Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 6, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report November 6, 2019.

White River

(updated 11-6-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says trout fishing on the White River in the north central Arkansas Ozarks, also known as Bull Shoals Lake tailwater, continues to offer all-day action for anglers of all ages as one of the most productive trout streams in the country. Releases from the dam have been heavier over the past 10 days than the previous month or two because of several heavy rains across the White River System, from Beaver Lake to Norfork Lake. The lake level has risen about 2 inches, so we're seeing it in higher water levels on the river.
The rainbow catch, as it most often is, was abundant – if you were dangling a worm. Nightcrawlers and red wigglers bested the bubblegum pink scented worm; however, the XFactor white worm played a role in a good share of landed trout, too. A little fuzzy egg
pattern, peach or soft yellow, tied to a No. 8 or 10 hook, served well. Keep your bait pretty near the riverbed, using plenty of weight to stay there. Anglers last week had less success with the shrimp/power bait combo than usual, but found that alternating shrimp and worms over the course of the day proved successful. Drift-fishing is the norm for now, and if fishing from the bank be ready to cast and retrieve, cast and retrieve (or cast and catch, retrieve, cast and catch!) due to a fairly swift current.
They add, “You'll enjoy your fishing adventures much more if you come prepared for Arkansas weather extremes. This week we experienced several mornings with temperatures below freezing and the afternoon sunshine raising the thermometer to the upper 50s, low 60s. As always, whatever the weather, we are blessed to be here in The Natural State and always look forward to meeting fellow trout lovers.”

(updated 11-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had yet another rain event (about a half inch here in Cotter), cool temperatures (to include frost advisories) and moderate to heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.2 feet to rest at 3.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 32.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.6 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool and 13.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.7 foot to rest at 8.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.7 foot below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 1.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw 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 three 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
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam has closed beginning Nov. 1 to Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch and release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period. On Feb. 1, 2020, this section will reopen to fishing.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the Wildcat 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.

(updated 11-6-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said little has changed in recent weeks. The river is high with six generators running at the dam. Anglers are catching rainbows but not a lot of browns.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 662.26 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 11-6-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the water is clear and Bull Shoals has risen to about 2.5 feet high as of Tuesday morning. The lake is at 65 degrees on the surface. Del reported last week that the lake has turned over. Crappie continue to be caught, with good results reported. They are deep, however. Most are being caught in 25-30 feet of water and are being found around the Corps brushpiles. Use minnows. The bass are picking up with the Corps running a lot of water, he says. If it’s windy, Del suggests using spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Otherwise, got with topwater baits, the Whopper Plopper, or fish with jigs around the rocky points. The reports have been good on bass. Walleye are being caught trolling. Nothing has been reported on bream, while catfish reports were poor. 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 555.24 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 11-6-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 1.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork saw 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 three 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
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 flooding over the past couple of years. 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 (size 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 (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.
John also said, “It seems like I have been spending a lot of time writing about rain or the effects of rain this year – this is because it has been a high-water year. The lakes are still in flood pool and my grass is still growing as fast as I can cut it. It is raining as I write this. Last Saturday was typical of the days I have spent recently fishing in the rain.
“The forecast was for a high in the 50s with rain and winds 5-10 mph out of the west. The generation schedule called for about three and a half generators or about 12,500 cfs. It had rained the previous day and the water was lightly stained. It was in the 40s with a steady rain when we arrived at the ramp. The plan was to split the day between fishing from the boat and wading Dry Run Creek.
“I was dressed in long underwear, a layer of fleece, a Primaloft (a synthetic down alternative that maintains its warmth when wet) jacket with a hood, rain bib pants, a rain jacket, muck boots, heavy wool socks, a ball cap (to keep the rain from my face) and fingerless wool gloves. I was perfectly dressed and ready to handle anything that Mother Nature was to throw at me that day.
“My clients, Ed and his son Zack, were not. Zach had waders but no rain jacket. I loaned him a spare rain jacket that I keep in my boat in case I get caught in the rain. Ed had a jacket but it did not look waterproof to me. I loaned him my spare rain pants that I keep in my boat for my unexpected use and a poncho that I keep for clients that don’t have raingear. We fished in driving rain and heavy wind for several hours. The weather man was mistaken; the winds were more like 15-20 mph. We fished for several hours and then drove over to Dry Run Creek to finish the day. We caught plenty of trout, particularly at Dry Run Creek.
“Now that the day was over I had to deal with a mound of wet gear. I started with my raingear. I hung all of it on the porch of my guest house. I have installed about a dozen brass hooks in the woodwork just to hang wet rain gear. It was still raining, so I left my boat out in the rain. It could not get any wetter. I did pull my drain plug to drain the boat.
“The next day was a bit warmer and sunny. This gave me a chance to dry my boat out. I pulled out the life jackets and hung them in the sun to dry. I bailed and sponged out my boat to remove any water that had not drained. I then replaced the plug so I would not forget. I open all of my lockers to let them air out and sponged out any rainwater that I found. I opened and aired out my boat fly box that got wet during the rain. I replaced any flies that I lost during the previous day. I dried out my boat bag and its contents. I noticed that my flashlight had dead batteries and replaced them.
“I folded and stored my now dry raingear. I put my newly dried lifejackets in the boat and stored my other gear in its designated storage location in my boat. I charged my trolling motor batteries. Finally, I put my boat cover on to ensure it would remain clean and dry during the next rain scheduled in a few days.
“Fishing in the rain causes a lot of work to keep your gear in good shape so that it is ready for use the next time you go fishing. I like to be prepared to leave the house on a moment’s notice and know that my gear is ready to do its job.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 11-6-2019) 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 less 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.