Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 7, 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 8, 2021.

White River
(updated 4-8-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River is flowing very fast and deep through the Arkansas Ozarks, so be prepared to add weight to your line, go deep and get ready for a fight because the trout have never been healthier and stronger.
“Some say the browns are getting lazy, though; they don't have to search for food since it's coming right at them all the time from banks saturated with the high water. So, put your bait right in front of them and flash it around. From Wildcat Shoals to the top of Buffalo Shoals, White River anglers have been well rewarded when fishing upstream or down from Cotter.
“The big winner this week was the No. 5 Rainbow Rapala Countdown. But we've had a day or two of very finicky fish; keep moving and you'll come across a deeper hole where you'll find the trout getting out of the fast water. Lower your weighted line with a bit of shrimp as close to the bottom as you can and you'll likely feel a tug before you reach the bottom.
“Come to the river and discover your little haven of serenity. We'll help you find your way there.”

(updated 4-8-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said they are still not seeing a lot of rainbows, noting that there has only been one stocking this season. More brown trout are being caught than rainbow trout, they say. Anglers are using pink worms, PowerBait and shrimp. Fly-fishermen are using really big flies to get down to the bottom. The river clarity is “pretty clear, slightly clear” and the river level this week has been high. Overall trout bite is fair, they said.

(updated 4-8-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Monday that during the past week they had a minor rain event (just a trace in Cotter), warmer temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.1 feet to rest at 9.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 26.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.5 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 2.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 5.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water. Due to recent rain, all of the lakes in the White River system are now above normal pool.

On the heavy flows fishing has been spotty. 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 San Juan worm and egg pattern; use long leaders and lots of lead).
Remember that the White and North Fork 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.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 667.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.19 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-8-2021) 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 59 to mid-60s degrees. The water level is high, about 9 feet above normal pool and rising.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 558.80 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

No reports.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 4-8-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 5.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 20.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had no wadable water. 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 San Juan worm and egg pattern combination.
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 remain 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. 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 says, “I was attending a birthday party a couple of weeks ago (everyone had been vaccinated). I had a conversation with my friend Dennis Galyardt about tiger trout. He is a retired guide and teacher who spends half his time here and half in Colorado. Dennis is an accomplished angler and is also a key member of the Sowbug Roundup committee. We were both intrigued with tiger trout.
“What is a tiger trout? It is a sterile crossbreed of the brown and brook trout. Other crossbreeds are a cuttbow (a cross between a cutthroat and a rainbow trout) or a labradoodle (a cross between a Labrador retriever and a poodle). This is considered an anomaly in nature because the species are quite different. The brown trout is a European breed known for its ability to survive in tough conditions. The brook trout is actually a char that is native to the east coast of the United States and is known for its stringent requirement for clean cold water. The brook trout has 84 chromosomes and the brown has 80.
“The tiger trout has the coloration of the brown and the vermiculations (the worm-like markings) of the brook -- this gives it a tiger-like appearance. It also has the white leading edge on its fins.
“We knew that the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission had stocked some tiger trout at Bull Shoals that it acquired from Wyoming and raised at the Jim Hinkle State Fish Hatchery on the Spring River, to provide us with a new variety of trout to catch. We had also read that during a recent shocking census of Dry Run Creek the AGFC had found a tiger trout. How did it get there?
“This gives us two possibilities. One is that the tiger trout was stocked at Bull Shoals and migrated to Dry Run Creek. This is a trip of 50 miles. How and why would this happen? That is a long, difficult trip in a boat. But to swim there would be incredible.
“The second possibility is that the tiger trout was born there. Both brook and brown trout species are present and conditions on Dry Run Creek are pristine. I have not seen any evidence that this has occurred nor have I heard any. That would be a long shot at best.
“A week later, I got a phone call from Dennis. His grandson, Rohan, was visiting and they spent a substantial portion of six days during the visit on Dry Run Creek. In the process, they caught a tiger trout. It was a nice 14-inch female. Rohan caught it on a size 18 red midge.
“This is fantastic. Rohan was stoked. I was a bit jealous. I have never caught a tiger trout. It is on my bucket list. Congratulations, Rohan. I am ready to try for a tiger trout for my clients.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 4-8-2021) 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.