Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

February 17, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report February 18, 2021.

White River
(updated 2-18-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said this February will go down in weather history as a really cold one and we're still in the midst of the deep freeze. Bull Shoals Dam has been satisfying a huge demand for power, as have all the dams in the White River watershed. While we're seeing a lot of water in our trout fisheries, lots of homes are being kept warm with the power supplied by our hydroelectric system working at its best. Trout love the extra water, so it's a win-win. Before the snow arrived this week, but while the air was still pretty frigid, we saw some ardent trout anglers out catching their share of beauties. Most anglers were casting sculpins and river minnows aiming for a brown because this is one of the best times to target them. Mornings proved most successful because the frequent changes in water level during the day – sudden rises or abrupt drops – caused a little trout anxiety. Rainbows were reeled in by both drift fishers and bank fishers with the tried-and-true shrimp/egg pattern combo. Hint: Salt your shrimp for a firmer, longer lasting bait (and less frustration with the inevitable loss). Weather predictions are much more favorable for the next couple of weeks, so don't put off your fishing trip too long. Come celebrate spring in The Natural State.

(updated 2-18-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said earlier this week that before the second round of snow through the state, that they had about 8 inches of snow in Cotter, brutally cold temperatures (“It is 3 below zero as I write this,” he said) and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.1 feet to rest at 1 foot below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 37 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 foot to rest at 0.6 foot below seasonal power pool and 16.6 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 0.8 foot below seasonal power pool and 10.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 0.8 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had little if any wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the severe weather the region is experiencing, expect high levels of generation to supply extreme power demand.
On the moderate flows, the White has fished well. The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. 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 pink San Juan worm).
John also said, “Yesterday, when I told my wife, Lori, that I was going to write today’s column about getting my coronavirus vaccination, she did not understand what getting my vaccination had to do with fly-fishing. I think that getting a coronavirus vaccination is a fundamental part of my career as a guide. I am out there every day guiding people that I have never met.
“Though I scrupulously follow the proper protocol of washing my hands, maintaining social distance and wearing a mask, I am still in contact with people I do not know. If it is not safe to be around grandma at Christmas dinner, is it safe to be around a stranger? I think that by having myself inoculated, I and my clients would be safer. Therefore I went in search of the vaccine.
“I get my regular health care from the Veterans Administration. I sat around waiting for them to contact me for an appointment. When I had not heard from them, I went on their website and learned that the current cut-off for vaccination was 75 years old. Since I am 74 that means that I would have to wait for the next group.
“I checked around and found out that the cut-off for Arkansas was 70 years of age making me eligible for local vaccination. I heard about a vaccination clinic at Arkansas State University, but by the time I went online to register I was too late and missed the clinic.
“I started looking around for another opportunity. A friend is a medical instructor at North Arkansas University in Harrison. She told me about an upcoming vaccination clinic and helped me get registered.
I arrived at the clinic at 11 a.m. for my appointment. It took a couple of minutes to do the paperwork. There were lots of helpful volunteers that made everything go quickly. There were no bottlenecks. I then went into the actual clinic for my shot. The nurse giving me my shot had white hair. I was pleased. Through talking with her I learned that she had been a nurse for 50 years. She definitely knew what she was doing. I literally didn’t feel a thing.
“I went from there to another room where we had to sit for 15 minutes to ensure that we didn’t have an adverse reaction. For me this was the hardest part. I felt fine and wanted to go to lunch. I walked to my car about 11:15 a.m. with no problem.
“I left Harrison and drove back to my home in Cotter. I spent the rest of the day spreading mulch. The next day I also spread mulch. I never had any adverse reaction to the shot.
“I was very impressed with the great job they did at NorthArk. It was easy and painless. I recommend that everyone get their vaccination so we can all get back to normal.”

(updated 2-11-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported that there is high generation in the mornings, tapering off in the afternoon. Wade fishing is not available. The catch-and-release area below the dam is now open. White jigs are good on cloudier days. Drift-fishing is best with minnows or shrimp. Anglers are catching a few browns “here and there.” Shrimp, PowerBait and pink worms are working very well with rainbows. Fly-anglers are throwing streamers in a white pattern for best success. River clarity is clear and the river is high when eight generations are going at the dam. Overall trout bite is good.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 657.33 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).

(updated 2-18-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock had no report this week. Bull Shoals is clear with a surface temperature of 47 degrees. The lake is adjust below normal conservation level with heavy generation at the dam for power needs in the region.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 552.42 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 2-18-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report. Click on the resort website link in the preceding sentence for more information.

(updated 2-18-2021) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report. Look for new reports in March.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 2-18-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 0.8 foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had little if any wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the severe weather the region is experiencing, expect high levels of generation to supply extreme power demand.
The Norfork is fishing well. 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. “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 Norfork 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 2-18-2021) 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.