Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

February 5, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report February 5, 2020.

White River

(updated 2-5-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said trout fishing in the Arkansas Ozarks in the winter can take you by surprise. “In the past week, we put on our slickers during a sleety rain in the low 30s, then searched for our sunscreen on Sunday when temps reached nearly 80 degrees. Caught trout every day – no surprises there. Come equipped with a good selection of baits, especially in February and March with the wild changes in weather.
“In addition to unpredictable weather, the White River tailwater of Bull Shoals dam, has been extremely high and moving fast due to continued releases from the dam. Expect generation to remain in the 15,000-plus cfs range for the next several weeks, at least.”
White streamers with some good weight to them and added flash were popular with the anglers this week. Shiny silver spinners with white skirts brought success on the sunny days, as well as fuzzy egg patterns of varying colors (try peach first). Be creative in keeping your baits moving from near river bottom back up to top waters. To lure the browns, who are now moving away from spawning beds, alternate between a good-sized sculpin and a really big river minnow – Red Fins if you can find them. “Come on over and enjoy the river's surprises.”

(updated 2-5-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said clarity is a little cloudy and the river level still is high. The dam has six generators running. Despite that, the trout bite is excellent, they report. Rainbows have been “caught on everything.” PowerBait is a sure way to catch them. Browns are biting stick baits and white jigs. The rainbows being caught appear to be getting bigger, they report.

(updated 2-5-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they received half an inch of rain, cold temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 foot to rest at 6.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 29.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.6 foot to rest at 1.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 14.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.5 foot to rest at 7.4 feet above seasonal power pool. The White River had heavy generation. There was no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2.2 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spill gates on Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water levels on these lakes.
Due yet the rain last week, the area is now weeks if not months from wadable water.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is now open as of Feb. 1.
The White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. 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.
John also said, “Last weekend I heard some tragic news: Forrest Woods had passed away at 87 years of age. He had lived a full life and touched the lives of many people in the Twin Lakes area. He was a self-made man who had accomplished much. If you asked him what he did he said that he was a cattleman. His early career included working on the construction of Bull Shoals Dam. He was a cattle farmer, ran a construction company and was a trout fishing guide on the White River.
“He was an entrepreneur at heart and began a boat building business, Ranger Boats, behind a gas station in Flippin. He is considered to be an early developer of what is now known as the modern bass boat. His company grew and became the most widely recognized bass boat in the industry. He sold the company in 1987. Recently he was instrumental in starting Vexus, a new bass boat manufacturer. Along the way, he was a professional bass fisherman and was identified with the FLW bass fishing tour that was named after him. He was an early proponent of bass tournament fishing. Forrest put Flippin on the map.
“He was appointed to the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission by then-Gov. Mike Huckabee and served for seven years. He was chairman during his last year on the commission. The Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center was renamed in his honor. He is a member of the Professional Bass Fishing Hall of Fame, the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame, the International Boating Hall of Fame, National Marine Manufacturers Hall of Fame, Legends of the Outdoors Hall of Fame, Arkansas Game and Fish Hall of Fame, Arkansas Walk of Fame and the Arkansas Business Hall of Fame.
“Living in Cotter I frequently ran into him at local restaurants, like the White Sands Restaurant in Cotter or Diego’s Mexican Restaurant in Flippin. He was always smiling and always had a kind word.
“My wife, Lori, did some consulting work for Ranger Boats on employee relations several years ago. Every employee that she dealt with thought highly of Forrest and generally considered him the best boss ever.
“As an old trout fishing guide myself I have nothing but admiration for him. He had a huge impact on our area and the sport of fishing. He will be missed.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 666.49 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 2-5-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is murky and high by 7 feet. Surface temperature Tuesday afternoon was 48 degrees. Crappie are deep, about 40 feet. The bite is fair on minnows and jigs. Target the brushpiles. Black bass are fair. They are found deep around the schools of shads. Best success is fishing with spoons or a jigging rap. Stripers are being caught at 50 feet depth around schools of shad. No other reports. Del provides a video regularly on Youtube (Del Colvin/Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) in which he talks about various and timely methods to fish the lake, which baits are working best and areas to target.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 557.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 2-5-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

(updated 2-5-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 2-5-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.2 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had heavy flows and no wadable water. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spill gates on Bull Shoals and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water levels on these lakes.
The Norfork tailwater is fishing better. 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 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 (size 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 well. 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.
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 2-5-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. The smallmouths are much less active in the cold weather. 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.