Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 1, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report April 1, 2020.

White River

 (updated 4-1-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “The free fishing week was a really pleasant surprise and a huge hit with fishers coming to the river for a mess of trout! Families are finding time to be together and enjoy The Natural State in the great outdoors.” Water levels have ranged from minimum flow (below 100 cfs) to upwards of 15,000 cfs as short spurts of heavy releases are experienced usually in mid-afternoon. There is plenty of opportunity to fish "the rise" with red wigglers or plumped up nightcrawlers drifted mid-depth. Over the last few days, however, generation has been more consistent during the day with flows remaining at around 4,500 cfs (a unit and a half). The water level is perfect for some jigging. Orange and brown skirted jigs have been attracting larger rainbows, they report, “or tie a black feathered jig and you'll see some action. If you start early while the water level remains low, you can begin your catching day with a ¼-ounce silver and blue hammered spoon, and finish up with a Rapala Rainbow CD5. The shrimp/PowerBait mashup works well in between. Make health and safety as your No. 1 priority right now and keep angling for trophy trout on the river!”

(updated 4-1-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said Monday the river was clear and there are 2-3 generators running at the dam, so the water level has dropped a bit. The trout bite is good. Use waxworms with marshmallows, or PowerBait. Some anglers have caught some rainbows, they say, but hardly anyone is fishing.

(updated 4-1-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that during the past week they had several rain events (combined for about 1 inch), warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 6.7 feet to rest at 18.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 17.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.1 feet to rest at 7.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 8.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 8 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with a small bit of wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 12.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 13.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and no wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
The White has fished well. The hot has been Rim Shoals on lower flows. 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 pheasant tail nymph worm with a ruby midge suspended below it).
John said that the previous week they received about 3 inches of rain, and we had received several inches the week before, and we have already gotten even more rain this week. The lake levels that had recently dropped to a point where they were just a few inches from the top of power pool are now up about 8-10 feet higher than they were just a week before. When we have heavy rains like this, the Corps of Engineers frequently holds back water to prevent flooding. This is the main reason that the dams were built.
“When these holdbacks occur, it gives us the opportunity to fish lower water, when we have not been able to do so in quite some time. I check the Southwestern Power Administration prediction every day in order to identify these opportunities. I did this last Friday (the prediction that comes out on Friday covers Saturday, Sunday and Monday) and noted three days of low water predicted.
“On Saturday, I was unable to take advantage of the low water because I had to cut my grass. It had rained every day for the previous week and my grass was out of control. My sister, Ernestine, had scheduled a trip to Cotter to help me in my booth at the Sowbug Roundup. The Sowbug got canceled, but she came in for a visit and I knew that this would be my only opportunity to take care of my lawn before she came.
“On Sunday it rained. Now I will gleefully fish in the rain if I am working. I always say that nothing thins the herd like a little rain. Ernestine does not have serious raingear like my wife, Lori, and I have. She was hesitant to spend a day in the rain.
“The next day was much better and we had good, low, floatable water and some nice warm weather with no rain and gentle wind. We jumped at the chance to go fishing. We had not been outside much due to the coronavirus closures and we all had a case of cabin fever. We thought that a day on the river was just the thing. We could easily maintain a safe social distance from anyone else and maybe catch a few trout.
“I went early and launched the boat. I rigged up a couple of rods and began fishing. I had caught about a half-dozen trout when Lori called to tell me that she and Ernestine were at the ramp. I motored over and picked them up. I have not fished with my sister in 25 years, so I was excited to have her in the boat. I ran the motor while Lori and Ernestine fished. The fishing was good and they both caught several.
“We fished until noon and did well. It was nice to be outside again and was a real treat to fish with Ernestine again.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 678.79 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-1-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake is clear on the lower end. The surface temperature early Tuesday afternoon was 52 degrees. Bull Shoals is 19 feet high. Access on the lake is limited at the moment, Del reports. He says the crappie bite is random and anglers have had fair results. Use minnows or jigs. Black bass are good. A swimbait, jig, a little Ned rig and a shaky head all will work. Look for the best bite now in the spawning pockets. Del heard no reports on catfish or bream. Walleye are still being caught at night. White bass and walleye have not started spawning yet, he added. View Del’s YouTube videos (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for the latest in what’s biting and what Del is using, plus his tips on how to fish the various lures.

Norfork Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the lake’s elevation at 570.63 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 4-1-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “It was a great week to be on Norfork Lake. The biggest problem we had was the rising water and debris, which covered most of Bennett's Bayou on the north end of the lake. The first half of the week, striper fishing was on fire. Lots of stripers were caught trolling and fishing with live shad and shiners. The biggest caught in the bayou was 24 pounds. The bite was both morning and evenings. Once the sun came out on Thursday, fishing slowed down. Some of that was all the boats and the fish getting use to the bright sunlight.
“My son Sean decided to fish the Big Creek area on Friday and caught a fat 24-pound striper. They practiced CPR: catch, take picture and release. The water was clearer in the southern part of the lake. He caught stripers both Friday and Saturday well into the late mornings from Point 1 to 1C. The fish are shallow even if it’s deep water. Sean is using 5- to 7-inch gizzard shad on planer boards and free-lines. Stripers are still being caught around the bluff near Blue Lady resort and the flat above it and Crystal Cove.
“I have given up on spider-rigging for crappie right now due to the high water and instead I'm using one pole flipping the buckbrush with minnows and jigs. We fished Bennett's Bayou Thursday and caught a few for dinner. It took a while to figure out what brush and how deep the crappie were. We missed quite a few and caught some shorts. The good news is, as the weather warms and the lake levels off the crappie will start to move up to spawn. Minnows and small jigs will be the most productive baits to catch crappies in the brush. The best three creeks right now are Big Creek, Bennett's Bayou and Pigeon Creek.”

(updated 4-1-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 4-1-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 12.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 13.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and no wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The Army Corps of Engineers has opened the spillway gates on Table Rock and Norfork dams in an effort to lower the water level on these lakes quicker.
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 over 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 very well. 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 4-1-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. 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.