Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 18, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report August 19, 2021.

White River
(updated 8-19-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said fishing from Cotter on the tailwater of Bull Shoals Dam produced a good quantity of fighting browns and healthy rainbows this week. All of the browns were less than trophy size but fought hard and gave the anglers a thrill. Minnows and live crawdads were once again the favored bait for browns.
Generation continues round-the-clock with a steady output of at least 11,500 cfs and higher in the late afternoons. Bull Shoals Lake level is just 12 feet above power pool and is dropping more rapidly as it approaches that desired seasonal elevation goal of 661 feet msl.
“This week, a mixture of baits was called for: One day we had luck with the silver Cleo, the next day the red/gold spoon won the bite, then white Rooster Tails; so keep a variety of smaller artificial baits on hand. Always be ready with some shrimp and scented egg pattern baits for a good limit of rainbows. Try adding a little garlic and salt to your shrimp for variety. The guides still like the Berkley Pink Worm -- better when drift-fishing from a boat -- on high water. Live worms are great when the water first comes up in the afternoon. Don't be afraid to try something you've never used before. If it doesn't work, change what you've got on your hook and dangle something new.
“Keep your sunscreen away from all baits and tackle. I'm not smart enough to know why, but I know that you'll lose a lot of fish if they detect sunscreen. Stay aware of your surroundings with the higher water and keep on angling.”

(updated 8-19-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said that this week there was not a lot of people fishing. The river level remains high at 30 feet, they reported Tuesday. Eight generators have been running round-the-clock. The overall trout bite was good, however. PowerBait is one of the main baits of choice, but anglers were also using pink worms, stick bait, Rooster Tails in light green or brown, worms and shrimp.

(updated 8-19-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a minor rain event totaling a quarter of an inch in Cotter; cooler, then hot, temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3.3 feet to land at 13.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 20.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock remained steady at 0.3 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 2 feet above seasonal power pool and 6.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 6.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 17.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water at night. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all still high due to spring rains but have dropped substantially from their highs. Expect high levels of generation to continue for the next few weeks.

“The hopper bite is in full swing,” John says. “Bang the bank with a grasshopper. My favorite fly for this technique is a western pink lady in a size 8. Add a midge dropper to increase your catch.”
With the higher flows, the fishing 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 says his current favorite combination is a San Juan Worm with a girdle bug dropper).

John also explains what goes into a typical guide’s day: “Most of the people who know me think I have it pretty easy as a fly-fishing guide. They think that all I have to do is take someone fishing. There is a bit more to it than that.
“My day begins the night before. I put ice packs in my Yeti cooler so that it will be cool enough to keep my lunch cool the next day. While I am doing that, I also inventory my food for the next day’s lunch. I make sure that I have mustard, mayo, bread, cold cuts, cheese, cookies, chips, soft drinks and bottled water. I am lucky that my wife, Lori, does the shopping. I gas up my motor to make sure that I have plenty for the next day. I then hook up my boat to my Suburban. I go to bed early because my day begins early.
“My alarm goes off at 5 a.m. I rise, shower and make coffee. I drink a couple of cups and fill up a large Yeti tumbler for later in the day. I pull out my iPhone and check the weather for the day. I dress according to the forecast. Today the forecast is 99 degrees and sunny. I am dressing in the coolest clothes I have that still offer maximum sun protection. I then check my Corps of Engineers Little Rock app to determine what the flows will be. That helps me decide where to fish that day. I then check on the current generation on the same app to ensure that the Corps is doing what they said they were.
“I head out to the guest house, where I keep all of the supplies for my shore lunch. I load the stuff that requires refrigeration into my Yeti cooler. The rest along with paper plates, napkins and a table cloth goes into a tote. While I am there, I feed the three feral cats we have adopted. I put the lunch into my Suburban and then remove the cover from my boat. I grab my sunglasses and Yeti tumbler full of coffee and head out at about 7 a.m. to meet my clients. If I have time, I stop at McDonald’s for a quick breakfast.
“As soon as I reach the access I begin preparing my boat to launch. I remove the ratcheting tie-downs on the rear of the boat. I hook up my motor to the gas tank and pump gas into my motor with a squeeze bulb. I connect my launch rope to the boat and put my boat net and paddle in the boat.
“I am now ready to rig my client’s fly rods. My clients are using my rods; they are still rigged from the last trip. I inspect them and load them. If my clients are using their own rods, I take time to rig them. I generally put on a fresh leader, fresh tippets, flies lead and strike indicator. I launch the boat and begin fishing. I run the motor, keep the boat straight with a paddle (this is tough on a windy day like yesterday), net fish, change flies as needed and untangle fishing knots.
“At noon, I find a picnic table on the bank and in the shade. I put a table cloth on the picnic table and put lunch out. At the end of the meal, I put away any uneaten food, fold the table cloth and bag any trash. We return to the river and continue fishing. At the end of the day, I return to the access and trailer my boat. I put away my gear and secure the boat to the trailer. I drive home and cover my boat. If I have time, I tie flies before supper. I then start the process all over again.
“It is a busy life but I love it!”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 673.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl), a drop of 3 feet from last week and a steady fall from the lake’s high this summer near 690 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.59 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 8-19-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said that conditions are the same as they’ve been, though the lake continues to fall: Get up early for bass fishing and use topwater baits, poppers and Zara Spooks in the creeks. Look for shad-surfacing action. Use a buzzbait or Whopper Plopper to cover water if it’s cloudy. Once the topwater bite slows down, use a Beaver-style bait and a big worm on ledges and channel swing banks. With the lake on the fall, fish on the points in 15-25 feet deep. If it gets tough, use a drop-shot off the points, the bluffs and ledges in 20-35 feet depth. Shad are starting to group up a little better. Fish the conditions.
Check out Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake. The clarity is good, the lake has dropped to about 12 feet above normal pool level, and the surface temperature is about 86 degrees.

Norfork Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 561.95 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).

No reports.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 8-19-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 6.9 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 17.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water at night. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are all still high due to spring rains but have dropped substantially from their highs. Expect high levels of generation to continue for the next few weeks.
“The hopper bite is in full swing,” John says. “Bang the bank with a grasshopper. My favorite fly for this technique is a western pink lady in a size 8. Add a midge dropper to increase your catch.”
The Norfork is fishing moderately. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during recent flooding in the past few 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 says his current favorite combination is a San Juan worm with an egg dropper.
Dry Run Creek is fishing poorly. There was increased pressure with school out, but that should ease up with school resuming. Weekends will still be busy. 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 North Fork 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 8-19-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. 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.