Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 19, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 20, 2021.

White River
(updated 5-20-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said fishing the White River tailwater in Cotter this past week meant keeping your rain suit near and ensuring your tackle box contained rainbow-hued baits. Any pink-and-blue blade, pink body or rainbow skirt on a Rooster Tail, spinner or spoon attracted a trail of trout. Bull Shoals Lake is continuing to rise as the spring rains in southwest Missouri and north-central Arkansas fill the reservoirs, but to alleviate conditions further downriver the Army Corps of Engineers and the Southwestern Power Administration are maintaining low-level releases. Here at Cotter, water level is averaging about a unit and a half (about 4,000 cfs). Fly-anglers had major success Wednesday with a black and silver (zebra) midge, mostly upstream from Cotter near Wildcat Shoals.
“We've been able to spend some time on the Buffalo National River this past week, too. Water clarity was near perfect for smallmouth bass prior to the last rainstorm. A beauty of a smallmouth, 20 inches and growing, was caught on a watermelon, red-flecked Gitzit.
“I can't remember a spring where the trees looked so full and green; the colors are so vibrant this year. Come visit and experience the Natural State in all it's springtime glory. Drop in and say ‘Hey’ on your way to the river.”

(updated 5-20-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Tuesday that during the past week they had several rain events (combined for about a half-inch here in Cotter), cool temperatures and, at times, heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.2 feet to land at 17.6 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 15.4 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 2 feet to rest at 1.6 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.4 feet below the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 7.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.4 feet below the top of the flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 10.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 12.7 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains, with more coming!
On the lower flows, the fishing on the White has been moderate! The top spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (sizes 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).

(updated 5-13-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said the fishing is going really well this week. Anglers are having good success catching rainbows and browns. The river is clear and at a normal level, and the Army Corps of Engineers is running 3-4 generators.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 680.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.86 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 917.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.42 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 5-20-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reports that there is limited parking and boat ramp access is an issue due to high water. Bull Shoals is 21 feet above normal pool and rising as of earlier this week. Plan ahead especially on weekends. Despite the flooding, water clarity is good. The fishing is good. They are moving up with water capitalizing on the perch spawn and some on the old shoreline. Smallmouth mostly are in mid-lake area target points and secondary swings close to the main lake. The shad are moving. Fishing in the shad, try a fluke or swimbait 2.8. The topwater bite has started; a popper or small walk-the-dog Spook or Lucky Craft smaller profile will work. Powerfish windy, cloudy days with Whopper Plopper, a buzzbait, a bright spinnerbait, or Chatterbait in dirty flat winds shallow. If it’s clear, use flat Blue Birds, or also use Senko green pumpkin shaky head and ol’ Ned rig Carolina tube. Green pumpkin or watermelon red colors are best in clear conditions. Target points, humps, etc. and keep the boat off the old shoreline, 25 feet off. The backs of creeks have a little color change. We always catch them on a jig in channel swings. Also go with a green pumpkin Beaver flipping the shallow laydowns and bushes in the right area. Fish the conditions. Fishing is good now, in spite of the big rise in water. Surface water temperature is 65 degrees in the main lake and 70s in the backwaters.
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 567.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.61 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).

No reports.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 5-20-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 10.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 12.7 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains, with more coming!
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 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.
John also said, “A couple of weeks ago I wrote about running into a feeding frenzy on Dry Run Creek, where the trout were keying in on fish pellets in the discharge from the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery. At the time, I did not have a pellet fly with me and I made one by rubbing mud into an egg fly. It worked and set my mind to working on how to add a pellet fly to my fly box because I feel that it represented a reliable food source and would work again.
“My first encounter with a pellet fly was many years ago on the Little Red River, where many fly-fishers were fishing pellet flies below the discharge pipes from the Greers Ferry National Fish Hatchery.
“A few years ago, when Dave and Emily Whitlock were in the process of moving to Oklahoma, the local ladies fly-fishing group, the Damsel Flies, had a farewell party for Emily at the Whitlock Home. My wife, Lori, attended, and while all of the other ladies were inside drinking margaritas she stayed outside and fished the pond with a Woolly Bugger.
“Dave came out and told her that was not the way they fished the pond. He clipped off her Woolly Bugger and tied on a pellet fly. He grabbed a scoop of catfish food and tossed the food into the pond. A feeding frenzy erupted and he instructed Lori to cast into the center of the feeding frenzy. She did as directed and was soon into a nice fish. After a long struggle she managed to land a 12-pound carp, with Dave’s assistance with the net. That is why she was able to identify what was happening on Dry Run Creek the other day.
“When I returned home, I set about coming up with a pellet fly. I searched my fly boxes (I have thousands of flies) and found none. I did find several egg flies that were the right size. I thought that the egg flies would work if they were the right color, brown.
“I went to Natural State Fly Shop looking for brown egg yarn. I found none, but Bruce, the shop manager, gave me a couple of pellet flies that he made from brown foam. A few days later, Danny Sabo, a fishing buddy, gave me a similar fly to try out.
“Since I couldn’t find the right color for my eggs, I decided to make it. I went on Amazon and bought a brown Sharpie pen. I then took the eggs I had found (they were red and yellow) and colored them brown. They looked like the ones that Dave Whitlock tied. Now all I have to do is field test them.
“The next time Lori or I have a trip to Dry Run Creek we will carry both the foam and dyed egg patterns to see how they work.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 5-13-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high. 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.