Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 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 March 18, 2021.

White River

(updated 3-18-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Spring Break on the White River near Cotter means lots of young fishers. Seeing families enjoying the great outdoors and being able to spend time together without the everyday hustle and bustle is the best--fishing for trout in the beauty of The Natural State, catching and releasing more than they can keep, makes for a wonderful start to the season. Water levels have been a little inconsistent this past week; some fairly swift releases for several hours, then dialing back to minimum flow, testing an angler's skills. When the river is full of sculpins, you can be sure the browns will hit on them, and this has proven to be the case this week. Most of the browns that were brought near to or into the boats were caught with a sculpin, but don't leave the minnows at home. Some larger rainbows were hooked with them, a cutthroat or two and a few of the browns. Shiny gold spinners and spoons attracted the rainbows, as well as the always favorite shrimp/egg pattern/power bait combo; pink eggs or dough worked best. Springtime fishing is terrific, especially if you're prepared for the weather: Mornings can be very cool, and then there's the spring showers…. Bring a poncho and be awed by the gift of the rain to the earth.”

(updated 3-18-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) reported Wednesday about noon that there have been a lot of up-and-down days for brown trout this week. Rainbow trout fishing is good, but the fish are on the smaller side, they report. They hear that the nearby slough is going to be opened up soon to clean it out. The clarity currently is “a little stained” and the river level at midday Wednesday was high. They say that mostly it’s been three generators or less operating from the dam.

(updated 3-18-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said earlier this week that during the past week they have had three rain events that combined for 3½ inches in the Cotter area, along with warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 2 feet to rest at 2 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 34 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 2.8 feet to rest at 1.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 14.4 feet above the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.1 feet to rest at 0.4 foot above seasonal power pool and 9.2 feet below the top of the flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 3 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.9 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night. Due to recent rain all of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool.
When there have been moderate flows in recent weeks, the White has waded 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 pink San Juan worm).
John also said, “The temperatures have warmed (it is to reach 70 degrees in Cotter today as I write this). I even saw a crocus in bloom in the yard today. Spring is finally here and with it are parents with their children on spring break. In the past week, I have had two trips to Dry Run Creek, with more on my schedule.
“My first trip was the most interesting. Brandon brought his 12-year-old son, Jack. Two years ago he had brought his other son, Hugh, when he was 12. This is a great way to introduce them to fly-fishing because they get dad’s and the guide’s full, uninterrupted attention while they fish.
“We met at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery at 7:30. I furnished waders for both of them. That allows me to access portions of the creek that cannot be effectively fished from the bank. It was 31 degrees when we started, so I also furnished them with wool fingerless gloves. We waded upstream to a nice spot and caught three trout. The largest was 16 inches. Jack handled them well. I thought he was ready for larger trout.
“We waded upstream to my favorite spot and began fishing. We landed a couple of nice rainbows. One was 19 inches long and the other was 21. I was changing flies from time to time. I tried sowbugs, San Juan worms and egg patterns. It was time to try the mop fly, my most productive pattern of late.
“The effect was instantaneous. On the first drift, we landed another 21-inch rainbow. This one was a bit fatter than the previous one. I was stoked, as was Jack. He cast again and hooked a nice brown trout. The fight went on for a while but the trout eventually surrendered to the net. This was the fish we had been looking for, a trophy brown. He was a 24-inch hook-jawed male with a wide girth. We took a few minutes to photograph him but he slipped back into the water before we got the picture we wanted, Dad and Jack together, in a selfie, with the big fish. We were able to get a good picture of Jack with the trout before he escaped.
“While Dad and Jack were celebrating the catch with fist bumps, I picked up the rod to hand it back to Jack, when I felt something on the line. I immediately handed the rod to Jack. It was a big brown. It did not fight as hard as the previous trout. As it slipped into the net, I thought it looked familiar. On closer study, I realized it was the same brown we had just released. We had caught the same fish twice in a row. I was amazed, as I had never done that before. We had another opportunity to get the photo we wanted. I took the camera and made sure the photo was good. We released the trout. It was pretty tired after two battles and stayed motionless at our feet. We stood there for a few minutes and watched it regain its strength. It finally swam off and we resumed fishing.
“It was another stellar day on Dry Run Creek. Life is good!”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 663.85 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 917.64 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).

(updated 3-18-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock warns anglers to “look for debris.” He says fishing is now in the spring transition with fish showing signs of early pre-spawn. “There has been a wave of pale fish moving up,” he said. “Target south-facing creeks, secondary points and pockets with a little warmer water. Dirty water has some warmer temps.”
He says the shad are breaking up. “Look for loons and gulls. That bite is all about timing.” Del says he’s using a Megabass jerkbait. “The deep bite is going away. If it’s windy or cloudy, use Powerfish, spinnerbait or Chatterbait shallow. If it’s flat, use McMinnow.
“Shad are up high in the water column. Use jerkbait early on bluff ends and points with shad or close to them. Shaky head and a Ned rig as well. The backs of creeks have a little color change. There is a crankbait bite, he said, and Wiggle Wart, and Rock Crawler are working. If it’s windy fish the steeper banks with nasty rock in 4-10 feet. Match the colors with water clarity. Red and green Craw are working in the clear water. “Beaver flipping is becoming a player. Fish the conditions.”
The lake is murky and the surface temperature has had a wide variance, between 46-54 degrees. The water is now higher than normal. On the lower end of the lake it is 4 feet above normal pool and rising. “The pool lake shot up 5 feet in the past week,” Del notes.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 558.98 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 3-18-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report. Click on the resort website linked above for more information.

(updated 3-18-2021) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters had no report. Look for new reports later this month.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 3-18-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 3 feet to rest at 3.3 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.9 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water at night. Due to recent rain all of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool.
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. 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 increased pressure with warmer weather. Fish early or late to avoid the crowds (the creek is open to fishing from sunrise to sundown). 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 3-18-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. With the cool temperatures the bite is still slow. 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.