Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 24, 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 25, 2021.

White River

(updated 3-18-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the warm weather is here and the fishing is hot on the rivers here in the Arkansas Ozarks. We have been provided with all types of water levels over the past seven days, fluctuating between low, shallow water to high, deep water, so our professionals have been creative in ensuring guests to the river continue to catch a good share of rainbows and a number of trophy trout for pictures and bragging rights. Be prepared to change your fishing tactics in the middle of the day as the water rises. Worms work very nicely as the water level increases. The brown trout have been biting anything from minnows to sculpins and some silver flash lures. Some browns have even been caught on the old standby of PowerBait and shrimp. With spring break continuing, the kids are staying busy catching rainbows with shrimp and bright fluorescent orange or yellow eggs. We're sending them back to school with some great fish tales.


(updated 3-25-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said it has “been a great week for fishing.” Anglers caught a lot of brown trout, with the biggest being 27 inches. The river clarity is a little stained, and the generation from the dam has been up and down a lot, they report. Overall trout bite is good.

(updated 3-25-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said earlier this week that during the past week they have had two rain events (combined for just a trace in Cotter), warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 5.1 feet to rest at 7.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 28.9 below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.5 foot to rest at 2.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 1.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 8.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 2.4 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.5 feet below the top of 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 the power pool.

On the moderate flows, 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 a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge).
John also gives an update on the Sowbug Roundup, an annual event in Mountain Home. “As many of you know, the Sowbug Roundup is the premier fly-fishing event that is organized and held locally. The event is hosted by the North Arkansas Fly Fishers (our local fly-fishing club, affiliated with Fly Fishing International). They have been putting on this event for over 20 years and it is arguably the finest show of its kind in the United States. It draws fly-tyers and attendees from all over our country and some foreign ones, too.
“Unfortunately, it was canceled at the last minute last year due to the coronavirus pandemic. I am a member of the Sowbug committee. We made a serious attempt to develop protocols to protect attendees but the impact of the virus overpowered us. We had been planning the 2020 Sowbug Roundup for 11 months and we were ready to go. Like many other events, a substantial portion of the financial investment was lost and much of the work was for naught.
“This year we were still reacting to the pandemic and we were forced to cancel the Sowbug Roundup for 2021. That is two years without our beloved event.
“Now we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Many members of the Sowbug committee have gotten their coronavirus vaccine and we feel that the remaining members will be vaccinated soon. We have scheduled our first committee meeting for July, which would give us plenty of time to prepare for the Sowbug Roundup in 2022. The scheduled date is March 24-26 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds.
“There is a great deal of work to be done. We have to send out invitations to the 100-plus tyers we expect to attend and tie. We have to schedule and manage the Fly Tying Contest (this is where I get involved). We had a successful contest before the 2020 Sowbug that got canceled. We want to acknowledge the winners and auction off the related fly plate. This is possibly the best fly plate we have ever created. It features some incredible flies and a spectacular work of original art from local artist Sandy Barksdale. It will compete with the fly plate for the 2022 fly-tying contest.

“There are always a lot of great items included in silent auctions, live auctions and raffles. We still have all of the incredible merchandise that we collected for the 2020 event, but also have even more quality items to add to the collection. I know that I have some great items to contribute. We have to recruit vendors, program presenters, featured fly-tyers and volunteers to help us put on the event.
“I cannot wait. This event has been sorely missed and there is a lot of pent up demand for it. I hope to see you there!”


Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 667.99 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 3-25-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says 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 is getting up to the upper 50s. The water is 9 feet above normal pool and rising.


Norfork Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 559.81 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

No reports.


Norfork Tailwater

(updated 3-25-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 2.4 feet to rest at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.5 feet below the top of 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 the power pool.

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 (size 18, 20, 22)like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (size 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, recently did well with an olive Woolly Bugger. Fishing is better in the morning,” he says.
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 3-25-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are clearing. 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.