Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 28, 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 28, 2020.

White River
(updated 10-28-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake has reached the established power pool elevation of 659 feet msl, “which means we have some mornings of pretty low water with (mostly) gentle releases later in the day. Keep your eye on the water level if you're out wading; it can sneak up on you and make reaching the bank a little tricky.
“Several days of rain and cool temperatures have kept some folks off the river, but the catching remains good and sunshine is forecast for the next week with perfect fall days predicted. Cold mornings and warmer afternoons will pull anglers back to the river. Some flashes of gorgeous autumn colors are seen throughout the Cotter area.
“Nightcrawlers and red wigglers have been flying off the shelves as they've proven successful for many of our bank anglers; sculpins continue to get some attention from the browns but as the spawn begins the browns will try to ignore your bait. Annoy them repeatedly and you'll get some action if only in an attempt to make you leave. Favorite artificial bait this week is any rainbow trout lookalike, and white jigs (Maribou jigs or White River Zigjigs if you can find them.) Come join the action and enjoy the changing of the season.”

(updated 10-28-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the bad weather has resulted in very little fishing report available. The clarity is “really good,” though. The level is low, as the Corps of Engineers is turning off the flow from the dam.

(updated 10-28-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that over the past week they have had a few rain events (combined for three quarters of an inch in Cotter), cooler temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.1 feet to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 37.2 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 foot to rest at 3.1 tenth feet below seasonal power pool and 17.1 feet above the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below seasonal power pool and 11.2 feet below the top of flood pool.The White had light generation overnight and moderate generation during the day and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 0.4 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night and moderate generation all day. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below the power pool, meaning anglers should have wadable water.
The grasshopper bite is still going on. 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 White has been fishing 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 size 14 pheasant tail nymph).
John also said, “Last week I had a client, Ed, who wanted three days of guided fishing. I had the first day available but was scheduled to guide Ron and Larry for a half-day the next afternoon and another half-day the next morning. I suggested to Ed that I could guide him on the first full day, the next morning on the second day and then the afternoon on the third day. He agreed. The first day fishing with Ed at Rim Shoals went well, but on the second day everything got interesting.
“I fished at the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. The morning went well with Ed catching several trout, with the largest being a fat 23-inch rainbow. He wanted to fish there again the next day. Ron and Larry did well with several nice trout up to 20 inches. They said that they enjoyed fishing the dam but wanted to fish some new water and preferred to fish at Rim Shoals.
“That complicated my life a bit. It had been relatively easy to fish two half-days at the same spot but it got a bit busier when I had to fish two different areas that were 24 miles apart (those are river miles).
“I met Ron and Larry at the McDonalds in Gassville. They followed me over to the Rim Shoals Ramp. We were on the water by 8 a.m. It was a cool start but promised to warm up. We were fishing girdle bugs below cerise San Juan worms. We caught some nice trout. Then about mid-morning Larry hooked a big trout. It took quite a while to land. It turned out to be a 26-inch stout male brown trout. We took some photos and gently released him. A drift or two later, Ron caught a big beautiful rainbow. We fished until noon and then I headed for the ramp.
“I left the ramp at 12:22 p.m. and was due to meet Ed at a 1. That gave me 38 minutes to eat lunch and drive from Rim Shoals to Bull Shoals Dam. About this time, I realized that I had left the sandwich that my wife, Lori, had made for me at home. I stopped at the Exxon station n Gassville and bought a package of crackers and headed for the dam.
“I arrived at 1 p.m. and Ed was waiting for me. I quickly launched the boat. We were fishing a girdle bug below a cerise San Juan worm and a midge dropper. Fishing a 3 fly rig is new to me but it had worked well the previous afternoon. On the first drift, we landed two nice rainbows. I thought that I had it figured out. We went three hours without a bump. I was concerned and running out of time. At the end of the day, I announced that this would be the last drift. Halfway through it, Ed hit a big one. It was pulling line out at will. It took about 10 minutes to get it to the net. It was a stout 24-inch brown. Ed was pleased. This is why he came here. We went back to the ramp and we both headed home.
“What a day! I had two different clients catch trophy browns in two spots 24 miles apart, on the same day. Life is good!”

Bull Shoals Lake
|As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 657.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 10-28-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the Army Corps of Engineers has been slightly slowing the generation and the shad are getting balled up more. There are baitfish pushing toward the backs of creeks. “I have been doing better toward the back of creeks and some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels. The topwater bite has slowed drastically.”
Del suggests trying spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, or square bills for powerfishing “shallow” if there’s bushes with deeper water close and shad, if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. As the sun comes up, change tactics and slow down. Fish the pockets, channel swings and transitions with wind. Brushpiles are getting good if there are shad present. The fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. Keep it moving. The jig bite is picking up. Try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange, green pumpkin blue, or a green pumpkin orange shaky head. Lake clarity ranges from dingy to clear depending on location. Surface water temperature is 67 degrees. Water level is normal.

Norfork Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 10-21-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says this past week they saw a major cool down of Norfork Lake. This week, with the predicted rain, anglers on Norfork should see a push up the creeks by the stripers to find schooling bait and cold water. “I fished both Bennett's Bayou and above the Missouri line. Both places are holding fish, but only Missouri has the most consistent bite. I usually start off above Point 10 in 11 feet of water at first light and wait until the school comes sometime between 6:3-7:30 a.m.. This week when it did we hooked three and landed them all at the same time. By 7:30 I moved out to deeper water and fished that until 9 a.m. Then I moved down below Point 10 and fished the deeper channel waters. The trollers are having great success in the shallow water trolling small crankbaits. I saw two boats catch their limit of stripers in less than two hours. I'm still using big gizzard shad up to 8 inches. It seems the bigger baits are working the best, but the trollers are using small baits but trolling fast.
“Bennett's Bayou has a similar pattern. I start off at the cow pasture point in 12 feet of water and fish the area until the sun comes up. I then move off into deeper waters and fished the channel edge. The stripers are not very active there, but as the water cools down it will be a major spot to fish. I have seen a few trollers and some fish are being caught around 10 a.m., but not many yet. The evenings are still the best time to fish the bayou right now.
The walleye are being caught on crankbaits trolled on long flats above Cranfield Marina. Crappie is a strong bite right now on 30 feet brushpiles, with small spoons, jigs and minnows being your best baits. Detailed maps of the new brushpiles are available at various locations around the lake.

(updated 10-28-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 10-28-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 0.4 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night and moderate generation all day. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below the power pool, meaning anglers should have wadable water.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the flooding of the past 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 a pheasant tail size 14 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 in seassion, and expect less pressure during the week. Weekends can be pretty busy. 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. 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-28-2020) 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.