Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

0ctober 30, 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 30, 2019.

White River

(updated 10-30-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says anglers on the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks have dodged rain drops several days this past week, basked in sunshine on others, and caught a passel of trout every day. Low overnight temps means cold mornings on the river, so add Toasty Toes and hand warmers to your tackle box if you're leaving out any time before 10 a.m. Southwestern Power and the Army Corps of Engineers are continuing to release an average of 13,000 cfs through Bull Shoals Dam round-the-clock, but the lake level remains steady at nearly 2.5 feet above power pool because of rain and runoff across the White River basin.
The rainbow catch has been very good over the last seven days with the gold-and-black Rapala CD5s and CD9s and the copper Colorado spoon topping the go-to bait list, but you'd be wise to have some white and/or yellow egg patterns to thread on your hook if things get slow. The annual spawn is heating up, so be careful and gentle when returning the females to the river. “We have seen fewer browns and cutthroats during the last week, but those we've been able to bring to the boat have taken sculpins rather than stick baits. Try a black Maribou Jig on these overcast days; it changes up your fishing technique and keeps the interest high. Don't let the cold keep you away – the trout catcher's motto may well be ‘The colder, the better.’ See you on the river!”

(updated 10-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had three days of rain (about an inch and a half in Cotter), cool temperatures and moderate to heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady at 2.4 feet feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 33.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.7 foot to rest at 0.7 foot above seasonal power pool and 13.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 2.3 feet to rest at 8.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 2.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had moderate generation with no wadable water. 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 few 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 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 Wildcat Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (size 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.
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.

(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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 661.59 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 10-30-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake’s visibility is 5 feet. The lake is at 66 degrees on the surface, and he says it has finished turning over. The level is high. Crappie are excellent. They are abundant and being caught around brushpiles. Use crappie minnows. Black bass are fair. They’re being caught “junk fishing,” he describes it, with one bait not working any better than any other. Walleye are being caught trolling. No reports on bream and nothing reported 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 555.50 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 10-30-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake water continues to cool and the lake has nearly completed its annual turnover process. The water temperature is 68 degrees from the surface down to roughly 75-85 feet. The oxygen level is high down to the same level, then reduces along with the water temperature down to the bottom of the lake. This is a normal process for Norfork Lake and is in line with past years, with the exception that the lake temperature is a few degrees warmer than normal. The cold weather this week should make the lake finalize its turnover, which makes the temperature and oxygen level the same from the top to the bottom of the lake. The oxygen and lake temperature information was provided by Norfork Lake Striper Club on Oct. 28.
Lou says the bite continues to be good for bass, crappie and bluegills. White bass fishing has been getting really good over the last few days for the medium-sized whites. Vertical-jig with a ½- to ¾-ounce spoon to catch the whites. They will be on the bottom or suspended 15-25 feet down. “The biggest change since my last report is that the bait has moved out to the flats in 20-50 feet of water. This is the main reason the white bass bite is taking off. As the surface water temperature continues to drop into the low 60s, I would expect to start seeing more frequent topwater action for some of our species in the lake.”
The largemouth and spotted bass bite has been good and you can find them in a couple of areas. The bass continue to be shallow, very close to the shoreline. Shallow, sloping banks has still been the best, but they are showing up more and more on the rock bluff lines. Crankbaits are working very well, as are soft plastics. Cast your bait right next to the shore and retrieve back to the boat. Work your plastics slowly along the bottom. The fish are still using the sunken buckbrush to help them hide, so don’t hesitate casting right up into the brush. If you like to throw topwater baits, the fish are coming up for them. The topwater baits are working early in the morning. Cast your bait, such as a Zara Spook, up to the shoreline, then use a walk-the-dog retrieval method back to the boat. There is still some topwater action for bass in the mornings and evenings but it has slowed a little at this time. A second area that has just started to be good is on large deeper water flats. “I have found some nice schooling, feeding bass in 20-40 feet of water. It does take some time watching your electronics to find the schools. My best method for these deeper fish is to vertical-jig a spoon. You will catch one after another once you find the school. Staying on the school of feeding fish is difficult to do, but if you get lucky enough to stay on top of them you will have a blast for a long time.”
The crappie bite continues to be good, but has slowed a little. “I am still catching some nice slabs, but It seems like I need to jump around a lot. I catch a couple fish off of brush then they seem to stop biting. I move to another brush and catch a few then need to move again. You can still catch your limit, but it will take some work. If it was easy it would not be any fun. I am still using a ¼-ounce spoon. Firetiger, white and chartreuse, white and green and white and pink have been my best colors. The fish have been from 10-20 feet down over brush and you need to be on the brush as I am not finding any on the outsides of the brush. The crappie will start to move around a little more as the water cools and will come shallower in the evenings. The bite has not started for me until around 8:30-9 a.m., but I have not tried in the dark with lights out.
“The bluegill bite has been good. I typically catch a few nice ones on my ¼ ounce spoon while crappie fishing, but fishing with crickets is the best. Best areas have been in small cuts in the bluff walls especially if there is some brush in the cut. You will find them anywhere from 15-30 feet deep.
“Striped bass fishing is still the slowest bite. Not unusual for this time of year, but that bite should take off shortly. Once the lake finalizes its turnover and cools a few more degrees the bigger fish will move to the flats. This is not to say I have not been catching stripers and hybrids. There are large schools of this species out on the flats in 20 – 50 feet of water feeding on shad along with the whites. The issue is that most of the fish are on the short side at this time. There are a few nice size fish in side of the schools of smaller fish and you will hook up on occasion. It is still a blast to catch a 17 – 20 inch striper on light tackle, if you are looking for some fun action. Look for bigger stripers back in the major creeks such as Big Creek, Bennett’s Bayou and up river around the state line.”
Norfork Lake level continues to drop slowly and sits at 555.58 feet msl. The lake surface temperature in the morning this week was 66-68 degrees depending on location. The main lake is fairly clear and the creeks and coves are somewhat stained.

(updated 10-30-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 10-30-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 2.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had moderate generation with no wadable water. 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 few 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 that he does not need to dress them. Add a dropper nymph to increase your catch.
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 has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole due to flooding. 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 weekends can be pretty busy. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size14), 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 10-30-2019) 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.