Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 25, 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 25, 2020.

White River
(updated 11-18-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake arrived at the desired power pool level, and generation schedules have reflected that change, although the fluctuations have been puzzling: minimum flow amounts, then to five units and in between, all in one 12-hour period. Be on the lookout for quick rises and falls in the water level over the next few days, and ensure you have the baits on hand to cover the changes.
“Always keep some worms to dangle when the water is rising -- either red wigglers, nightcrawlers or the scented XFactor or Berkley artificial worms, doesn't matter. When the water steadies and flattens out some, you can experiment with flashy spoons (hammered red/gold, ⅙-ounce spoons work nicely) or, depending on water level, you might flicker an ⅛-ounce white or orange/brown jig. At the 9,000 to 12,000 cfs range, turn to the silver stick baits, white bellies (we favor Rapala's No. 5 countdowns).
“Some of the guides really like to fish falling water because of the challenge it presents. Try using a jerkbait in the "bleeding" series, with some slow sinking, wobbly action. The brown bite is slow but not nonexistent. Keep working a mid-size sculpin in the deeper holes and chances are pretty good you'll get a hit or two.
“We're still experiencing some nice daytime temperatures, perfect autumn weather to usher in the holidays. Coffee's on; stop in and grab a candy cane.”

(updated 11-25-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the rainbows are good on pink worms, shrimp and PowerBait. The lure anglers were doing slow, they say. River clarity is clear and level is low. There have been 4-6 generators running from the dam. The catch-and-release area below Bull Shoals is closed until February.

(updated 11-25-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that over the past week they had about a half of an inch of rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 1.1 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.9 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock remained steady at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.2 feet above the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation and had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water. The lakes in the White River system are all at or below flood pool and anglers should see wadable water soon.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until 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 moderate flows the White has fished well. The hot spot has been Wildcat 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 says, “By all accounts this is the strangest year of my life. Before this year I always thought that the first year I spent in Vietnam was my most memorable. Now I am beginning to think that 2020 may be the strangest.
“From the guiding perspective it started like any other. I had several guide trips for the beginning of the year and was beginning to schedule a number of trips for the spring. Then along came the coronavirus. All of my scheduled trips were canceled by my clients. Then our governor, Asa Hutchison, closed the state to outside visitors. Now it should be noted that at the same time he said that fishing and hunting was about the safest things that we could do. Fresh air and sunshine were good things. I went three months without a guide trip. My wife, Lori, and I enjoyed the opportunity to fish together whenever we wanted to. However we were concerned about our financial situation due to the loss of business.
“Once the statewide lockout ended, my guide business picked up. My clients found that they did not want to fly to Montana this year. The fishing is good here and close to home for a lot of people. Parents did not want to take their kids to Disney World because it was closed and decided it was reasonably safe to take them fishing on Dry Run Creek. I am currently over the level of business for the year that I had this time last year.
“Though business has returned, it has changed. I do not pick my clients up at their lodge and drive them to the river in my Suburban. I meet them at a neutral location and they follow me to the river. At lunch, everything is prepared the night before and individually wrapped or individually prepackaged when purchased. We sit outside and maintain social distance and sanitize our hands before and after lunch. The toughest thing for me is I no longer shake my clients’ hands when I meet them or say good-bye.
“While the guide business has done well, the social side of fly-fishing has suffered. The North Arkansas Fly Fishers (our local fly fishing club) and White River TU 698 (our local Trout Unlimited chapter) are not able to hold meetings. Holiday parties have been canceled. I always look forward to them and I will miss seeing my fly-fishing friends.
“Even bigger is the cancellation of this year’s Sowbug Roundup, our big fly-fishing show. I am on the committee that organizes the show and its cancellation in March was a major disappointment. We have scheduled our next Sowbug Roundup for next May.
“Not everyone has been as lucky as Lori and I have been. We have been virus-free and able to make a living. Our thoughts go out to the families of those that have died, been ill or lost their jobs.
“As we look to the future, we note several potential vaccines for the coronavirus. This fact is giving me hope that this pandemic is close to being put under control. I certainly hope so.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 659.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 917.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl).

(updated 11-25-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the Army Corps of Engineers has been slightly slowing the generation and the shad are getting balled up more. Baitfish are pushing toward the backs of creeks. “I have been doing better towards the back of creeks, and some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels,” Del said. The topwater bite has slowed drastically. Try a spinnerbait, chatterbait or square bill for powerfishing “shallow” if there are bushes with deeper water close by and shad, or 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. Work the pockets, channel swings and transitions with wind. Brushpiles are getting good if there is 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-counce jig in green pumpkin orange, green pumpkin blue, or green pumpkin orange shaky head,” he says.
Bull Shoals Lake clarity is dingy to clear, he said. Water level is normal and the surface water temperature is 62 degrees.
Visit Del’s YouTube page, Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock, for the latest information and Del’s tips on fishing Bull Shoals.

Norfork Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.75 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 11-25-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 11-25-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water. The lakes in the White River system are all at or below flood pool and anglers should see wadable water soon.
The Norfork tailwater is fishing poorly. 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 while school is in session; 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 remain 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 Norfork 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 11-25-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. With the cooler temperatures, the bite has slowed. 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.