Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 17, 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 17, 2020.

White River
(updated 12-10-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “A cold wind ushered in some winter-like temperatures this week but we're seeing a steady rise in the daily thermometer number. This December continues to be very mild with Christmas just a week or so away. Kids will be looking for Christmas vacation adventures and there is none better than catching trout on the White. Any pink flavor scented egg bait (Berkley PowerBait or XFactor) and shrimp are reliable baits to provide a lot of action and help them catch some rainbows. Mild daytime temperatures for the next week mean a good time to pick up your rod and reel and get outside. Water releases from Bull Shoals Dam have fluctuated to serve increased power demands during the colder weather but like we always say, the really good news is that trout love cold water and they love lots of water. When you see a rise in the water, reach for the wiggly worms. However, wading opportunities abound during early morning and late afternoons, when we have seen very low water, minimum flow amounts. The browns have given some attention to sculpins and minnows, even in the middle of their annual spawn. Brought a cutthroat to the boat last week with plain old shrimp. Come on over and tie on your favorite baits; catch some trout and revel in the changing seasons we are so blessed to enjoy.

(updated 12-17-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service reminds anglers 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).
John adds, “It seems like we have had high water on our local rivers forever, and opportunities to wade have been few and far between. I have eagerly checked the Southwestern Power Administration website every afternoon hoping for a prediction calling for some wadable water. Finally last Friday I read that we would have a full day of wadable water on the Norfork tailwater. About the same time I heard the phone ring. It was my wife Lori’s sister, Terri. She said that she and her husband, Larry, were headed our way to visit and wade fish. Like Lori and I, they are serious anglers that have been awaiting wadable water.
“I knew that there was a lot of pent-up demand to wade the Norfork. Larry, Terri and I decided to drive over very early and be on the river at our respective favorite spots and to begin fishing at sunup. Lori was going to stay at home until she fed and walked our Labrador retrievers, Tilley and Ghillie. She would join us a bit later.
“I got up at 4:45 a.m., hit the shower and got dressed. I made a pot of coffee and ate a Clif bar. I put my waders on in my man cave (garage) so I would be ready to go on stream as soon as I reached the river. I had also rigged my fly rod the previous afternoon, as it would be dark when I was to begin fishing.
I left the house a little after 6. The thermometer in my Suburban said it was 29 degrees. I had dressed warmly and had a large Yeti tumbler full of coffee that I sipped on as I drove through the dark. Larry and Terri followed in their car. When we arrived, we were surprised to see that there were four cars there before us. I should have known. Since we already had our waders on and our rods were rigged, we were the first anglers on the river. We walked far upstream into the catch-and-release section.
“I made my first cast as the sun was peeking over the horizon. I had not been on the Norfork on low water in a long time. I was amazed at how much it had changed. My favorite spot was much different. What had been a fast narrow run was now a broad shoal. While I did not catch any big trout as I usually do in this spot, I landed several nice trout. After fishing there, I walked downstream to where Larry and Terri were doing well. I joined them and began catching trout. About that time, I got a call from Lori. She wondered how we were doing. I told her we were whacking trout, and she said she would join us as quick as she could get there.
“Lori arrived an hour later and fished aggressively. We all did well and fished till early afternoon. I caught over 20 while Lori caught about a dozen, including a 14-inch Bonneville cutthroat. Larry and Terri did very well. The hot rig was a size 16 pheasant tail with a root beer midge dropper.
“It was incredible to be back on the water. We went home and discussed the day around a campfire that night. Life is good!”
(updated 12-17-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says the fishing is slow. Conditions Tuesday were very cold and windy, keeping the anglers away. When the weather was better, rainbows were good, they reported.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.71 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.30 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).

(updated 12-17-2020) 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 water level has risen above the 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 553.39 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

No reports.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 12-17-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said 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 Nutt. 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), and 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 12-17-2020) 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.