Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 16, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report September 16, 2020.

White River

(updated 9-16-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “The Arkansas Ozarks will be inundated with fall colors before long. Here in the Trout Capitol U.S.A., Cotter, Arkansas, our daily temperatures are moving towards the lower 80s, nighttime lows are in the high 50s, with sunny days. Just add a great catch of trout to that and you have perfection.”
They report that the best baits to catch those trout are large, peach-colored fluffy eggs and rainbow-tinted spoons. This past week the rainbow trout Thomas Buoyant Spoon proved successful. Yellow Berkley Eggs are always a good bet for a lot of action; they’re also seeing a nice catch with the XFactor Bubblegum Pink Eggs. Sculpins continue to be the best lure for a brown. “Don't let the ideal autumn weather pass without a fishing excursion.”

(updated 9-16-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says rainbow trout have been biting well the past several days, but brown trout have not been as good. Power Worms and shrimp are the best bait. River clarity is “really good,” they say, and the river level has improved to normal depth with four to eight generators running this week. Overall, they term the fishing as excellent now.

(updated 9-16-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Tuesday that during the past week they have had several no rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.3 feet to rest at 14.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 19.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.2 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool and 8.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest 7.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 17.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are dropping at an increased rate, and wadable water could be weeks away.
John says the grasshopper bite is still around. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. John’s favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch.
He says the White has fished well. The hot spot has been 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 a peach suspended below it).
John said he got a pleasant surprise recently at Rim Shoals: “We have been blessed with fantastic fishing conditions for the past few days. The weather has been good. There has been little rain, sunny skies and cool mornings. The afternoons have been pretty warm, but I am accustomed to that. The big factor has been the water levels on our two tailwaters, the White and the North Fork rivers. Due to flooding downstream, the Army Corps of Engineers has been limiting generation to minimum flow on both streams for long periods every day. Though that pattern is coming to an end, it produced some incredible fishing while it was happening.
“Early in the process my wife, Lori, and I had a great morning fishing at Rim Shoals in my White River Jon Boat. The river was on the bottom and there was a heavy fog. It was so cool we wore light jackets when we started. The big plus was that we were able to fish with smaller flies and lighter weight. This made the casting easy. The fish were cooperating and we caught a lot of fish, including several in the 18-inch range. After a long period of high water, the trout were well fed and were fighting more actively than usual.
“Toward the end of the morning, I hooked a small trout, about 11 inches. It fought well but I was not overly impressed until I got it in the net. It did not look like the other rainbows that I had caught that morning. It was well-colored with full fins. Upon closer inspection I noted blood-red slash marks on its throat. I then noted large spots particularly on the rear of the trout. I quickly realized that I had caught a Bonneville cutthroat trout.
“Our local chapter of Trout Unlimited began a multiyear egg planting program on the White and North Fork rivers. The idea was to introduce another sustainable species of trout on our rivers that would reproduce naturally. It would hopefully be like our successful introduction of brown trout several years ago that has such a powerful impact on our fisheries. They started on the North Fork tailwater several years ago and added the White a couple of years later. It is a great project.
“The number one most desirable fish to catch on our rivers is now the Bonny or Bonneville cutthroat. I have caught several on the North Fork tailwater, including one that was 23 inches long. I was there when they planted the eggs, and catching one always brings a smile to my face. I had not caught one on the White, so this was a special occasion for me. Lori and I stopped fishing and took a minute to take a photo before carefully releasing it. I must say it felt a little strange to me to make this much fuss over an 11-inch trout but I considered this to be very special. I hope this is just the first of many beautiful wild Bonnies to come.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 674.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 915.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-16-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says it’s basically “September junk fishing right now.” The Army Corps of Engineers has been pumping the water out of Bull Shoals Lake this past week, which has some of the fish moving out on the points, and there is baitfish suspended deep off the points. The target range is 10-15 feet early in the morning, then going deeper to 22-28 feet with a drop-shot later in the day. “Find the bait, find the fish,” he said. “If it’s hot, go deep. If it’s cloudy and windy, go shallow.”
He says fish are getting up early for topwater baits, with poppers and Berkley Wake Baits also being good choices. He suggests trying Whopper Ploppers, buzzbaits or chatterbaits for powerfishing shallow water if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. Work major creeks about halfway back and out to the main lake. As the sun comes up, he says, change tactics. Smallies and Kentucky bass are stacked out along main and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swings, bluffs and bluff ends but are closer to main lake points in 26-32 feet depth. With shad present, fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, and so forth. The shad are moving and so are the fish. Try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue. Smallmouth bass are on gravel banks. Del says that at least the big crowds are thinning out now on the lake. There is still limited access to the ramps.
He says the lake clarity is dingy to clear. Surface temperature is 81 degrees. At his last check, the water level was 16.5 feet high and falling.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 562.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).

(updated 9-16-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the summertime heat had been forecast to cool down, “then we get a beautiful summer-type day in the upper 80s. Fishing has been going on steadily during the summer, but I haven’t had much time allotted to fishing. Over the last couple of weeks, I have been able to get back to somewhat of my normal routine, but I’m still not totally there yet. At least I have been out on the lake four or five times a week and actually have even been out in the afternoons, which is rare for me. I am mostly an early-morning fisherman.
“At this time, it appears that bass fishing is the best bite, with walleye running a close second. Crappie fishing is improving and I think it will take off shortly. If you are a bluegill fisherman, the bite is very good.
“I have been mainly trolling Berkley Flicker Minnows, size 7, in 25-32 feet of water. I am trolling at 1.4 mph with my trolling motor. I am still using 8-pound test monofilament line. I let out about 50 feet of line, then add on a snap weight with a 1-ounce sinker. I then let out another 50 feet of line. My bait is getting down to around 25 feet of water. With this method of fishing, I have caught almost all species in the lake except for striped and hybrid bass.
“The type of area that has been best for me is the long shallow main lake points that jet way out into the lake. I try to follow the ridge of the point or stay slightly off to one side or the other keeping in the strike zone depth. My main goal lately has been looking for walleye. The best part of fishing this method is that if the walleye are not biting at the time, there will be largemouth bass and spotted bass to take up the slack. On two different occasions over the last week the channel catfish were hammering the baits. I bounce around different areas of the lake, from the mid-lake area, then up northeast to the Cranfield area, and then farther upriver. I have been able to catch a lot of walleye, but a lot of them have been short. I believe I have landed more keeper-size bass over the last couple of weeks than I have in a long time. If you are not into trolling, you can cast out a jig or worm and work it back to the boat along the bottom. Vertical-jigging a spoon will also work for all these species. I would use a half-ounce to three-quarter-ounce spoon and move around slowly jigging along the bottom.
“Crappie fishing is also getting good. (Tuesday) one of my guests was checking out a couple of his go-to brushpiles and landed six nice keepers in the 12-to-13-inch size range. He missed many others. The bottom of the brush needs to be in 25-30 feet of water and the best brushpiles come up to about 15-20 feet of water. The crappie were on the tops as well as buried inside of the brush. Small quarter-ounce spoons were working for him, but small grubs or just crappie minnows should work as well.
“I have not been striper fishing since the beginning of August, but will get back to it shortly. There are several areas in the mid-lake area where this species will show up shortly. There are currently scattered stripers roaming the deep waters in the mid-lake area, as I have marked them and one of my guests got to land one trolling a deep-diving crankbait.”
Norfork Lake level is falling about 2-3 inches per day and sits at 562.73 feet msl as of Tuesday. The surface water temperature is starting to drop slightly and currently is in the very low 80s. The water is stained throughout the lake, but this will clear up as the water cools. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

(updated 9-16-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-16-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest 7.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 17.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are dropping at an increased rate, and wadable water could be weeks away.
John says the grasshopper bite is still around. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. John’s favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during from flooding over the last two years. 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 an egg pattern 18 inches below a cerise San Juan worm. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. With school starting expect less pressure during the week, but there is pressure on weekends. You should fish early or late to avoid the crowds. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms are still closed. 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 9-16-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. 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.