Cotter Trout Dock Sign
Established 1954
Catch a Rainbow!

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 11, 2019

We had a number of guided trout fishing customers at Cotter Trout Dock this week but nobody took any pictures. So we added some pictures from Big Spring Park next to Cotter Trout Dock.  Merry Christmas!!
Below the pictures is the Fishing Report from Arkansas Game and Fish.

White River

(updated 12-11-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River tailwaters of Bull Shoals Dam in the north-central Arkansas Ozarks, flowing past Cotter is running high and fast – and continues to produce great creel-fills for trout anglers, and for all anglers choosing to fill a creel or not. “Yes, water levels are high across the system from Beaver Lake through Table Rock Dam, into Bull Shoals and the White and North Fork rivers, and will remain high for the next weeks, but the sunny days and the promise of mild winter weather ignites that eternal hope of tight lines and a fighting trout.”
If bank fishing with a fat nightcrawler doesn't excite enough fish for you, get a guide –they know high-water navigation, trout behavior, and they can find enough trout to keep you busy all day long. The shrimp/egg combo has proven most successful this week. XFactor's shrimp pink hue remains a favorite of the rainbows. “We're still attracting some browns with mid-sized sculpins, although the spawn plays a big role in decreased bites. Don't be afraid to cast some big lures out there (less chance of getting hung up!) and the water depth will support a size 9 and size 11 Rapala Countdown, or a 3/8-ounce or better Rogue, swimming at 7 feet or deeper. Go with shiny gold sides and an orange belly first.
“The Trout Capital USA, Cotter, Arkansas, is lit up for Christmas like never before. Visit the park after sunset and see how we've decorated our Big Spring Park. We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a blessed new year.

(updated 12-11-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the past week, they had a brief rain event (just a trace in Cotter), cold temperatures (to include winter weather advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.3 feet to rest at 12.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 23.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.3 feet to rest at 1.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 14.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 8.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River and Table Rock Lake had heavy generation with additional flows from flood gates. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 3.1 feet to rest at 2.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy flows from the flood gates but no generation and no wadable water. 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 through 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 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 (sizes 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.
John also reminds anglers about the Sowbug Roundup, coming in early 2020: “The Sowbug Roundup is the annual fly-tying show sponsored by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers (a 501[c][3] tax-exempt organization) held in Mountain Home. This is considered to be the premier fly-tying event in this area of the country and arguably the best in the United States. The proceeds are earmarked to fund local college scholarships (in fishery or environmentally related fields) and other education and conservation projects.
“The Sowbug Roundup will be held on March 26-28, 2020, at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. It is only $10 admission for all three days. There will be 150 fly-tyers, vendors, seminars, casting classes and fly-tying instruction all at no additional charge. This year’s show will recognize noted fly-fisher and fly-tyer Dave Whitlock. He is a living legend.
“A key component of the Sowbug Roundup is the fly-tying contest. I am the chairman of the fly-tying contest committee and oversee it. We have been holding this contest for several years and it is a popular event. Other fly-tying shows have copied us and implemented their own fly-tying contest. The idea is to recognize the best fly-tyers among us and to promote the art of fly-tying. The ultimate fly-tying accessory is a winner’s plaque to hang over your fly-tying desk.
“Rules have been kept to a minimum. The entrant must tie the fly submitted for judging. Each entry must include the name, address, phone number and email address along with two flies for each pattern submitted (they must be exactly the same size, color, etc.). You need to include the recipe for the fly, instructions on how to fish it and the category you wish to have it judged in (judges reserve the right to change the category, if needed). There are 10 categories, nymph, dry fly, wet fly, streamer, smallmouth bass, bass, warm water, salmon/steelhead, salt water and tenkara. In addition, there is a best in show award. You may submit as many patterns for as many categories as you want. You can win a maximum of three categories (best in show is considered a category). All flies submitted will become the property of the contest and will not be returned. Any fly that contains insect parts (legs wings, etc.) will be eliminated from competition. Commercially tied patterns will not be accepted. The decision of the judges is final. Committee members and judges are not eligible to participate in the contest.
“To participate, all you have to do is send your flies, recipes and fishing instructions to me, John Berry, at 408 Combs Ave. Cotter, AR 72626 by Wednesday Feb. 12, 2020. The winners will be announced on Friday, March 27 at the Sowbug Roundup Shindig, which will be held at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church in Mountain Home.
“This is your chance to show how good you are. Anyone (except for members of the fly-tying committee) can enter. I look forward to seeing your flies.”

(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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 669.94 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 12-11-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the water is murky and continues to be high, at about 13 feet on Tuesday morning. “I haven’t seen it like this in 10 years,” Del said. Bass are good, but their running deep. Best baits have been Zara Spooks and Ice Jigs along with drop-shots. Crappie are good and are found around the shad. Use minnows and jigs and work the brushpiles. Walleye are being found around the rocky points around dusk. Bream are poor, as are catfish. Check out Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for his latest video reports and tips on catching the fish. Surface temperature on Tuesday morning was 55 degrees.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 555.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 12-11-2019) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake fishing has been really good over the last week for most species of fish. “I have mainly been targeting striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass and have had a blast. The striped bass are on their fall feed before the cold winter months.
I have found large schools of fish in a feeding frenzy. The best bite for the last couple of days has started a little after sunrise and has lasted until late morning. This time of year, however, they tend to feed all day long, especially on cloudy days with a little bit of wind.
“A great example was last Saturday. I had a hard time finding feeding fish early, but at about noon the fish started to go crazy and the bite lasted all afternoon. The old belief that if you find bait there will be fish feeding at some point is really holding true at this time. Best locations for me have been the large flats in the mid-lake area, such as Cranfield area, Mallard Point, 101 bridge, 101 Boat Dock area. There are others, but these are the ones I have been concentrating on. I am finding stripers in 35-50 feet of water with the fish at all depths. The bigger stripers and hybrids seem to be suspended up high in the water column, from 10-25 feet down.
“On the bottom I have found whites, but I have still found large schools on the bottom of the bigger fish. I have been fishing three different methods. I have used live minnows such as threadfin/gizzard shad and bigger shiners. I set the live bait at 15 and 23 feet down, but I think it would also work to cast out the bait with a split shot and move around slowly. The second method has been vertical-jigging with a spoon. Use a ½- to 1-ounce spoon. Drop your spoon to the bottom and jig it up and down off of the bottom. Be a little crazy with the spoon by using hard, fast pulls and also very slowly moving the spoon. I have caught several nice stripers when my spooning rod was put in the rod holder while I was answering the phone. The rod would just get buried. Keep an eye on your fish finder while you are jigging your bait on the bottom. When you start to mark fish up high, reel your bait up and hold on. I have caught the bigger fish while reeling up and sometimes they hit it just before I take the bait out of the water. Have your drag set loose or your line will break off or you’ll get your rod pulled out of your hands.
“My third method has been to cast out a ½-ounce silver Kastmaster Blade Bait. I do modify this bait by adding a white feather/hair jig trailer to the hook. I actual buy treble hooks with the feather/hair tied on. Gamakatsu makes a nice one. I use size 4 on the ½-ounce blade bait. I have been counting down about 8-10 seconds after I cast out the Kastmaster, then I start to retrieve the bait with slight jerk-and-stop motion to get the bait acting like a wounded minnow. Trolling is another great method of fishing at this time. Swimbaits, A-rigs and crankbaits are all producing some nice fish. Keep the bait 15-25 feet down.
“The last bit of info is that nature is currently providing a natural fish finder. Migratory seagulls are here and if you see these birds flying in a certain area and dive-bombing the water, go fish under the birds – there typically will be feeding fish under them. This happens annually in the fall and winter months and can be very helpful.”
Don’t forget to follow Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook and definitely press the like button for their page. “I have frequent posts giving some great fishing information for that day,” Lou says. Norfork Lake level is dropping very quickly now. The Corps of Engineers has the flood gates opened to bring the lake back to normal pool. The lake is currently dropping 6 or so inches per day and as of Tuesday sits at 555.12 feet msl. The surface water temperature has remained fairly stable over the last week and is in the 53-54 degree range. The lake is stained and will stay this way until the water level stabilizes. “Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

(updated 12-11-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 12-11-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 3.1 feet to rest at 2.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had heavy flows from the flood gates but no generation and no wadable water. 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 there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole from flooding the past two years. 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. 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.
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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 12-11-2019) 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.