Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 11, 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 11, 2020.

White River

(updated 11-11-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said releases from Bull Shoals Dam into the White River tailwaters remained steady and lower, with an average output of about 3,000 to 6,000 cfs (one to two power units). “We've seen some days, usually morning hours, when the water level allows for some wade fishing. At these levels, an angler can put an anchor down and fish a favorite deep spot, or drift downriver keeping your line tight and near the bottom without having to use too much weight.
“The brown bite has been iffy because the annual spawn is on, but we're still seeing some action with sculpin. Be careful not to disturb the spawning beds (the redds) if you motor through spawning areas around Rim Shoals and either side of the catch-and-release area. The rainbows have been feisty and paying most attention to orange baits. XFactor steelhead orange eggs are a favorite for two weeks running paired with a bead of shrimp or alone.
“This November has been spectacular for fall colors and warm, shirt-sleeve days, and, although we expect a cool front to move in later this week, we've been promised more sunshine and temperate days to continue for a while. Come visit Cotter; catch your share of rainbows and enjoy the beauty of our Natural State.”

(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 11-11-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that over the past week they had no rain, warmer temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.7 foot to rest at 3.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 32.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.5 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.2 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 1.5 feet above seasonal power pool and 8.1feet below the top of flood pool. The White had light generation. Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 2.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water.

The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is now closed, effective Nov. 1, unti Jan. 31, 2021, 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.

On the lower flows, 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 size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge).

John also said, “My wife, Lori, and I guided a family with three children last week. This is the third time that we have guided them and we are beginning to understand their differences. This concept is not foreign to me. I was one of four children and know that we were all different. My brother, Dan, and I were avid fly-fishers. My sister Carol loved to fish but was not as interested as Dan and I were. On the other hand, my sister Ernestine was not an angler. She was always supportive of the anglers in the family. She even served on the Board of Directors of the Mid South Fly Fishers, the fishing club that Dan and I were active in.

“The family that Lori and I guided consisted of Hannah, a 14-year-old girl; Thomas, a 10-year-old boy; and Alexander, an 8-year-old boy. Hannah was the best angler. Over the past few trips she has bonded with Lori and has become an accomplished angler. She is an intense girl in anything she does and is a straight-A student. On this trip, she managed to land a 25-inch rainbow and a 26-inch brown. Her dad was stoked. He had wanted his children to land a big brown and it happened. He took several photos before we revived and gently released the brown.

“Meanwhile I was guiding the two boys. I took them to another spot. I started with the youngest, Alexander. He is about as intense as Hannah and truly loves to fish. According to his dad, he has been fishing since he was 2. I have guided him several times and he keeps improving. This time he caught a 22-inch brown and did not want to stop for a photo because it would take time from catching fish. He ended up catching the most trout; 26, including two browns at 22 and 23 inches. He had a couple of even larger trout on but unfortunately lost them. To land the really big ones you need a bit of luck.

“The older brother, Thomas, was not as into fishing as his siblings. I worked with him and he caught three nice trout, including a stout 20-inch brown. After that, he lost interest. In an attempt to keep him involved, I made him the “net man” and had him net all of Alexander’s trout. That kept him involved for a while but he eventually lost interest in that, too. I missed seeing him for a while and went looking for him. I found him asleep on a picnic table.
“As I see it, children are all different. They will not all be master anglers. But if you watch their cues and go with the flow, they will enjoy themselves and want to return.”


Bull Shoals Lake

As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 661.81 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.86 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 555.66 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 11-11-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the fall fishing season on Norfork Lake has started. “This means to me that all species start feeding heavily for the cold winter months. But the best part is that most species school up to feed. When you get into a feeding school of fish, you’ll have a blast. For me the bass bite has been the best over the last week. You can find this species all over the lake and in several different types of areas. The area that has been best for me is in 30-40 feet of water on the edges of large flats. Typically, this is close to a ledge or at an area that gets deeper very quickly. Use your GPS to find contour lines that are very close together on the outer edge of the flat which will show the contour lines farther apart. The bait likes this type of area and the bass will be feeding heavily. I like to vertical jig with a spoon, from half-ounce to 1-ounce depending on the wind conditions. Drop-shot rigs with a small worm should work great. A second method that is still working is to cast out a crankbait that dives 12-15 feet deep. The fish might be on bluffs or on the shallow side of the lake. White with a chartreuse back has been the best colors for both crankbaits and spoons. The old standby, worm or jig fishing, is also catching some nice fish.

“Over the last week white bass have started to show up in large schools more consistently. You may find this species feeding on the bottom, suspended, or just cruising through the area. I am finding whites in a variety of depths, but recently it seems that 30-40 feet is the magic number. The easiest time to catch them is when they are feeding on the bottom. I vertical-jig with a spoon and the best thing is that when you are jigging your spoon you may catch any species in the lake especially if there is lots of bait around.

“Crappie fishing has been pretty good. One thing that I have noticed is that the schools of crappie are roaming around and not necessarily holding tight to the brush. So, don’t hesitate looking out from the brush especially if the bite is tough. Jigging with a small spoon or a small grub is working great. You can also use live bait. When I have marked crappie on my graph, they have been suspended down 12 feet to close to the bottom. You either need to see them on your graph or keep trying different depths until you find the one where the fish are feeding.

“Striped bass and hybrid bass fishing is picking up, but still isn’t consistent. They can be found back in some of the major creeks such as Bennett’s Bayou and also up river from the Calamity area up to the Udall area. They are starting to school, and if you find them feeding, you will catch fish. I am starting to find both stripers and hybrids on the flats where I have been fishing, but it is the beginning of this pattern. Very soon large schools will show up on the flats early in the morning and then again in the evenings, if prior experience holds true. I have caught this species on swimbaits, as well as spoons. I have found them in the same depths as the other species, but don’t hesitate checking in deeper water as they will continue to move around to follow the baitfish.

“I have not been very diligent in writing a fishing report lately, but if you want some great fishing tips and to see what is currently biting, like Hummingbird Hideaway Resort on Facebook and you will get frequent fishing updates on Norfork Lake.

The lake level is falling slowly with periodic power generation and currently sits at 555.8 feet msl. The lake surface water temperature has been fairly stable and was 64 degrees Tuesday morning. This temp should start to fall again with the cool front entering our area as I am writing this report. The lake is clear, but still somewhat stained in our area. The farther south you go the clearer the water gets.

“Happy fish and see you on the lake.”


(updated 11-11-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report

Norfork Tailwater(updated 11-11-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 2.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 24.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water.

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. There is less pressure with school underway; expect less pressure during the week, but 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 11-11-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. 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.