Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 16, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report June 17, 2021.

White River
(updated 6-17-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “White River water levels below Bull Shoals Dam have been somewhat disparate over this past week, ranging from minimum flow (600 cfs) to six or more generators/turbines (19,000 cfs). Bull Shoals Lake level seems to have topped at 689 feet msl, although Beaver and Table Rock lakes are still above desired power pool and will continue to discharge into Bull Shoals and we'll eventually see the increase in the tailwater here in Cotter.
“The trout are still biting and the take has been respectable. Local anglers and the professional guides on the White River are becoming accustomed to high water and have figured out the best baits for varying water conditions.
“(Wednesday) the best bait was the trusty bubblegum pink worm. We drifted water that was fairly steady at about 2,500 cfs (less than one unit of generation). It beat out the gold and orange Vibrax spinner and the tri-olive Zig Jig. But the rainbow-hued Cleo played a role in a few catches, too: Make it dance during the retrieve to catch their attention. The Smithwick or Headhunter Clown Crankbait caused a stir that's worth your time to check out, especially as the water levels begin to creep up when the Army Corps of Engineers decides to lower the lake.
“It's gotten pretty warm, so drink plenty of water, get your electrolytes to stay hydrated, and continue to enjoy our Natural State.”

(updated 6-17-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said Monday afternoon that during the past week they had three rain events that combined for a half an inch, brutally hot temperatures and, at times, heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.5 foot to land at 27.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 5.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 0.5 foot to rest at 6.1 feet above seasonal power pool and 7.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 6.9 feet above seasonal power pool and 1.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White saw significant wadable water this week. Norfork Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 16.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 7.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water every day. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains. Expect high levels of generation in the near future.
On the lower flows, the fishing on the White River has been good! 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 and Norfork 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.
John also described a boating situation on the water and a good lesson for others who attempt to negotiate tailwaters with bigger boats: “Last Saturday I had a guide trip with a couple of anglers from Missouri. They were seasoned fly-fishers and did well. The weather was nice, warm and sunny with little wind. It was a great day to be on the water.
“The river was on the bottom. I mean bottom. It just doesn’t get any lower than that. I have a propeller-driven motor and was limited where I could go. It should be noted that when the river is this low there are spots where even jet-drive motors cannot go. There are rocks and other subsurface obstructions just below the surface that can prevent passage in certain spots or worse harm your watercraft.
“As we were fishing near a riffle (riffles are turbulent sections of the river that are shallow and contain significant rock structures), we noted a large boat approaching. It was much wider than my river boat, which is about the widest production boat on the river. It looked like a lake boat with a center steering console and a big jet motor. There were two adults and three kids in the boat.
“They tried going through the riffle and were having difficulty making it through. A nearby wade fisherman told them to try going through the deep channel on the left side of the riffle. They continued trying to get through the riffle with no success. I motored nearby and explained that the only safe way through was the deep left channel. They moved their boat to the left and finally made it through the channel.
“A while later we were having lunch near the ramp when a couple of guides arrived at the ramp. They had been fishing far upstream and the water had come up and was running dirty. They came downstream to my location seeking clean fishable water. We determined that the water would come up early. We also compared flies and noted that we were successfully using the same patterns.
“Later that afternoon we saw the big boat heading back. To my surprise it steamed back through the middle of the riffle where it lodged on a large rock that was about an inch below the surface of the water. Rather than trying to back off the rock the boat operator gunned the engine to try and scoot across it. Now it was really stuck.
“I went nearby to survey the situation. There was no damage done to the boat and there was no danger involved. I suggested that the safest thing to do was to wait until the water came up in a few minutes and let the rising water free them.
“Another boat came by and decided to help. The new angler moved nearby and got out of the boat. He managed to push the boat off the rock but lost his shoes in the process. No one was hurt. A few minutes later the water came up.
“Knowing your boat’s limitation and listening to local anglers is always good advice!”

(updated 6-17-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said Wednesday afternoon that the river level is low for the most part. It’s down in the mornings, then the Corps of Engineers turns up the generators. Trout are good. Best baits working are pink PowerBait, Little Silver Cleo’s, Rooster Tails (light greens and browns), worms and shrimp.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 689.01 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.90 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 922.85 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 6-17-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported Bull Shoals is 30 feet high. Temperature of the water is ranging from 78 into the 80s, depending on location. Limited parking and boat ramp access is an issue. Plan ahead, especially on the weekends. Despite the flooding water, clarity is still good. The fishing is fair. Warmer temps have led to more boat traffic. Some fish are up shallow with the high water, capitalizing on the perch and shad spawn. Look shallow on flats in the creeks. For smallmouth, check on the old shoreline toward the main lake area. Target long points and sunken humps and islands. The shad are moving. In the shad, try fluke or a 2.8 swimbait. The topwater bite has been good early or late using poppers or small walk-the-dog, Spook, Lucky Craft or some other smaller profile. Use Berkeley Surge early.
Powerfish windy, cloudy days with a Whopper Plopper, buzzbait, spinnerbait or Chatterbait in dirty water, in the flats and shallow. If it’s clear, use flat blue birds. Get vertical and use a drop-shot at 24-32 feet bluffs. Or use an ol’ Ned rig or deep crank in watermelon red color. Target points, humps, etc. Keep the boat off the old shoreline at 35 feet. The backs of creeks have a little color change. If the Corps of Engineers is running water, then fish points. You can always catch them on a jig in channel or channel swings.
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 573.03 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.65 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).

(updated 6-17-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is transitioning from the spring bite to the summer bite. In essence, the fish are going deeper as the water warms. “Thursday morning the surface temp was 84, but I don’t think this temp extends too far down at this time. As the warm water goes deeper, a thermocline will form and continue to go deeper as the water temp continues to rise.
“Overall, the fishing for most species on Norfork Lake has been very good. There is still a very good topwater bite for largemouth bass, as well as for striped and hybrid bass. I would assume the topwater activity for striped bass will not last much longer unless we get some cooler weather. It does not look like that will happen.
“I have mainly been using two different baits for topwater activity: my Kastmaster (blade-type bait) and a Zara Spook Jr. Today I strictly used the Kastmaster, as there was a lot of small debris floating and that is not conducive to using a Zara Spook. When I see fish chasing shad on the surface, I try to cast my bait just past the activity. When the bait hits the water. I count down 2 seconds, then I start the retrieval with a jerk, then pause, then reel, then pause and start it all over again back to the boat. You have to see what the fish are looking for speed-wise. The topwater activity for the striped bass starts around 5:30 a.m. and may last until about 6:30 to 7 a.m. Once the fish stop chasing shad on the surface, they start going deep. I am marking fish anywhere from 30 feet to 80 feet deep. Forty feet down seems to be a good place to set up your bait. Live bait is definitely working the best, but vertical jigging a ¾- to 1-ounce spoon is starting to pick us some nice fish.
“If you like trolling, an umbrella rig is working really well. Keep the bait 35-45 feet down and you will catch some nice stripers. A-rigs, deep-diving crankbaits and large swimbaits are also working well, but you will more than likely need to add some inline weight to get deeper. Using a down rigger would be the easiest.
“The largemouth bite has been very good. There are lots of fish up in the sunken brush, but many of them are shorts. The topwater for this species also starts at sunrise and typically has lasted longer than the striped bass topwater activity. I have found that the fish chasing shad close to shore are predominantly shorts, but if you look out in the same area in deeper water and notice fish chasing shad, you’ll find the bigger fish. Today I caught some real nice bass in 120 feet of water, roughly 50 yards away from the bank. The bass also are going deeper as the sun gets high in the sky. Start working the bottom when they go down, in 15-25 feet of water
“Best areas for me have been main lake points in the mid-lake area. I have always had the best luck finding fish on the points that have a deep-water channel swinging in close to the point. The fish are also back in several of the major creeks that are located in several different areas of the lake.
“If you are looking for almost daily fishing activity on Norfork Lake, go to our Facebook page for Hummingbird Hideaway Resort. I post daily fishing reports of what I am doing, as well as our guests. Norfork Lake level is fairly stable at this time and is rising less than 1 inch per day. The level is 573.02 feet msl. The surface water temperature was 84 degrees (Thursday) morning and the clear is fairly clear. If you are looking for a great vacation, call Hummingbird Hideaway Resort at 870-492-5113. Norfork Lake is all about fishing, playing or just relaxing on the water. Happy fishing.”

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 6-17-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.8 foot to rest at 16.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 7.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had wadable water every day. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all much higher due to recent rains. Expect high levels of generation in the near future.
The Norfork is fishing moderately. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the 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 poorly. 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 6-17-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. 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.