Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 23, 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 23, 2020.

White River

(updated 9-23-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is slowly nearing its desired power pool level (the lake is now just 10 feet above pool). “We continue to see ample generation, lots of water feeding our prime fishing spots. Average generation has been 16,000 cfs, five units, during the past week.
“While the brown bite isn't as active as we wish it would be, we're still seeing a number of healthy browns brought in, photographed and released for another day. Keep a variety of live bait on board for the browns – sculpins first, then minnows and crawdad tails. Place your bait near the river bottom and to the sides of the main channel when generation is as high as it's been. The rainbows haven't been as picky; lots of success with pink or white worms and bubblegum pink mouse tails. Garlic-scented eggs on the eye of the hook will stir up some excitement and add to your creel count.
“Cooler autumn temperatures surprised us this week; it's time to add a layer or two in the early morning hours and prepare for warm afternoons. Thanks for sharing our love of the North Arkansas Ozarks in the Natural State.”

(updated 9-23-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says anglers are catching a lot of rainbows, and some big ones as well. Also, they caught some browns this past week, though nothing huge. Anglers reported several good-sized cutthroats caught as well. They report 8 generators running from Bull Shoals round-the-clock. River clarity “is really good,” they say, and the river level there is normal. Overall trout bite is excellent.

(updated 9-23-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Monday that over the past week they had no rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals is now 11.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 22.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 foot to rest at 1.5 feet below seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.4 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 18.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork 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 girdle bug suspended below it).

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 671.24 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.20 feet msl). Table Rock Lake above Bull Shoals on Wednesday was at 915.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool is 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 9-23-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that even though Bull Shoals Lake has dropped considerably since the summer, there is still limited access to the ramps. He says it’s “September junk fishing right now.” The Army Corps of Engineers has been pumping the water out, which has some of the fish moving out on the points, and there’s baitfish suspended deep off the points. Target 10-15 feet depth in the early morning, then 22-28 feet with a drop-shot later in the day. “Find the bait, find the fish,” Del says. If it’s hot, go deep. If it’s cloudy and windy, go shallow. He’s been getting up early for the topwater bite with poppers, and Berkley Wake Bait has been good. Try Whopper Plopper, a buzzbait or chatterbait for power fishing “shallow” if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. Work major creeks halfway back and out to the main channel. As the sun comes up, change tactics. Smallies and Kentucky bass (spots) are stacked out oblong main and secondary points, sunken islands, humps, channel swings, bluffs and bluff ends, but are closer to main lake points in 26-32 feet. With shad present, fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. The shad are moving and so are the fish. Try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or green pumpkin blue. Smallmouth are on gravel banks. Del notes that at least the big crowds are thinning on the lake, making angling better.
He says the clarity there is dingy to clear and the surface temperature is 87 degrees. At his last check, the lake was 14 feet high and falling (10 feet and falling on Wednesday).

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 561.00 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.95 feet msl).

(updated 9-23-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the bite for all species on Norfork Lake is getting better and better. September fishing can have its challenges due to the changing water temperatures, changing lake levels, and frontal systems, but all species are biting. “Not necessarily every day,” he says, “but I believe they call that fishing. The striped bass bite is getting pretty good. Crappie are moving back to the brush, so at least you know where to find them. The walleye bite has been good, but it does take some work to locate them. The bass bite is almost always good whether you like to catch them in shallow or in deep water.”
He says striped Bass fishing has really improved over the last week in various parts of the lake. “I have found two different patterns for this species, but time of the day may have something to do with it. Early in the morning, occasionally starting before sunrise, I have found stripers on large flats feeding heavily on shad. They can be anywhere from 20 feet of water out to 40 feet towards the bottom. They are starting to school and when you find that large school of fish it is a fantastic bite. Other times the fish are scattered out and it takes a little bit more effort to catch them. The early morning bite seems to last no later than 8 a.m. or so. This morning after the bite slowed on the flat where I was fishing, I decided to check out a different type of area for the striped bass. I have caught fish out in deep water along a bluff wall in past years, and this year appears to be the same. I was in 120-150 feet of water and the fish were suspended down 35-40 feet deep. I found a large school of feeding fish once in this area, but most of the time I was marking one to three fish at a time.
“I have been using several different methods to catch striped bass. I have been slow trolling a Berkley Flicker Minnow, size 7 and 9, with a 1-ounce snap on weight about 50 feet behind the bait with another 50 feet of line out. (This method is mainly for the flats.) I am also starting to vertical jig with a ¾-ounce spoon more often than I troll. I have jigged up stripers in both of these areas. The hardest part about fishing for suspended fish with a spoon is getting it down to the right depth. If you have a fish finder than picks your spoon up, this makes it simple, but if it does not, you need to either count down your bait, my rod and bait takes 8 seconds to get down to 40 feet, or drop it to the bottom and count the cranks up until you get to the desired depth. The stripers will continue to move around and as the water cools and the lake turns over the fish will be in many different types of area.
“Crappie fishing has been good, but has had its ups and downs, I believe due to the various frontal systems that has gone through our area. The best areas have been brush piles that are in 20-30 feet of water. The fish will either be suspended on the top of the brush or buried inside of it. Small jigging spoons or small plastics with a twister tail or a paddle tail are working great. Live minnows either on their own or tipped on a plastic jig will also work well. I have found crappie on both main lake brush, as well as, brush back in a creek.
“Walleye fishing has slowed a little, but we are still picking up some nice ones, along with a lot of shorts. Early in the morning and prior to sunrise they are being caught on long rocky points that jet out into the lake. They have typically been on the sides anywhere from 16 feet deep, down to 32 feet deep. During the day and late afternoon, they seem to be in 25-34 feet of water. Crawler harnesses with a bottom bouncer or trolling with a minnow style crankbaits are both working. Drop-shot rigs should also work with either a nightcrawler or large minnow. As the water cools, they will move up tight onto the shoreline and casting for them will start to work better, especially early and late in the day.
“Bass fishing has been good and they are being found in many different areas. Casting topwater baits, spinners and buzzbaits are working for the very shallow fish, especially where there is lots of brush still under water. There will be many shorts in shallow water, but there will also be a few lunkers. Jigs and worms are also working along the bluffs and out in 15-30 feet of water. Vertical-jigging spoons will pick up some nice fish. Work the deeper water, as well as, jigging near or on brush. Several days ago, I was trolling my Flicker Minnow out in 80 feet of water and picked up some really nice largemouth that were suspend down 25 feet. Bass are on main lake points, as well as, back in the creeks.”
Norfork Lake level is falling and currently sits at 561.18 feet msl. The lake surface temperature Tuesday morning was in the high 70s, Lou said. The main lake and creeks are stained but should start to clear as the lake continues to cool. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-23-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 18.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork Lakes are dropping at an increased rate and wadable water could be weeks away.
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 9-23-2020) 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.