Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 3, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report March 4, 2021.

White River

(updated 3-4-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “What a great week to be on the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks! Water levels have fluctuated greatly and frequently, challenging anglers' fishing know-how and patience. Early in the week, we met with very, very low water and found the perfect occasion to wade into the stream for the first time in a long while. Anglers have had more success with sculpins than earlier this month and saw several healthy browns on the hook. White jigs bounced as close to the bottom as possible have also produced a very nice catch. Experiment with silver or silver-and-blue-colored baits, either stick baits or spoons under overcast skies, mid-depth or lower, and you'll undoubtedly attract some attention.
“In the deep water, we hooked great rainbows with 4½-inch Rogues, still working the orange-bellied, blue-backed Rogue, but also had luck with the smoke-colored, suspending stick baits with silver bellies. Red wriggler worms also work as the fluctuations bring in the rise.
“Be ready for fickle weather and water conditions and come have fun in the best trout river in the country.”

(updated 3-4-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported Wednesday that fishing is fair. Anglers aren’t catching a lot of brown trout, but they are reeling in rainbows. Clarity of the river is clear. The Corps of Engineers is running six generators.

(updated 3-4-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said earlier this week that during the past week they had about one and a quarter inches of rain, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.6 feet to rest at seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.8 foot to rest at 1.2 feet below seasonal power pool and 17.2 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.5 foot to rest at 0.7 foot below seasonal power pool and 10.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had abundant wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.1 feet to rest at 0.3 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below or near power pool. With the severe weather past us, expect lower levels of generation.
On the lower flows, the White has waded 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 pink San Juan worm).
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. 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 mentions fishing after a huge snowfall: “Last Monday, after a couple of weeks of bad weather (we had cold rain followed by heavy snow) we had a break in the weather, where I actually observed what I can only guess was the sun. My wife, Lori, had braved the elements for the previous cold and snowy days to walk our two Labrador retrievers in tough conditions. I was also out there shoveling snow and chipping the ice from our back steps.
“Other than that, we were hunkered down in our house in Cotter hoping that the pipes did not freeze. Luckily they didn’t. Once the weather began to clear, I could only think of one thing: going fishing. Lori felt the same. We generally try to fish together once a week. It had been a while and we were ready to hit the river.
“I checked the conditions and noted that the White River was on the bottom and promised to be so for the rest of the day. The weather was predicted to be quite mild with highs in the mid-50s and abundant sunshine. The only potential problem was the possibility of winds from the west at 10-15 mph.
“Following our usual procedure, Lori walked the dogs while I loaded up the boat and drove to the river. I had just finished rigging our two rods just when she showed up at the ramp. I had rigged them differently. On the one I fished I had a pheasant tail nymph below a fluorescent pink worm. The other rod had a ruby midge below an egg. This gives us four flies to test to see which one will produce trout.
“I launched the boat and motored upstream. It felt good to both of us to be back on stream. The going was a bit slow, but on the third drift I picked up a fat and sassy 21-inch rainbow. The trout was hooked on the pheasant tail. Now when I study this, I consider one fish to be a fluke, two to be a coincidence and three to be a trend. Despite this, Lori’s rig was not producing and she eagerly changed over to the flies that I was fishing. It had an immediate effect and she began picking up fish.
“The problem was that the wind came up and began affecting our drifts. It is difficult to catch trout without a perfect drag-free drift. When the wind is blowing this hard, it can easily make the boat go faster than the river. As it changed direction, it would move us from side to side, which would push up from the most productive water.
“When we fish together, I prefer mild winds so that we can both fish together. When the winds are this heavy I have to concentrate on steering the boat and not fish myself. I laid down my rod and picked up the paddle. Lori got into the zone and caught several nice trout. I didn’t mind not fishing. It was a great day and I was with Lori watching her catch trout.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.72 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 913.93 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).

(updated 3-4-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said, “Moss alert. Spring transition. Late winter early spawn. There has been a small wave of fish moving up. Target south facing creeks and pockets with a little warmer water. The shad are breaking up.” Spend your idle time on the graph looking for loons and gulls. The bite is all about timing. You’re either going to hammer them or have a day of fishing around shad.
“The shad kill was the biggest I have seen on Bull Shoals,” Del said. He suggests using jigs, Rapalas or spoons.
“The deep bite is slowly going away. If it’s windy, use Damiki drop-shot with a McMinnow. Shad are up high in the water column. Use jerkbait like a Megabass early on bluff end points with shad or close to them. The backs of creeks still have a little color.”
Surface water temperature is ranging 44-48 degrees. The lake is down by about a half-foot.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 554.19 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 3-4-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report. Click on the resort website linked above for more information.

(updated 3-4-2021) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report. Look for new reports later in March.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 3-4-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1.1 feet to rest at 0.3 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below or near power pool. With the severe weather past us, expect lower levels of generation.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during 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.
John says, “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 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), and 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 3-4-2021) 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.