Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 7, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report January 7, 2021.

White River
(updated 1-7-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Just because it's cold doesn't mean the fish are hiding out, seeking shelter. Fact is, the end of the brown trout spawn is near and we're seeing movement from the upriver spawning beds to their Cotter home grounds. We've experienced some mild precipitation and cold mornings, but the daytime temperatures usually warm up a little and we're on the upside of short, winter days meaning more sunlight every day.
“Bull Shoals Lake has reached power pool (659 msl) elevation again, so expect less generation, more low and steady flows. Trout fishing tip of the day: Keep a taut line, leave your rod alone as much as possible and refrain from reeling except to keep the line tight – until you get a bite. Listen to, and take advice from, your guide, even if it differs from the way you may have caught fish in the past; they want you to be successful and to catch fish!
“Happy New Year! Enjoy the great outdoors in The Natural State of Arkansas in 2021.”

(updated 1-7-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service says that during the past week, they had rain, sleet and snow,over a three day period that combined for a total of 1.75 inches in Cotter), along with cold temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose a half-foot to rest at 0.3 foot above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.7 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1.6 feet to rest at 0.4 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.6 feet above the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.7 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above seasonal power pool and 9.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had variable generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.5 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water.
All of the lakes in the White River system are now below or near power pool, and anglers should have wadable water in the near future.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through Jan. 31 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. The section will reopen to fishing on Feb. 1.
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 (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 an egg pattern with a size 18 ruby midge).
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive algae. 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.
John also says, “For several days around Christmas, my wife, Lori, and I were in Memphis visiting family. Lori’s 90-year-old mother had a stroke a few months ago. While they have caregivers around the clock, Lori stayed there before and after Christmas to help her parents however she could. I felt that I was in the way. My brother-in-law, Larry, was headed up here to fish and offered me a ride. I left my suburban so Lori could bring the dogs back with her. We were both concerned with the coronavirus and wore our masks during the entire drive here. This was the first time in almost a year that I had been in an automobile with anyone other than Lori.
“Larry and I decided to fish the next day. We were both interested in wade fishing the White River. Neither of us had fished the Narrows in a long time, so we decided to fish there. We left Cotter at 7 a.m. Larry stayed in our guest house. We donned our waders and rigged our rods before leaving. We took separate cars and were on the river around sunrise. I walked far upstream, while Larry remained closer to the access.
“I started fishing with a partridge and orange soft hackle, a fly that I have done well with, when fishing the Narrows. I fished it for about 45 minutes and never got a bump. I thought about the last time Lori and I had fished together, about a week before. We had fished the Norfork and Lori had fished an olive Woolly Bugger, while I had fished a two-fly nymph rig, a root beer midge below a pheasant tail. She caught 25, while I caught nine.
“I changed over to an olive Woolly Bugger and fished on. After several minutes, I had not caught anything and was ready to change flies, when I landed a nice rainbow. I was working my way downstream and began to catch trout on a regular basis. After a slow start, I was beginning to have a good day. By the time I had worked down to Larry’s location, I had landed 15 nice rainbows.
“Larry had not done as well. He had stayed in the same basic spot and had started with an olive Woolly Bugger, a fly he fishes often. He had caught one on it but the going was slow. He decided to switch over to a partridge and orange soft hackle, a fly that had been very productive for him the last time he fished here. He caught a few but it never really started producing. We were both ready to end the day and reeled in our lines. We finished the day by having a hearty breakfast at the White Sands Restaurant in Cotter, my neighborhood restaurant.
“Our individual success on that day had depended on our fly selection. We both fished the same flies but I had stuck with the one that produced for me. Change flies when the one you are fishing does not work. It can make a difference.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 659.11 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.78 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).

(updated 1-7-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says there are baitfish in the creeks and main lake pockets. Some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels. Ice jig Rapala or a Jewel Spoon is good if it’s windy. Use Damiki drop-shot McMinnow if it’s flat. If the shad are up high in the water column, they are on the move. Use Rock Crawler, Wiggle Wart or square bill with some wind on 45-degree banks with nasty rock transition. As the sun comes up or post fronts, change tactics and slow down. Jigs and a shaky head on channel swings. Follow the shad regardless of the depth. The lake clarity is clear and the surface temperature is 50 degrees. The lake level is high at 659 feet full pool. Check out Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more tips on fishing Bull Shoals and the latest activity there.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.76 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

No reports.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 1-7-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.5 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water.
All of the lakes in the White River system are now below or near power pool, and anglers should have wadable water in the near future.
The Norfork is fishing well on the wadable flows. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the 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 with a root beer midge dropper. John says his wife, Lori, did well recently with an olive Woolly Bugger. The fishing is better in the morning.
Also, Dry Run Creek is fishing well. There is less pressure with the colder weather. 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 1-7-2021) 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