Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 14, 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 14, 2021.

White River
(updated 1-14-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the three reservoirs in our White River watershed are all very near or just below their power pool objectives, and all three dams are generating power at moderate levels. Bull Shoals tailwater has averaged three units (9,000 cfs) daily for the past week. If there is a pattern to the releases, expect a fairly significant rise in the morning (Cotter experiences that rise at about 10:30-11 a.m.), then a drop later in the day (4 p.m. or later in Cotter). This is a good time to experiment with a jointed Rapala, No. 5 or silver/black, played at mid-depth. Let the bait work for you – that's what's nice about the "broke-back" feature. White and silver are the go-to colors for stick baits and skirted jigs or spinners right now. The cold winter weather has lots of folks watching for a shad kill. A good crop of shad requires several cold nights and chilly days to cool off the lake temperatures to kill off the shad to bring them across the dam to the river. Early to mid-February is the most frequent season for a kill.
(updated 1-14-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service says that during the past week they had a little over a quarter inch of rain, very cold temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.2 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 1 foot to rest at 1.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 14.6 feet above the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool and 9.5 feet below the top of flood pool.The White had variable generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake remains steady 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 wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system now below or near the power pool. Expect 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 area is 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 an egg pattern with a size 18 ruby midge).
John adds, “The day after New Years I had my first guide trip of the year. It was a full-day trip in the boat. Before the trip we took a bit of time to plan it based on the generation prediction. We were eager to take advantage of the best water available. The prediction on the White was for a flow of about 3,200 cfs with an increased short burst (three hours) of 9,000 cfs halfway through the day.
“We arrived at the access about 7:30 a.m. It was snowing! It made everything look even better. I had dressed warm with muck boots, long underwear, wool socks, fleece lined jeans, wool sweater, down jacket, wool fingerless gloves and a fleece hat. I had checked the weather forecast before I left the house and thought it would warm up above freezing turning the snow into rain. Therefore I put on my rain suit.
“I took note of the water level. I had checked the flow on my iPhone before I left the house and I was disappointed but not surprised. The water was flowing at about three times the predicted levels. I had planned my day based on the prediction. Now I had to scramble to explain the difference to my clients and rig their rods for higher water.
“I am originally from Tennessee, where I fished tailwaters. These are streams below dams where the water flow is controlled by a government agency. There the flows are controlled by the Tennessee Valley Authority. There they publish a schedule that is very reliable. The White and Norfork are tailwaters.
“Here our tailwaters are controlled by two government agencies, the United States Army Corps of Engineers and the Southwestern Power Administration (SWPA). The Corps controls the flows when the lakes are in flood pool and SWPA controls the flows when the lakes are in power pool. The SWPA publishes the predicted flows on the internet. The Corps of Engineers publishes real data on flows.
“Since this particular weekend included a national holiday the SWPA issued a generation prediction for four days Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. When I later compared the actual generation to the prediction, I noted a significant difference between what was predicted and what transpired. In all cases the actual generation was much larger.
“I find that unreliable information complicates my life. When I use it to decide where to fish the next day, I do not know if I will find the conditions that it reports will happen. This is further complicated by concerns for my client’s safety and mine. The White and Norfork are dangerous waters due to the rapid and unexpected rise in water level. Unreliable generation reports do not help anything.
“On this day, we were all right. We were fishing from a boat so we were able to deal with the higher flows. I have had plenty of experience fishing high water the last two years. We caught plenty of trout and survived the cold rainy conditions without a problem.”

(updated 1-14-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported that anglers are catching a lot of rainbows. Best success is coming drift-fishing with little frozen shrimp as bait. The river level is high with eight generators running at the dam. Overall fishing there is good, they report.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.83 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 1-14-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says there are baitfish in the creeks and main lake pockets. Spending your idle time on the graph looking for loons and video gaming will pay off. Fish 50-70 feet in guts. Most of the shad are suspended over the old creek channels. Go with a Rapala Ice Jig or Jewel Spoon if it’s windy, or Damiki Drop-shot and McMinnow if it’s flat. Or, if shad are up high in the water column, they are on the move. Del recommends powerfishing “shallow” if there’s wind, cloud, bushes, snags with deeper water close and shad. Rock Crawler, Wiggle Wart and square bill are all working with some wind on 45-degree banks with nasty rock transition. Moss is becoming prevalent and a pain for anglers. As the sun comes up, or after a front, change tactics and slow down. Go with jigs and shaky head on channel swings. Follow the shad regardless of the depth and you’ll find the fish. Fish the conditions. Check out Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more tips on fishing Bull Shoals and the latest activity there. Current clarity as of Tuesday was clear with a surface temperature of 49 degrees. The lake is at normal conservation pool.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.50 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 1-14-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

(updated 1-14-2021) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 1-14-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake remains steady 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 wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system now below or near the power pool. Expect 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 from 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 (size 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. “My wife, Lori, did well recently with an olive woolly bugger. The fishing is better in the morning.”
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.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-14-2021) 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.