Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 18, 2019

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report xxxxxxx, 2016.

White River

(updated 12-18-2019) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said tailwaters throughout the White River watershed are all very high. Releases from Bull Shoals Dam into the White River have been at the maximum turbine rate with additional spillway releases for at least the past seven days. The brave and the bold are accepting the challenge and have been on the river catching trout. Shiny spinners, up to 3/8-ounce or greater, with red or blue blades, are pulling them in. Pay close attention to the tug on your line because, with the swift current, discerning a trout bite from a snag might be trickier than usual.
“High water and cooler temperatures have kept river traffic to a minimum over the last week, so you'll find one of the most peaceful, relaxing angling excursions of the year. We'll all be taking a break from publishing reports over the next couple of weeks, so you'll have to come out and make your own stories. My predictions over the Christmas break: Bull Shoals Lake will reach, or get very near, power pool level and water releases will slow dramatically. Two days after the first low water day, you won't be able to keep your line in the water longer than a minute or two because you'll be pulling in trout after trout.
“If you make New Year’s resolutions, here's one you'll find easy to keep for 2020: ‘Schedule a trout fishing trip this spring and one in the summer.’
“Have joyous, blessed Christmas and a wonder-filled new year. See you at the river.”

(updated 12-18-2019) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said they’ve had one boat out in three days running the spillway. The water is so high they cannot see the dock. “We’re looking forward to great fishing when the water drops back down,” they say.

(updated 12-18-2019) 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 4.4 feet to rest at 7.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 28.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 foot to rest at 0.9 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 7.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White and Table Rock, there was heavy generation with additional flows from flood gates. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2.2 feet to rest at 0.3 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.9 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 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. This section will open to fishing Feb. 1.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the Wildcat 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 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.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 665.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 12-18-2019) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the clarity of the water is cloudy. Surface temperature is 54 degrees and the level is 8 feet high, a drop of 4 feet from last week. Crappie are fair. They are in 20-40 feet of water. Fish with small spoons where you find shad. Also use minnows or jigs. Target the brushpiles, too. Black bass are fair. They’re best found in deep water. Wiggle Wart crankbaits are working well, along with Rock Crawler. Also try a spinnerbait. Catfishing is poor. Bream are poor. 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 553.87 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 12-18-2019) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 12-18-2019) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.2 feet to rest at 0.3 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.9 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 over the past couple of years due to flooding. 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, and school is about to go on winter break so there will be more anglers. 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 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 12-18-2019) 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.