Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 7, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report October 7, 2020.

White River

(updated 10-7-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “These perfect Arkansas Ozark autumn days — cool mornings, warm, sunny afternoons — are unmatched for making memories on the White River. After several months of steady to heavy generation from Bull Shoals Dam, the lake is approaching the October power pool of 659 elevation so expect the flow of water from the dam to decrease some time in the next few weeks. Over the next couple of weeks, though, continue to keep your baits nearer the banks where the river is running swifter and deeper.
“The rainbow bite has been steady and plentiful here on the tailwaters of Bull Shoals Lake in the Cotter area. The brown bite has slowed some, but a sculpin drifted near the bottom can still generate the desired outcome. The Vibrax Blue Fox spinner, 3/16-ounce gold, or the bright chartreuse with a partially silver blade, were providing a steady catch of 12- and 13-inch rainbows.
“October has brought a lot of anglers to the Arkansas Ozarks and our natural resources have stayed strong. The rainbows have been healthy and brightly colored ... and growing! The German Brown bite continues to be a little slower than we'd like, but don't be surprised if you attract one or two with just shrimp and PowerBait. Join us. The river will capture your heart.”

(updated 10-7-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says fishing is “absolutely great.” They say that anglers are starting to catch browns again. Overall, people are catching a lot of fish. One guide on Monday had over 70 fish, they report, including 4-5 brown trout. River level Tuesday afternoon was normal; they report that eight generators are running round-the-clock from Bull Shoals Dam.


(updated 10-7-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said this weekend that over the past week they had about a half inch, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.7 feet to rest at 7.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 28.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 foot to rest at 2.8 feet below seasonal power pool and 16.8 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.8 feet to rest at 4.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are dropping at an increased rate and wadable water could be three weeks away.

“The grasshopper bite is upon us,” John says. “Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. My favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8. Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch.” 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).
Remember that the White River is infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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.


Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 664.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 10-7-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that with the water now just 6 feet above normal and dropping, the ramps at open. The Corps of Engineers has been pumping the water out.  There are baitfish suspended throughout the lake. Del suggests starting in the back third of a major creek. Some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels. Topwater is good; poppers and wake baits are good as well. Try Whopper Plopper, buzzbait, and if they miss try throwing a popper until the bite stops, then spinnerbait, Chatterbait, and square bill for powerfishing “shallow” if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. As the sun comes up, change tactics and move out. Smallies and Kentucky bass are stacked out on main and secondary points, pockets, channel swings, bluffs and bluff ends but are closer to main lake points with wind. With shad present, fish position will change depending on the sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. The shad are moving and so are the fish. Also try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange or GP blue orange. Smallmouths are on gravel banks.
The lake clarity is dingy to clear and the surface temperature is now down to 70 degrees. The level is falling fast now.
Check out Del’s YouTube reports under Del Colvin or Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock for the latest news and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 557.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 10-7-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says September was a difficult month for striper fishing. The lower end of the Norfork Lake was oxygen-deprived and the stripers were shut down completely. The Missouri side of Norfork Lake offered some good fishing but was very inconsistent. The upper part of the lake had cooler water and better oxygen, but the fish were smaller. “We are now starting our fall pattern as the oxygen has returned to the mid-lake area, like Robinson Point area and the creeks. The water temperature at Udall is 62 degrees and near Point 10 is 67 degrees while the main lake is around 70 degrees. The cool nights will keep the water temps from going up much, but this week we will see some 80-degree days that will keep the water temperature stable.”
Tom says he has tried fishing Big Creek and found little success but that should change as the water cools. “The best bite is still at the state line and above but again as that 62 degree moves down expect to see more fish at Calamity Beach and Twin Coves in the next several weeks. I did fish Robinson Point with some success but again it's very inconsistent. The stripers are staying between 35-45 feet of water on the ridge along the channel off the Robinson Point Island. They are also suspended at that depth in small groups all around the area in deep water.”
He says the largemouth and white bass are starting to school and some topwater action is happening in the early morning and late afternoon on the flats all around the lake. As the shad begin to move from the shallows and school, you will see lots of action in the next several weeks. Crappie are now on the brushpiles and biting on small spoons, jigs and minnows.

(updated 10-7-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing in October can be lots of fun, but also can be inconsistent. There are many changes going on in the lake, which affect the movement of the predator fish and bait. The water temperature starts to cool and the main thing is that the lake turns over. The lake is in the process of turning over, but it has been very gradual. The thermocline has dropped to somewhere between 50-60 feet and will continue to fall until the lake totally flips.
There has been a really good bite for bass. Largemouth and spotted bass can be found all over the lake. If you like topwater fishing, throw your favorite topwater bait onto points where you can see sunken brush still out in the water. The fish are inside of it and will come up and slam the bait. Spinnerbait, lipless crankbaits, regular diving crankbaits and jigs are all working in different areas. The bass are also on the bluffs, especially on points of large coves or small cuts in the bluff wall. Smallmouth bass are starting to show up as well. Keep your eyes open for topwater action. The bass will chase shad out in open water just about anywhere, but especially on the large flats.

Crappie fishing is also picking up nicely. This species has been moving back to the brush and they can be found at varying depths. Brush in 15 feet of water out to brush in 35 feet of water may be holding crappie. Small spoons, small twister tail or paddle tail grubs and live minnows on a slip float are all working. The fish can be at any depth over the brush from 7 feet down to the bottom. The depth of the fish will vary depending on the time of day.
White bass have finally come out of the depths of the lake and are showing up in different locations. Lou says, “Last evening, I was checking out a large flat outside of a cove and starting to hear what I thought was surface-feeding fish. I could not see any, so I started to head toward the sound. I finally saw white water on the other side of the lake along a long deep bluff line. There were schools of whites feeding heavily. They didn’t stay up long, and kept moving around. I stopped the boat in an area where I had seen the fish come up and waited. It was not long before they came up again and again. I had my half-ounce Kastmaster tied on and started to cast. I worked the bait in a jerk, stop and reel motion and kept it close to the surface and they loved it. From about 5:45 p.m. until 6:45 p.m. they were active. When it started to get dark, the topwater in this deep-water area stopped. I heard some activity on the shallow side of the lake and headed that way. I found hybrids and whites feeding heavily in very shallow water, 5 feet or less. The hybrids were coming completely out of the water at least a foot above the surface; it was amazing to see and very fun to catch. Topwater baits such as a Zara Spook would have worked great, but I can cast a Kastmaster farther.
“Striped bass fishing has been very inconsistent. I have found them off a large flat in the mid-lake area, as well as out in very deep water. On the flat the fish were in 45-55 feet of water suspended to the bottom, and in the deep water they have been suspended 35-60 feet down in 100-plus feet of water. I have caught fish in this area by vertical jigging a ¾-to-1-ounce spoon. Live bait may work better. As the lake continues to cool and the turnover completes, this species will become very active and start to feed very heavily.”
The surface lake temperature has ranged 69-73 degrees depending on location and time of day. The lake is still falling about 3 to 4 inches per day and currently sits at 557.05 feet msl. The water is stained, but does start to clear more as you head south. “I forecast a great fall fishing season, so get ready to have some fun. Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 10-7-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Monday that Norfork Lake fell 1.8 feet to rest at 4.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water at night. Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes are dropping at an increased rate and wadable water could be three weeks away.

The Norfork is fishing well. 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 an egg pattern eighteen inches below a cerise San Juan worm. The fishing is better in the morning.

Dry Run Creek is fishing well. There is less pressure with school starting, we can expect less pressure during the week. Brown trout have begun moving into the creek. 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), mop flies and egg patterns.

Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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 said, “I had a call from a prospective client requesting a guide trip on Dry Run Creek for his two sons, age 5 and 7. This is usually a bit young to fish the creek. We talked about whether we would fish a full day or a half day. We agreed that it would be a challenging to keep their attention for a full day and we agreed on a half day.

“My wife, Lori, was not busy that day and agreed to join me to help with the two lads. That way we could give them more individual attention. The boys both had their own waders so we were able to fish a few spots that could not be effectively fished from the bank. I arrived a few minutes early and put on my waders and rigged a couple of rods. Lori joined me a few minutes later, because she was feeding and walking our two Labrador Retrievers.

“We began catching trout right at the start. I was surprised that there were not many other anglers on the creek and we were able to move around and fish several spots. Both boys caught several trout and even landed a trophy brown. Dad was stoked and thought it was a great day. About 10:30 AM they began running out of gas. We decided to fish our way out. We worked toward the parking lot.

“About that time, I noted that the creek was getting cloudy. This occurs when they are cleaning the raceways in the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It flushes a lot of food and maybe a dead trout or two into the creek through the hatchery discharge pipes. It always produces a feeding frenzy. Lori noticed several large trout keying in on this. The fly rods were already rigged with white mop flies, the perfect fly to fish this situation. It was white and was quite visible in the cloudy water. It was also and looked like a small fish.

“The action began on the first cast, when a twenty five inch rainbow hit the fly. While we were fighting that one, the other lad hooked another rainbow that was just as large. Over the next ten minutes we landed around ten trophy trout. The action was non-stop. I could hardly catch my breath. Just as fast as it began it ended. The water cleared and the big trout returned to their original lies.

“We fished a little longer, but the boys were done. They had landed around ten trout each including plenty of trophy fish. They were worn out but wanted to return soon. Dad was definitely ready to do it again. Lori and I were pleased with the outcome and celebrated by having lunch at Whispering Woods.

“Don’t let cloudy water on Dry Run Creek deter you. It generally produces a successful day.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 10-7-2020) 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 here 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.