Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 18, 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 18, 2020.

White River

(updated 11-18-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River is currently a little high with three generators (9,900 cfs) flowing round-the-clock over the past few days. “We're nearing power pool (659 msl elevation), so expect a decrease in releases soon. This has been an unseasonably warm November. We're experiencing beautiful mild days, cool nights and amazing creel fills of colorful rainbow trout. You'll find success with a variety of spoons and Blue Fox spinners. Any rainbow-colored spoons or Rooster Tails in your tackle box should be your first choice; throw those first. When bait fishing, the guides are using red wiggler worms and backing them up with shrimp and peach, orange or pink egg patterns. The X-Factor steelhead orange and shrimp colored baits (egg clusters and regular-sized egg patterns) as well as XFactor redworms are attracting the rainbows, too.
“The browns are not immune to bait now even during the annual spawn; sculpins work one day, minnows the other.
“More visitors are expected on the river with the upcoming holidays, so expect an increase in river traffic, although we haven't really seen much slow down this season to date. Be especially careful and thoughtful of other anglers: boaters, shore fishers and waders. The AGFC manages our trout waters so well, there's plenty of trout and lots of river for every type and size of angler who visits. Come in and share your fishing stories.”

(updated 11-18-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the rainbows because caught this week “are huge!” The river is clear and the water level is normal with four generators running from the dam. Overall, the trout bite was fair.
The catch-and-release area below Bull Shoals is closed until February.

(updated 11-18-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that over the past week they had about a quarter of an inch of rain, cool temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 2 feet to rest at 1.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 34.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock remained steady at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.2 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.7 feet to rest at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.8feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had moderate generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 1.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now at or near power pool. We should receive wadable water in the near future.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through 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, “I was returning home from having breakfast at the White Sands Restaurant, our local dining spot here in Cotter, when I noticed Henry Seay’s little green pickup parked outside the Natural State Fly Shop. I decided to stop in and say hello. He is an old friend that I have known for years and I always enjoy visiting with him. While we were talking, he said that he had put in his notice and was going to retire. Henry is 84. I asked him what he was going to do. He said that he didn’t know, maybe go fishing.
“We worked together when I was the manager of Blue Ribbon Fly Shop. He was the key employee. Over the years he has worked at several fly shops and is very knowledgeable of local conditions. He would sit at the fly-tying desk and tie all day except when customers were about. By the way, he is a master fly-tyer. He would often give a customer one of his hand-tied flies along with detailed information on how to fish it. They were well received.
“Henry does not own a boat, so he is a wade fisherman. High water does not seem to bother him. He always finds some place to fish. Back in the Blue Ribbon days, I wrote a weekly fishing report and Henry wrote a wade-fishing report that told our customers where they could wade no matter what the conditions were. It was quite popular.
“Henry is also a guide. He specializes in teaching new fly-fishers or guiding kids on Dry Run Creek. Over the years he has shared information on his secret hot spots on Dry Run and I always listen intently because he knows the creek well. My wife, Lori, and I use him when we need additional guides on Dry Run Creek for large groups that we cannot handle alone. He always produces good trout.
“He has done a lot of volunteer work with the local Trout Unlimited chapter. He has held various positions and was very active with the youth camps. He was their first recipient of the volunteer of the year award. That award is now known as the Henry Seay award.
“His favorite place to fish is on the lower North Fork. I have fished there with him and he knows the trout by name. He fishes bamboo rods and favors an old weathered cowboy hat. He looks like a figure from a bygone era. In truth, he is. They don’t make fly-fishers like him anymore, and it’s a shame. He doesn’t have a big riverboat and an even bigger jet motor. What he has is a lifetime of knowledge and a desire to catch trout. I look forward to some lower wadable water and the opportunity to fish the Norfork tailwater with Henry again.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 659.80 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.82 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 554.70 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.”

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 11-18-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 1.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now at or near power pool. We should receive wadable water in the near future.
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, so expect less pressure during the week. Weekends can be pretty busy, however. 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. 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 11-18-2020) 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.