Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 28, 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 29, 2021.

White River
(updated 4-29-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said that when the early morning mist is on the river, it's a perfect time to lay a line on the water and wait for that first tug. The water level has returned to a fairly consistent flow of one to three generators – you'll see a swift current in many parts of the river. Keep your bait near the bottom and expect the bite nearer the bank. The rainbow catch is improving after a few weeks of some unusually slow days. Try any rainbow bait, especially the Mepps Spinnerbait with the rainbow blade; it's attracting a lot of attention. Turn to the old faithful baits: the red-gold Thomas Buoyant Spoon caused a splash this past week, and the ever-successful shrimp/PowerBait brought in rainbows left and right. Remember, too, if you’re not having any luck, try something different right away; change up the color you’re using, or even just reverse the order. Redworms have rewarded lots of anglers in the afternoon when the flow from the dam increases. “Last week we saw some good-sized rainbows reeled in as well as some keeper browns. Visit the White River in Arkansas Ozark country and take time to slow down and relax.”

(updated 4-29-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said rainbows and brown trout are “doing OK.” The clarity of the river is very muddy and the level is high.

(updated 4-29-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Wednesday that during the past week (before Wednesday’s rain front moved through), they had a few rain events that combined for about an inch in Cotter, warmer temperatures and heavy winds at times. The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady at 5.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 30.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool and 15.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.9 foot to rest at 2.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had some wadable water. Norfork Lake remained steady at 4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had some wadable water.
On the lower flows the fishing has been hot! The top 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 dropper).
Remember that the White River, Norfork tailwater 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 667.14 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 917.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl).

(updated 4-29-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that water temperature is in the mid-60s and the level is high. Fish are still in all stages of the spawn. In the mid-lake area, target points and swings close to spawning pockets. Hit the south-facing pockets and gravel flats. The shad are schooling back up so look for shad balls in the creeks. There’s shad spawn happening. Fishing around the shad, try a fluke shallow or swimbait 2.8 Damiki rig. A little topwater activity has started; try a popper or smaller walk-the-dog profile. Powerfish windy, cloudy days with a bright spinnerbait and Chatterbait in dirty shallow water. If it’s clear use green pumpkin shaky heads and ol’ Ned rig Carolina tubes. Green pumpkin or watermelon red colors are good. Use Senkos in the spawning pocket bushes. The backs of creeks have a little color change. You can always catch them on a jig in channel swings. Also try a green pumpkin Beaver flipping in shallow water and lay downs and bushes in the right area. Fish the conditions.
Visit Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing the lake.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 560.60 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl).

(updated 4-15-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is in the prime of the spring fishing season. Crappie and bass have both started their spawning process, which will continue for several weeks if not more. Cool fronts during this process do tend to slow things down. Walleye have completed their spawn and are starting to show up all over the lake. White bass should have spawned already, “but from what I’ve seen with the few I have cleaned they are just starting to get ready,” he says. “The cold February might have really messed with their cycle.
Striped bass and hybrid bass will spawn soon if the water temperature rises a little more. Overall this spring is acting very similar to prior years, which means a good bite for most species.
Crappie are being caught with three different methods. Cast a small jig right into the shoreline with a very light jighead. Let it fall slowly and twitch it out of the sunken brush until you feel a strike. Best areas are where there is dead wood sunken on the shoreline or where the shore has a lot of sunken buckbrush due the slight rise in the water level. You can also fish brushpiles that are 20-30 feet deep. The crappie have typically been on the tops of the brush or out along the sides of the brush. A second method is to vertical-jig a small spoon or a small jig with a very lightweight jighead. Let it fall slowly and typically a crappie will pick it up before it stops falling. A live minnow with a slip float is also a good method for brushpile fishing. The third method (the one Lou says he prefers at this time) is trolling Berkley Flicker Minnows size 7 and 9. “I slow-troll with my trolling motor at a speed of 1.2 to 1.4 mph. I try to stay in 18-40 feet of water. There are schools of crappie out in the deep water staging for the spawn and when your bait goes through the school it gets hammered. The best areas to fish are back in coves and creeks that have brushpile throughout the cove.
Bass fishing has also been very good. The bass are up in shallow water feeding on baitfish and small bluegills. “I have found them back in creeks and coves. A lot of the time they are all the way in the back in very shallow water. Try crank baits, soft plastic jerk baits and jigs worked slowly along the bottom. On windy days, spinnerbaits will work wonders. Topwater action has started, but isn’t consistent at this time due the cool water. When I have found this action, it has been in the backs of creeks that the wind has been blowing into. Typically, you will find a lot of baitfish in the same area.”
Striped bass and hybrid bass fishing is also picking up. “Tuesday morning, I found some topwater action for striped bass. The water was not boiling, but there were many fish individually busting the surface feeding on bait. I tried throwing a Zara Spook with no success and switched to a long 5-inch swimbait with a paddle tail and it was hammered. I did not let it sink very much, but only retrieved at a medium speed, letting it drop slowly as it came back to the boat. It is a blast when a big fish hammers the bait and just starts running in the opposite direction. All you can do is hang on until it decides it is tired of running. I have also found this species on main lake points early in the morning, as well as late in the day up in the sunken buckbrush, feeding on shad. They tend to push the bait up to the shoreline to make them easy pickings. Cast a swimbait or a fluke up into the brush with a steady retrieval to the boat and hang on.”
The lake level has been falling slowly for the past week or so, but now is stable due to power generation being reduced from two generators to just one. The current lake level is 557.72 feet msl, which is only 4 feet over normal pool levels. The surface lake temperature ranges from the upper 50s to low 60s depending on the time of day. The lake is clearing with just a slight stain. With the clearer water, make sure you use clear or vanishing fishing line and as light of a test line as you feel comfortable fishing with.
Lou adds, “If you are looking for frequent fishing information on Norfork Lake, go to Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page. Daily posts of my fishing trip, as well as our guests. You will find some very helpful information. Happy fishing and see you on the lake.”

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 4-29-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake remained steady at 4 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 22.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had some wadable water.
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. John’s current favorite combination is a pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper.
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.
John also said, “Earlier this week my wife, Lori, had the second day of a two-day trip on Dry Run Creek. I had guided another angler on the White the day before. I usually accompany her whenever she has a trip on Dry Run Creek because I enjoy being with her and I love guiding on the creek. I went along to help where I could.
“On the first day Lori had done well. They caught several trout but had not landed a trophy trout. Our goal every time we guide on Dry Run Creek is to land at least one trophy.
“Lori started the day fishing her favorite hole. Caleb landed one early in the day, only to lose the next few trout. I took a turn at guiding at another spot. I observed that he did not keep his rod tip up when fighting his trout and that was allowing slack in the line causing him to lose trout. I worked with him to correct that problem. I also taught him to mend in order to get a drag-free float. Lori had concentrated on improving his casting and exuberant hook setting.
“We moved back to our initial spot and things got better. Caleb was a quick study and was fishing more effectively. He began landing fish. We kept changing flies and we began having success with sowbugs that my old fishing buddy, Henry Seay, had tied for Lori.
“About that time, the hatchery discharge became stained. This happens when they clean the raceways in the hatchery. As we watched there was a feeding frenzy in the creek. Dozens of trout were aggressively feeding on the creek’s surface. At first, Lori and I thought it was some kind of major insect hatch, but we saw no insects. Then Lori noticed fish pellets on the surface of the water. The trout were feeding on trout food that was being flushed into the creek as the hatchery raceways were being cleaned. Lori and I had never observed this in decades of experience on Dry Run Creek.
“We needed a fish pellet fly but we had none. I went through my fly box and searched its contents for the closest match based on size, shape and color. I found a small egg pattern that was the right size and shape but was a bright yellow. It was the best match. To make it closer, I rubbed dirt into the fly, staining it a dark brown. When I was finished it looked a lot like the pellets.
“I handed it to Lori and she tied it on Caleb’s line. He began casting it. On the third cast, the strike indicator disappeared and he set the hook. Chaos ensued. A big trout was on the line and it was angry. I grabbed our big net and Lori stayed at Caleb’s side, calmly coaching him on how to land the big rainbow. After several minutes, the trophy trout finally surrendered to the net.
“Our goal had been accomplished. It was a really fat 25-inch female rainbow. Caleb had worked constantly all day listening and learning. It all paid off when he got a shot at a trophy. Congratulations Caleb!
“Lori and I saw something we had never seen and learned a new trick. We will add some small brown eggs to our fly boxes.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 4-29-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are rising (it was raining heavily as this was written). With the warm temperatures the bite is better. 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.