Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 27, 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 28, 2021.

White River
(updated 1-28-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake elevation has raised one foot to 659.59 feet msl over the last few days due to an inch of rain received Tuesday. The water level is still very near the power pool target but generation has been as high as 19,000 cfs at times. If you're looking to fish low water, schedule your river time for early morning hours and wiggle a quarter-ounce spinner with a white tail and gold or bronze blade mid-depth to just below topwater. As the water rises (around 11 a.m. in the Cotter area), move to a red wiggler worm or nightcrawler for the next hour or two. Then, when the water reaches its peak, try angling a 4- to 5-inch jerkbait. Best bet right now is a white-bellied lure with a blue, black or midnight blue back. The bank anglers continue to have a great catch of rainbows with the shrimp/egg pattern combination, so if it's action you crave, stock up on shrimp. Again, white would be our first choice for the egg pattern (PowerBait or XFactor), but yellow, orange or the sunrise color are good choices, too. Winter weather prevails with morning lows averaging about 30 degrees and highs in the mid-40'. Staying warm makes fishing more fun, so dress for the weather and enjoy our Natural State.

(updated 1-28-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service says that during the past week, they have about an inch of rain in Cotter, very cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.1 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 fell 0.5 foot to rest at seasonal power pool and 16 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool and 9.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had variable generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msland 26.3 feet below the top of flood pool.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is through Sunday, Jan. 31, to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park 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. The section section will reopen to fishing on Monday, Feb. 1.
The White has fished well on moderate flows. 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, “We finally have reliable low water and I have waded on both the White and North Fork rivers in the last few weeks. I have even had wade guide trips. While I love wade fishing, I am always aware that it is inherently dangerous. I do my best to make it as safe as possible. Dead clients don’t tip!
“The most important consideration is information. I have written about reliable generation predictions for the last couple of weeks. While I have to rely to a certain extent on predictions, I always observe water conditions carefully, whenever I am on the river. I always choose a rock that is just out of the water to observe frequently to see if there is rising water (a $100 bill placed on top of the rock will sharpen your power of observation). If you see trash in the water, hear a different sound of the water or feel the water rising, check your rock. If the water is coming up, get out, preferably on the side of the river that your car is parked on. I try to leave the water before it is scheduled to rise. It is easier to walk out on low water.
“Equipment is the next consideration. Waders are important. The basic choices are neoprene and breathable. Neoprene waders are fine for the winter but the breathable waders are more comfortable when the weather is warmer. To make the breathable waders more comfortable in the winter I wear long underwear and heavy fleece pants under them.
“Waders are boot foot (the boots are an integral part of the waders or stocking foot; the boots and the waders are separate). I always recommend stocking foot waders, because the separate boots provide better foot support. They come with a variety of soles, Vibram or felt. I use felt because it provides better traction, particularly on bedrock. Because of didymo (an invasive alga that can be carried on felt soles); many states (including Missouri) have outlawed them. They are legal in Arkansas. I also put studs in my felt soles to improve traction. You can also do this to the Vibram soles. Do not wear studded boots in boats, as they provide no traction on fiberglass decks.
“I always carry a wading staff. This is a folding metal staff that provides extra stability when wading, particularly in heavy currents. When not in use, I fold it up and carry it in a holster. I have found the Folstaff brand to be the most effective. It is well-built and comes with a lifetime guarantee.
“I always wear polarized sunglasses to cut the surface glare on the water and allow me to see into the water and avoid subsurface obstructions. My polarized sunglasses are prescription bifocals.
“The last consideration is technique. I take my time and make sure that one foot is securely planted before I move the other one. I turn my body perpendicular to the current to present a smaller surface to the water and make it easier to wade.
“I prefer wading and make sure that I have the best information, equipment and technique to make it as safe as I can.”

(updated 1-28-2021) 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 659.60 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.14 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 554.76 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 1-28-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

(updated 1-28-2021) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report. Look for new reports in March.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 1-28-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msland 26.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork is fishing well on the wadable flows. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 1-28-2021) 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.