the river level and the speed of the current. Rain is forecast in the coming week; we'll keep an eye on generation schedules and lake level increases across the White River basin.
Drifting is the best means if fishing from a jon boat unless you can shimmy into a shallower area to lay down an anchor for a few minutes. By now, you've adjusted your fishing technique and bait selection to the higher water so you might decide it's "business as usual, but keep in the mind the effect of the spawn on your angling approach and your catch-and-release habits. Be mindful that during the spawn, trout will probably not be interested in most of the baits in your arsenal, so your best bet may be to pester them: Drop your line in front of them repeatedly, again and again. They may strike at your bait in an effort to protect their area or to get rid of you. Release those females for now and improve our chances of seeing more trout fry in our waters.
What's working? Sculpin are making a comeback after a few weeks of slow or no bites. White baits; white jigs (pink heads work well), white worms, white Rooster Tails, white PowerBait are catching like crazy. Add a touch of shrimp to the barb and you'll be reeling ’em in all day long. “Good luck from all of us at Cotter Trout Dock and enjoy the beauty of the Arkansas Ozarks this autumn.”

(updated 10-23-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said Monday at midmorning that no one has been fish due to it being cold and windy. The river level was high with six generators running at the dam. However, they report that the trout bite for them is god. PowerBait is working, along with spinning and drift rigs. “A lot of good-size rainbows” were caught. “They are a lot bigger than this time last year.” The biggest brown caught was 18 inches. Caught some others but they were not very big.

(updated 10-23-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had about a half inch of rain, cool temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.8 feet to rest at 2.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 33.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 foot to rest at seasonal power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 5.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 3.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 2.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.4 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 at or over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the next week or two.
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 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 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 high water 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 660.91 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 556.18 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 10-23-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 2.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.4 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 at or over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the next week or two.
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 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. 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.
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 10-23-2019) 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.