Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 21, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 22, 2021.

White River

(updated 7-22-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is 23 feet (684 feet msl elevation) above the established seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl, “so we're seeing consistently higher water levels from the dam this week with little or no drop overnight. High water means the trout have lots of hiding places and lots of food to catch their attention -- you'll need lots of savvy. While challenging, higher water levels might mean fewer fish on the stringer but it also increases the odds of catching a full-sized rainbow or German brown trout.
“Use bright, fluorescent egg patterns (peach is a great color right now), steep your shrimp in garlic salt, and keep your bait nearer the bottom. Early morning is the best time to be on the river with crawdad tails or crawfish crankbaits cast toward the bank in the grassy areas. Add some Marabou Jigs to your arsenal (try the white skirts with white or pink heads) for some diversity and look for a rainbow Rapala Countdown (size 5 or size 7). Drift-fishing will still be the norm for the next month or two. Practice patience and wait for the bite. It's summertime -- time to take it easy, slow down, relax and enjoy life in Te Natural State on the White. See you on the river!”

 

(updated 7-22-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said Wednesday afternoon that the rainbows have picked up this week, while anglers also reported catching a few browns. (They also hear that walleye fishing is good on Bull Shoals Lake). Clarity in the river is improving, they report, while the river level is high (30 feet) with four generators running and night and eight during the day. Trout are good on PowerBait, pink worms, bigger stick baits, Rooster Tails (in light green or brown), worms and shrimp.

 

(updated 7-22-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had several minor rain events that combined for a total of an inch and a half in Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1 foot to land at 23.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 10.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.9 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 5.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 3.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 12.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 11.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some 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. Expect high levels of generation in the near future.

With the higher flows, the fishing in the White River has slowed. 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 San Juan Worm with an egg dropper).
John also said, “Yesterday, I was in our vegetable garden repairing a soaker hose while my wife, Lori, was harvesting heirloom tomatoes (my absolute favorite), when I saw a grasshopper. Most gardeners would say something they shouldn’t and reach for an insecticide to deal with this garden pest. I was actually glad to see it.
“When grasshoppers are not dining, on heirloom tomato plants, they are being blown into or falling in the river, producing what many consider to be the best topwater action in fly-fishing. I am a major fan. This chance encounter told me it was hopper time!
“I did what any serious fly-angler would do: I headed for the river. Lori was tied up with a dog-training class and could not join me. I was disappointed because she is my fishing buddy and I always enjoy spending time on the water with her. I hooked up my boat and drove to my favorite access on the White River. The water flow was about 13,000 cfs (about four full generators). The forecast high was 90 degrees with wind of 5-10 mph. It was near-perfect conditions.
“I selected one of the three 9-foot 5-weight client rods that I keep in the back of my Suburban for customer use. I actually prefer a 9-foot 6-weight (the heavier weight rod handles big flies a little better) but these rods were already in the car and I was a man on a mission to catch trout on grasshoppers.
“I attached a fresh 7.5-foot 4X to the fly line with a loop to loop connection. I then tied on a size 8 western pink lady grasshopper. This is my favorite hopper pattern. It is a foam pattern so it does not have to be dressed with fly floatant. It floats like a cork, on its own. It has rubber legs that give it a lively action and it has a bright quick sight on its back, making it easy to see when fishing it.
“If I encounter picky trout, I usually switch over to a Dave’s Hopper. It looks more like a real grasshopper and floats well. I have had success with selective trout in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park that would not hit anything else. I have also done well with it on Dry Run Creek where the trout there refused my western pink lady.
“I began my drift. I cast my fly as close to the bank as I could get. I would let it drift and would occasionally twitch the fly to make it look like my hopper, a land-based insect, was struggling in the water. I also let the fly hit the water with a solid kerplunk. Here again, I was trying to imitate a struggling insect. I got a solid take, I waited a second and then set the hook. It was a solid 21-inch brown that eventually came to the net. That was the first of many nice trout I caught on a hopper that day.
“It is hopper season. Get out there and enjoy some great topwater action!”

 

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 683.91 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 916.73 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 7-15-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported Wednesday that limited parking and boat ramp access remains an issue there. Plan ahead, especially on weekends. Despite the flooding water, lake clarity is still good. There are still some fish up shallow. Get up early and look shallow on the flats in the creeks for schoolers. Fish with topwater baits, poppers, Lucky Craft Gunfish and the like. Once the sun pops up, fish a Beaver or a big worm in the laydowns. On windy and cloudy days, use a Whopper Plopper, a buzzbait or a Horny Toad. If it’s clear and flat, use blue birds and target smallmouth bass or spotted bass on long points and bluff ledges. Get vertical and drop-shot in 24-32 feet off the bluffs and on long points, or use the old Neg rig and target points, humps and islands in 15-20 feet depth. Keep the boat off the old shoreline, and FISH THE CONDITIONS.
Surface temperature is 80 degrees. The lake is 26 feet above normal conservation pool. Clarity is good. Check out Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals.

 

Norfork Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 568.30 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 7-22-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no report.

 

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 7-22-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 12.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 11.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some 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. 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 flooding over recent past springs. 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 says his favorite combination now is a San Juan worm with an egg dropper.

Dry Run Creek is fishing moderately. 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.

Remember that the White and Norfork 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.

 

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 7-22-2021) 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.