Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 26, 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 27, 2021.

White River
(updated 5-27-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Memorial Day signals the start of summer with all the fun family traditions of picnics, fishing, camping, fishing, barbecues, fishing and … more fishing, and fishing the White River for a boatload of trout makes memories for all ages. “It’s been a great week on the White – the water level has been low and the fish have been snapping at a variety of baits. Bull Shoals Lake elevation has reached 683 feet msl and is continuing to rise. We'll enjoy the lower flows while they last.
“The rainbow pattern on spinners and spoons is still attracting a lot of like-colored trout, or try a Rooster Tail with a white, fluorescent yellow or chartreuse body and gold blade, or same-colored eggs or egg patterns. Tie on a red wiggler or a juicy nightcrawler in the afternoon if generation flow increases. Low water levels on some mornings have made it easy to catch a sculpin or two to put at the end of your line and lure the larger browns. There have been numerous days with catches of 10 browns or more.
“Remember, the lower water means a narrow channel that everybody needs to traverse. Don't rush; take your time; enjoy the whole gamut of your fishing experience in our great Natural State of Arkansas.”

(updated 5-20-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Tuesday that during the past week they had several rain events combining for a bit over half an inch in Cotter, cool temperatures and, at times, heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.2 feet to land at 20.8 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 12.2 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.1 foot to rest at 1.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 13.3 feet below the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 7.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.6 feet below the top of the flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.9 foot to rest at 11.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has 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! Expect high levels of generation in the near future.
On the lower flows, the fishing on the White River has been moderate! The top spot has been Wildcat 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).
John also said, “I don’t know about you but I am getting tired of our near constant rain. This year we are above average on our rainfall. I am starting to have flashbacks of my time in Vietnam during the monsoon season, where it rained nonstop for months.
“The main differences are that no one is shooting at me here and I have much better rain gear. There I had a leaky poncho and self-draining jungle boots. Here I have a deluxe Gore-Tex rain suit with bib rain pants. I also have some nice L.L. Bean gumshoes that are quite waterproof. I always keep an additional rain suit in my boat in case I forget to wear mine or if a client does not have one. This better rain gear gives me an advantage as I guide, as I am better able to handle wet weather.
“Fly-fishing is a rain-or-shine sport. I never cancel a trip due to rain. I always say that nothing thins the herd like a little rain. I also say that the trout do not care because they are already wet. There is one exception and that is lightning. It is my understanding that NASA uses graphite (the material that most fly rods are made from) for its lightning rods. I will pull off the river, seek shelter and wait for the lightning to quit.
“For me the main problem is the aftermath of a heavy rain. My boat is full of water and I have to pull my plug to get the water out. There is always a bit of water left after doing this and I must use my bailer and sponge to get my boat completely dried out. If the rain is heavy, I might even get water in my lockers that must be removed.
“My rain gear is soaked. I hang it in my garage and let it dry thoroughly to prevent mildew. I inspect it and make any repairs that are necessary. After a guide trip in the rain last Saturday I noticed a seam that was coming undone that I repaired with UV wader repair. I carefully fold my rain gear and store it in my wader bag. My life jackets are wet and must be dried out before they are returned to my boat. Then there are my fly boxes. I have to open them during the rain to replace a lost fly or try a new one. The box is then wet and the flies are soaked. I have to carefully dry them out to keep my hooks from rusting. Rusty hooks are weaker and prone to breaking.
“Rain can be problematic, but cannot be avoided. The only thing to do is to grin and bear it. My real concern is that this unending rain is filling the lakes and will result in yet another high water year.”

(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 683.54 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 918.15 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.42 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 5-27-2021) 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 24 feet above normal pool and rising as of midday Wednesday. Temperature of the water is 67 degrees in the main lake and 70 degrees in the backwaters. Clarity is good. Plan ahead especially on weekends. The fishing is good. They are moving up with water capitalizing on the perch spawn and some on the old shoreline and the backs of creeks. Smallmouth bass are mostly 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 been good on a popper or small walk-the-dog baits, Zara Spooks or Lucky Craft and smaller profile. 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 and humps, and keep the boat off the old shoreline, 25 feet off. The backs of creeks have a little color change. You can 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. 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 568.46 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.61 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).

(updated 5-27-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 5-27-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.9 foot to rest at 11.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 11.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has 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! Expect high levels of generation in the near future.
The Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the flooding in recent years. 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.
Remember that the White River, Norfork tailwater 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 5-27-2021) 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.