Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 10, 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 10, 2020.

White River

(updated 12-10-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially here in Cotter. As you come down to the river through Big Spring Park early on a frosty morning, you'll see a most amazing, delightful display of lights. Morning temperatures have been plenty cool, but that has given way to sunny, warm days that don't feel much like December.
“Sure is nice for a day of catching trout on the White River, though. Angler traffic on the river often dwindles through the winter, but these unseasonably mild days have seen an uptick of visitors. The successful fishers learned to include a variety of baits to accommodate the changes in river depth downstream of Bull Shoals Dam. In recent days we've seen substantial changes in the water level throughout the day, so bring a favorite silver spoon or some jigs for the lower level in the morning (orange and/or brown skirts), red wiggler worms for the rise during mid-morning, and some stick baits for the afternoon catch (rainbow patterns worked best this week). As always, scented egg patterns and shrimp will lure a good number of rainbows to your net.
“Come on in and share a story or two. Merry Christmas from the banks of the White.”

(updated 12-10-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that over the past week they had about a quarter of an inch of rain, cold temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped 0.3 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped 1.7 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.9 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at seasonal power pool and 9.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater saw a moderate amount of wadable water.
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 February 1, 2021 this section will open to fishing.
On the moderate 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 (size18), 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).
As more colder weather comes our way in the weeks ahead, John makes note of how he handles it: “When I woke up at 4:55 a.m. (just before the alarm went off), I noted that the temperature outside was 20 degrees. The wind was blowing 4 miles per hour, which made the wind chill equal fourteen degrees. I briefly considered turning over to sleep another hour but remembered that I was scheduled to meet two clients at 7:30 a.m. I got up, hit the shower and brewed a pot of strong coffee to get ready for the day. My wife, Lori, was not guiding on that day, so she stayed in that warm bed until she had to get up to feed and walk our two Labrador retrievers around 8.
“The trick to surviving weather like this is to dress properly. I generally have an advantage over my clients because I have better clothing for extreme weather than they do. I spare no expense when buying outdoor clothing because I often spend the day outside and need to finish the day. Here on the White and North Fork rivers, the fish are not affected by external temperature because our rivers are tailwaters and the water temperature does not vary appreciably in summer or winter. We fish 12 months a year here.
“I started off with a medium-weight long underwear top and bottom. They were Patagonia Capeline, which is warm, breathes well and wicks moisture away from your body. Dry is warmer than damp. The top was a zip turtleneck, so that I could unzip it, if I got too warm.
“I wore a pair of fleece-lined pants to keep my legs warm. If it had been windier I would have worn a pair of rain pants over them to keep the wind off of me. Wind chill is a killer. On the top, I wore a thick, densely knitted wool sweater. Wool will keep you warm when it is wet. Over that I wore a jacket with a thin windproof nylon shell and was insulated with PrimaLoft (a synthetic down alternative that will keep you warm when wet). It has a hood to keep my head warm in extreme conditions.
“On my feet, I wore thick wool wader socks. Once again, wool will keep you warm when wet. Over that I wear muck boots. These have a molded rubber bottom and neoprene tops. They are warm and waterproof. That way I can easily wade in the water, if needed, when launching the boat.
“On my hands, I wore wool fingerless gloves. The bare fingers allow me to tie knots. Over them I put on some heavy wool shelled gloves that I wear when I don’t have to tie knots. I generally remove them when the temperature climbs above freezing.
“A waterproof, billed, fleece lined, PrimaLoft insulated cap with ear flaps completes my clothing. I put disposable hand warmers in my jacket pockets.
‘As it warmed up I pulled up the flaps on my hat, removed the top pair of gloves and unzipped my jacket and sweater to get a little ventilation and avoid overheating. I finished the day comfortably.
“If you have the proper clothing, you can survive cold weather.”

(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.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.81 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).

(updated 12-10-2020) 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 553.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

No reports.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 12-10-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater saw a moderate amount of wadable water.
The Norfork is fishing well especially on the lower flows. 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 size 14 pheasant tail 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 back in session; expect less pressure during the week. 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 12-10-2020) 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.