Cotter Trout Dock Sign
Established 1954
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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 4, 2019


Below are some photos of our guided trout fishing customers taken this week at Cotter Trout Dock. 
Click images to enlarge.
Below the pictures is the Fishing Report from Arkansas Game and Fish.


White River

(updated 12-4-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Being downstream from Bull Shoals Dam, we are experiencing a fairly heavy generation schedule due to persistent, if intermittent, rains along the White River watershed. Over the past week, Bull Shoals Dam has been issuing four to five generators consistently (12,000 to 15,500 cfs) and recently added approximately two more units (5,200 cfs) of spillway water to the flow. All in all, this river denizen believes the 2019 management of the White River system has been excellent. Challenging for anglers, but not impossible; it forces us to use every trick in our tackle boxes.
“Best time for 3/8-ounce or better stick baits, swimming 4-6 feet deep. Shiny and bright. Gold body, orange belly. You can continue to cast spinners, but increase the weight to ¼-ounce. Pink or blue blades on the Blue Fox Vibrax have lured some nice rainbows this week. If you like to stick to the scented egg pattern route (and it works most times), try lemon lime or pink. The X-Factor shrimp hue, both in egg patterns and 3-inch worms, is winning a lot of converts. Take a break from the season's hustle and bustle and join us for an hour or two of peace on the river. Stop in for some Christmas conversation when you visit the Trout Capital USA, Cotter, Arkansas.”

(updated 11-27-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) the Corps of Engineers has been running 3 generators and the river is falling out. The water is clear. Anglers have been catching all rainbows. Two anglers caught 60 rainbows. Overall, the bite is good. Shrimp and Power Worms work best, along with stick baits and long white worms.

(updated 12-4-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had several rain event (almost an inch in Cotter), cold temperatures (to include winter weather advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.6 feet to rest at 13.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 22.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1.1 feet to rest at 3.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 12.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.6 foot to rest at 9 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.6 foot below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with some limited wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1 foot to rest at 6.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation with and no wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to heavy rains over the last few weeks all of the lakes in the White River System are now over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the near future.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until 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. The section will reopen to fishing on Feb. 1.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the 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 high water San Juan worm with an egg pattern suspended below it). Use long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.
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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 670.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 12-4-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the water is muddy and is about 12 feet high this week. Surface temperature Tuesday midafternoon was 55 degrees. He says bream are good and biting redworms and crickets. Crappie are found about 20 feet depth and the bite is good; fish around the brushpiles. Black bass are fair on plastic worms. Walleye are being caught in about 30-40 feet depth on spoons and jigs. No reports on catfish. 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 558.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 12-4-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said he experienced a fantastic bite Tuesday morning for hybrids, stripers and white bass, and he expects that as long as the weather stays stable, he believes the late fall bite will be fantastic.
Lou adds, “ I hope all had a great Thanksgiving. Linda and I hosted Linda’s side of the family at the resort and we had a great time and ate way too much. One of our meals during the week was a Norfork Lake Crappie fish fry, and, boy, was it good.”
He says Norfork Lake fishing has had some ups and downs this fall with all the changing weather patterns. “This was especially true last week when I fished with family members every day except when the weather was too rainy or too windy. We caught some fish, but it was definitely a difficult fishing week. The last frontal system past through us (Monday) morning, so the lake had a day to stabilize and (Tuesday) was a fantastic fishing and catching day.
“I began doing a lot of graphing. I started out on the 101 bridge flat and found a lot of bait out in 70-plus feet of water, but very few fish. I headed back to the Cranfield Island flat and graphed, but saw little. I then headed back to the Pigeon Creek area and again found lots of bait and also found more fish, but the fish were scattered and did not appear to be feeding. I checked out a few other areas with little success until about 9:30 a.m. Once again on a large flat, I found streams of bait 20 feet thick with schools of fish on top of the bait. They did not appear to be feeding, but within 15 minutes the bait began to scatter and more and more fish appeared in a feeding frenzy, which lasted for the next 2 hours. I was in 30-40 feet of water and was vertical-jigging a spoon. After spooning up my first hybrid I decided to set out two down lines with live threadfin shad. I set one at 23 feet and the other was at 30 feet. It did not take long until the live bait was getting hit. To show how good the bite was, at one point I had my spoon on the bottom and saw that I missed a bite on a live bait. I set my spooning rod in a rod holder and started to reel in the live bait rod. I heard a rattling and saw my spooning rod double over. I landed a nice 10-pound hybrid. The stripers and hybrid have been very mobile, so you need to keep looking at the different flats on the lake, once you find the bait start looking around for feeding fish, if none move to the next flat. The fish will be somewhere feeding. I often go back to the same flat where I had found bait and fish at a later time and many times the fish have gotten energized.
“When you find the feeding frenzy of fish, all species may be in the same area. Today I landed walleye and crappie on the spoon. Other days largemouth bass have been plentiful. With all the scattered fish I am marking, it might be a great time to troll. Keep your bait at 20-30 feet and stay in 40-70 feet of water. If you can stay on the bait, you will catch some nice fish. Umbrella rigs, A-rigs, swimbaits or deep diving crankbaits are good baits to troll with.
“In general, crappie are still hanging in the brush on the tops of the brush. They will be anywhere from 8-25 feet down on brush in 40 feet or less. Don’t hesitate to check out some very shallow brush on these sunny days, the crappie may move up.
“Bass fishing has basically stayed the same as my last report. Early and late in the day look up in 10-20 feet of water. Work a jig or worm slowly along the bottom. As you know I like to find the deep bass. They will be in 25-40 feet of water on underwater drop offs or rock piles and will also be chasing the bait fish along with all the other species of fish.”
Norfork Lake level is falling rapidly and currently sits at 558.96 feet msl, the Corps of Engineers has opened the flood gates to bring the lake level back to normal pool. The lake will be dropping about 5 to 6 inches per day for the next week or so, based on Corp. of Engineers communications. (Typically, with the lake level falling, the bait and fish tend to move out of the creeks to the main lake or at least to the mouths of the creeks.) The lake is somewhat stained and will stay this way until the water level stabilizes. The surface lake temperature this morning was 53.5 to 54.5 degrees. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 12-4-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1 foot to rest at 6.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy generation with and no wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to heavy rains over the last few weeks all of the lakes in the White River System are now over the top of power pool. Expect heavy generation for the near future.
The Norfork has been fishing poorly on the high flows. The dissolved oxygen level is improved. 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 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. 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 12-4-2019) 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.