Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 3, 2020

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report December 3, 2020.

White River
(updated 12-3-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Trout fishing the White River waters around Cotter in the Arkansas Ozarks in December can be chilly, but cold weather fishing has lots of advantages, not the least of which is feeling like you've got the river to yourself. You might not see another angler for hours, but you'll always see some rainbows and very likely a brown or two.
“You'll be able to bring some in for yourself if you add some garlic scented egg patterns to your bait mix. Can't find it? Just include some minced garlic in a jar or package of artificial bait (doesn't even have to be egg patterns) and let it steep for a day or so. Remember, though, it is considered scented bait, not for use in a catch-and-release area.”
While Bull Shoals Lake has achieved the desired elevation for the season (659 feet msl), “we continue to see fairly sizable releases, so don't leave those heavier weights at home. We've had some success this week with orange and brown flashy baits: maribou jigs, quarter-ounce with the higher water, gold/orange Cleos, and Blue Foxes with an orange/red bell.
“When planning your winter fishing trip and checking the weather, study the nighttime lows as well as the daytime highs. Figure that your day will start at the lowest temperature from the night before, and it may even be several degrees colder on the water. Layer up and you'll enjoy your trip a whole lot more. We're looking forward to a healthy, safe Christmas season!”

(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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.97 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 12-3-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the shad are getting balled up more, so he suspects the deep bite is about to get better once generation slows. There are baitfish in the creeks and shallows. Spend your idle time on the graph looking for loons and video-gaming will pay off. “I have been doing better towards backs of creeks for numbers; at 35-65 feet, some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels. Use an ice jig or spoon if it’s windy, Damiki drop-shot if it’s flat. If the shad are up high in the water column, the deep bite is hot. Powerfishing shallow if there’s wind, cloud, bushes/snags with deeper water close and shad. Rock Crawlers, Wiggle Wart and square bill are all working with some wind off 45-degree banks with nasty rock transition. As the sun comes up, or post frontal, change tactics and slow down. Use jigs and shaky head on channel swings. Brushpiles are getting good if there are shad present. Follow the shad regardless of the depth and you’ll find the fish. I’m fishing the conditions.”
The lake is clear and the surface temperature is 55 degrees. Water level has recently gone up above normal conservation pool. 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 Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.38 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 12-3-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.
(updated 12-3-2020) 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 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.