Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 31, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report April 1, 2021.

White River
(updated 4-1-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) asked, “Ready to celebrate springtime?
“We've put winter behind us and are looking at warmer days and more sunshine. Bull Shoals Lake is at 670 feet msl elevation -- up about 13 feet in the last two weeks -- but the increase has slowed. Generation over the past three days has been heavy, averaging 14,000 cfs, about five units, making the rainbows a little skittish. When water releases settle to a steady amount, the bite will pick up. Keep your egg patterns handy, along with wriggling redworms. Drifting a bubblegum pink or white worm while letting the current move you downstream should stir some excitement.
“While the rainbow bite has been slow, the brown catch has been phenomenal with sculpins, and minnows (if you can find one). Lots of topwater action on the sunny days, with a tiny white and pink jig-like streamer. Come on over and experience trout catching at Cotter on the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks. Arkansas hospitality never fails to please.”

(updated 4-1-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said that of late they have not gotten a lot of rainbows. “Only one stocking truck has been there this whole season,” they report.” So, anglers are catching more browns than rainbows at this point of the season. The water is pretty clear, or “slightly clear,” they note. River level is high. Overall trout bite is rated fair this week.

(updated 4-1-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Monday that during the past week they had several rain events that combined for 1.75 inches in Cotter, along with warmer temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 4.5 feet to rest at 11.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 24.4 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 1.2 feet to rest at 0.9 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.1 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.1 feet to rest at 2.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.5 feet to rest at 7.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 19 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 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 reported, “Last week I went fishing with two anglers from Mississippi. They are repeat clients and they wanted to fish two half-days. They requested a one-day float and one day wading. Due to water conditions, we spent the first day in the boat.
“It was a cool start at 29 degrees but it promised to be much warmer in the afternoon. It was a beautiful sunny day. The water was pretty low but we expected rising water about 11 o’clock. I rigged their rods with a pheasant tail nymph and a ruby midge dropper. I added a split shot and a strike indicator.
“The early going was a bit slow but by midmorning the action picked up. We were picking up a couple of trout on each drift. The guys were enjoying themselves and it promised to be a great day. About that time something went very wrong. I had motor trouble. My engine was running well, but my shifter went out and I was unable to get it into gear. Luckily I was upstream of the ramp. I explained my problem and we decided to drift down to the access where I would put my boat on the trailer and we would finish the day wade-fishing.
“Suddenly, as I began paddling downstream, the fishing got hot. We boated six trout and they were still biting. About that time one of the anglers hit a nice 12-inch rainbow. I was very busy trying to steer the boat with my paddle when the angler, with the fish on, called out that a big brown was chasing his rainbow.
“The brown swooped toward the trout but missed it. It made another pass and missed it again. It made a third attack and nailed the rainbow. He swallowed it whole. We had a big brown on but had not hooked it. I put down my paddle and grabbed my net. My angler had been stripping in the rainbow. I called out to him to put it on the reel.
“I expected the brown to make a run. It was near the boat and we had a few inches of line out. To my astonishment, the brown never made a run. I can only surmise that after swallowing a 12-inch rainbow, the brown was a bit lethargic. It would be like me having a big steak and some good red wine. It shook its head violently and swam in circles but did not pull out any line. It finally came to the surface and I scooped it with my big boat net.
“We captured the fight on camera. We took a few minutes to get a few pictures of the 24-inch brown and did some hearty high-fives. We were stoked. I clipped the tippet. There was no way to get the fly back without harming the trout. I gently released the brown. A nice rainbow and a trophy brown on one fly, that is what I call good times!
“In almost 30 years of guiding, I have never seen this, nor had my clients. My wife, Lori, had hooked a small long-eared sunfish on Crooked Creek and a big smallmouth had swallowed it. She got it in. It was a great catch but not as good as this.
“I got the boat to the ramp without much trouble and got it loaded on the trailer. We decided to pull the plug a few minutes early and call it a day. Despite my motor problem, this was a fishing trip that I enjoyed and will never forget!”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 670.03 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 4-1-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says it’s spring and there’s early pre-spawn. “There has been a wave up. Target south-facing creeks, secondary points and pockets with a little warmer water close to spawning areas. Dirty water has some warmer temps but are also the first to cool off.
“Afternoon bite has been better. The shad are breaking up. Look for loons and gulls in the creeks. Jerkbait and swimbait powerfish on windy cloudy days. Bright spinnerbait, or a Chatterbait, for dirty and shallow. If it’s clear, flat shaky head and the ol’ Ned rig.
“The backs of creeks have a little color change. Crankbaits, Wiggle Wart and Rock Crawlers are working. Look for windy steeper banks with nasty rock. Fish in 4-10 feet and match the colors with water clarity. Bright fire-red or blue chartreuse for dirty water. Red and green craw are working in the clear water. You can always catch them on a jig in the channel swings.” Del says he’s been Beaver flipping in shallow lay downs, when brush becoming a player. “Fish the conditions,” he says.
Follow Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more tips and updates from Bull Shoals.
The lake is murky with a surface temperature ranging 53-58 degrees. The water level is high, about 11 feet above normal pool and rising.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 560.59 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

No reports.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 4-1-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1.5 feet to rest at 7.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 19 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 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, has done 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.
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 4-1-2021) 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.