Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 21, 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 21, 2021.

White River
(updated 1-21-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is currently at the stated power pool goal of 659 feet msl, and it appears that generation flows will begin to slow. Predicted levels for Thursday are at minimum flow, which is less than less than 1,000 cfs, the first really low water level for several weeks. That means wading opportunities will abound, great anchor fishing is in store, and the use of floating stick baits instead of diving or sinking baits. Use a smaller hook than you might be used to: a No. 8 or 10, and stick to bronze hooks; leave the gold hooks on the shelf. We've had success with orange and peach egg patterns placed just above the knot at the eye of the hook. If you don't get a rapid response, add a sliver of shrimp to the barb. The supply chain for all types of fishing gear dried up during the last six months, but we're finally able to get our hands on some baits and are finding some good looking Mepps spinners.
Try the new Aglia streamer with a long white skirt with flash and a gold or bronze blade. Perfect time of year for white baits, as they imitate the White River minnows that are a favorite trout meal and lure the bigger trout as they're coming off the spawning beds. Spring is still a ways away, so make sure you bundle up for early morning trips to the river; the temperature can be 5 to 10 degrees colder on the river than the thermometer reads. Stay warm and keep anglin'.

(updated 1-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service says that during the past week, they had no measurable precipitation, very cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.3feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had variable generation with little 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 flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below or near power pool. Expect to receive wadable water in the near future.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is 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.
On the moderate flows for a few hours a day, 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 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.

(updated 1-21-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported that anglers are catching a lot of rainbows now. Those drift-fishing were catching them on little frozen shrimp, Power Eggs and Power Worms. The water is starting to come down a little bit every so often. Brown trout are starting to pick up after the spawn, but nothing trophy-size has been hooked. Browns are biting mainly on stick bait. The clarity is clear, the river level is high and eight generators are turning at the dam. Overall fishing outlook: good.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).
(updated 1-21-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the baitfish are on the move again in the creeks and main lake pockets. Spend your idle time on the graph looking for loons and video gaming, and that will pay off. Fish 50-80 feet in the guts. Most of the shad are suspended over the old creek channels. A Rapala Ice Rig or a Jewell Spoon is useful if it’s windy. Use a Damiki drop-shot or McMinnow if it’s flat. Go 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 is a pain. As the sun comes up, or after a front, change tactics and slow down. Use jigs and shaky heads on channel swings. Follow the shad regardless of the depth and you’ll find the fish. Fish the conditions. Bull Shoals is clear with a surface temperature of 47 degrees. The lake is at normal conservation pool.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 1-21-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

(updated 1-21-2021) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report. Look for new reports in March.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 1-21-2021) 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 flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below or near power pool. Expect to receive 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 from flooding over the past two years. 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, “My wife, Lori, did well 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.
John also said, “Last week I wanted to go fishing. The erratic pattern on the White, (moderate flows for a few hours followed by a few hours of heavy water then more moderate flows that were followed by heavy water again), did not appeal to me at all. I have not had much success on these erratic flows. About the time the trout are acclimated to the water, it changes. This makes for a slow bite.
“What I wanted to do was wade fish the Norfork. I studied the prediction for several days and saw my opportunity last Sunday. The water was to be off from midnight until 4 p.m.. The weather was cold. It was 27 when I got up but was scheduled to warm up to 40 degrees. It was sunny with light and variable winds I figured that the afternoon would be warm enough for me to be reasonably comfortable.
“I left the house about 11:30 a.m. and arrived at the Ackerman Access about noon. It was 32 degrees. I got out of my Suburban and walked over to the river. I looked upstream. I saw low water and a few anglers. The conditions looked perfect. I was stoked.
“I walked back to my truck and began getting ready. I was dressed warmly with various layers of wool, fleece and down. I pulled my waders out of my wader bag and pulled them on followed quickly by my wading boots. I added my fishing vest and net. I reached for my favorite cold weather hat and realized it was at home. Luckily I had a backup in my wader bag. I put on my wool fingerless gloves and opened a package of disposable hand warmers that I put in my wader pockets. I grabbed my fly rod. It was still rigged for fishing a partridge and orange soft from my last trip to the Norfork a few weeks prior. I was ready to fish.
“Once again, I looked upstream. The view was very different from my previous one. I saw all of the anglers scurrying back to the access. I quickly noted that the water was rising fast. I was, of course, disappointed. I looked at my watch. It was 12:15 p.m. The Corps of Engineers were supposed to start generation at 4 p.m. The Southwestern Power Administration’s prediction called for it to begin then. Once again, the prediction was grossly inaccurate.
“Luckily, no one was caught on the wrong side and everyone was able to safely get out. A fellow angler told me that had not happened on the previous Thursday, when a nice couple was on the wrong side of the river. They were both swept from their feet and went swimming. As luck would have it, another angler in the parking lot was able to get the lady out. Her companion was able to make it to the bank on his own. This could have been catastrophic.
“Unreliable information on rising water is a danger to all anglers, particularly waders. Do not rely on the prediction. Keep a sharp lookout for rising water and leave the stream as soon as you detect it.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-21-2021) 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.