Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 4, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report November 4, 2020.

White River

(updated 11-4-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River watershed, which includes Beaver Lake, Table Rock Lake and their tailwaters, in addition to Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes, saw several feet rise in elevation due to rainfall this past week. Releases from Bull Shoals Dam into the White River, however,have remained fairly low with opportunities to wade fish in some areas. A better quality of rainbows cropped up this past week to the delight of all the trout anglers here.Best bait was the steelhead orange XFactor egg pattern, sometimes combined with shrimp, sometimes stand alone. The browns are being finicky and very selective about what they'll nibble. Sculpins seemed to be the only bait that attracted the browns.Probably the bigger factor for a slow brown trout bite was the exceptionally bright, brilliant and beautiful full moon this week. The water level is perfect for some jig fishing; try a pink jighead with white skirt. “Take advantage of this terrific weather we've been promised: sunny warm days are perfect for an escape to the river. See you there!”

(updated 11-4-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says this week was much improved over last week. The clarity is “really good.” River level is normal, with the Army Corps of Engineers running 2-4 generators at Bull Shoals Dam. The trout bite was good. Rainbows are doing really well, they report, while browns are “doing OK.” The catch-and-release area below Bull Shoals is closed until February.

(updated 11-4-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that over the past week they have had four days of rain that combined for 6 inches in Cotter, along with cooler temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.7 feet to rest at 2.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 33.5 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 3.4 feet to rest at 1.8 feet below seasonal power pool and 13.7 feet above the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 3.4 feet to rest at 1.8 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.8 feet below the top of the flood pool. The White had light generation overnight and moderate generation during the day and limited wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 3.1 feet to rest at 2.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.3 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water this week. All of the lakes in the White River system are above the power pool.
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 (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 San Juan worm with a size 14 pheasant tail nymph).
John said that a week ago onMonday, “I had a three-client guide trip on the White River. Three client trips are always problematic. You have more people in the boat, limiting movement. You have to rig and maintain three rods, which uses more flies, leaders and tippets. You have more lunches to supply and you have to make sure everyone catches trout.
“The weather on Monday was tough to say the least. The temperature at starting time was in the mid-40s and promised to drop all day. Rain was to begin at 11 a.m. and last all day and night. I dressed carefully that day. I wore polypropylene long underwear top and bottom. I added a pair of fleece pants and a wool sweater. I topped that with a micro puff-filled jacket. I added heavy wool socks and wool fingerless gloves. A heavy Gore-Tex insulated hat, waders and a heavy duty rain jacket finished off my ensemble. In the beginning, I was quite comfortable.
“We began drifting and catching trout. It took a few minutes to figure out the top fly. It turned out to be an egg fly suspended under a cerise San Juan Worm.
“About 10 a.m., it began raining. It was light at first. As the morning went on, it increased, the wind picked up, the temperature dropped and the water level came up. My hands were wet and cold. The wind was blowing the rain in my face and my glasses were heavily spotted with rain. My clients had the same problem. I found a protected spot to get out of the rain for lunch. It was nice to get out of the rain but it was still cold. We dawdled over lunch for a while and eventually returned to the river.
“The wind and rain conspired with the higher water to make the fishing tougher. My clients were cold and wet but wanted to continue fishing. The wind caused several monumental line tangles. It was difficult to untangle them with cold, wet hands. My glasses were streaked with water and vision was difficult at best. I had to pull up to the bank to rerig the rods. Since my glasses were useless, I removed them. The tippet was sticking to my wet hands, making the process even more difficult. I eventually accomplished the task and returned to fishing. We continued to catch fish although the catch slowed. We finally finished the day and I returned home.
“I was in a hurry to get inside and warm up. I left my boat uncovered and went in for the night. It continued to rain all night. I neglected to pull the plug. When I went out, the next day I had about 6 inches of water in my boat. I pulled the plug and, once the rain stopped, I dried out my boat and gear and put my boat cover on. The whole process took a couple of hours.
“I was glad to be out of the cold and wet. We caught fish but it was challenging. I miss the summer.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 662.24 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.92 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 11-4-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the surface water temperature took a 5-degree drop from this time last week and is at 62 degrees.The lake remains dingy to clear and is at a normal level. Like last week, the Army Corps of Engineers has been slightly slowing the generation and the shad are getting balled up more. There are baitfish pushing toward the backs of creeks. “I have been doing better toward the back of creeks and some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels. The topwater bite has slowed drastically.”
Del suggests trying spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, or square bills for powerfishing “shallow” if there’s bushes with deeper water close and shad, if it’s cloudy or stormy. Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. As the sun comes up, change tactics and slow down. Fish the pockets, channel swings and transitions with wind. Brushpiles are getting good if there are shad present. The fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. Keep it moving. The jig bite is picking up. Try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange, green pumpkin blue, or a green pumpkin orange shaky head.

Norfork Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 556.89 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 10-21-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters says this past week they saw a major cool down of Norfork Lake. This week, with the predicted rain, anglers on Norfork should see a push up the creeks by the stripers to find schooling bait and cold water. “I fished both Bennett's Bayou and above the Missouri line. Both places are holding fish, but only Missouri has the most consistent bite. I usually start off above Point 10 in 11 feet of water at first light and wait until the school comes sometime between 6:3-7:30 a.m.. This week when it did we hooked three and landed them all at the same time. By 7:30 I moved out to deeper water and fished that until 9 a.m. Then I moved down below Point 10 and fished the deeper channel waters. The trollers are having great success in the shallow water trolling small crankbaits. I saw two boats catch their limit of stripers in less than two hours. I'm still using big gizzard shad up to 8 inches. It seems the bigger baits are working the best, but the trollers are using small baits but trolling fast.
“Bennett's Bayou has a similar pattern. I start off at the cow pasture point in 12 feet of water and fish the area until the sun comes up. I then move off into deeper waters and fished the channel edge. The stripers are not very active there, but as the water cools down it will be a major spot to fish. I have seen a few trollers and some fish are being caught around 10 a.m., but not many yet. The evenings are still the best time to fish the bayou right now.
The walleye are being caught on crankbaits trolled on long flats above Cranfield Marina. Crappie is a strong bite right now on 30 feet brushpiles, with small spoons, jigs and minnows being your best baits. Detailed maps of the new brushpiles are available at various locations around the lake.

(updated 11-4-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 11-4-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 3.1 feet to rest at 2.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 23.3 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water this week. All of the lakes in the White River system are above power pool.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during 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 pheasant tail size 14 below a cerise San Juan worm. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. Expect less pressure during the week with school underway. Weekends can be pretty busy. Brown trout have begun moving into the creek. The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms are still closed. 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), mop flies and egg patterns.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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 11-4-2020) 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. John’s favorite fly here 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.