Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 1, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report September 2, 2021.

White River
(updated 9-2-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is nearing desired power pool while moderate generation continues. White River levels are in the mid- to high range, but expect that to decrease in a few weeks. Opening week of school always bring a little slowdown on the river and this past week was no exception; less pressure on the river, a time to catch our breath before the autumn rush begins and the opportunity to welcome cooler temperatures. The morning temperatures have been blessedly cool -- low 70s, blue skies -- ushering in warmer afternoon temps. Maybe a little too warm for some, but the river is cold and clear.
“Our anglers have been nabbing lots of 12- to 13-inch rainbows, best if you decide to keep any and absolutely perfect for lots of action and making forever memories. Shrimp and PowerBait are a must in your bait bucket, but many guides say you can't beat the real thing, and they pack in live crawdads for their days on the river. Deeper water in the afternoon means more drift-fishing with limited wading opportunities but the trout love lots of water and bubbles. Look for structures on the riverbed that create oxygen (bubbly waters) and you'll find a hangout for trout.
“We've had some ups and downs this week. The brown bite has slowed some but it's still pretty spectacular for this time of year. They've shown up for sculpins, minnows, crawdads, shad and even the pink mousetail worms-- not always trophy size, but healthy, fighting browns that make your heart race while you're waiting to see just how big that fish is on the end of your line. Stay cool and keep fishing!”

(updated 9-2-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said no one has been out fishing all week, but they expect the fishing should pick up this weekend. The Corps of Engineers at the dam has “turned the generators all the way off because they were looking for a missing kayaker” who reported drowned. With the generators being off, they say, it “killed a bunch of fish and messed up the flow.”
The river remains high at 30 feet with the generators are running round-the-clock. When the fishing was going good last week for both browns and rainbow trout, anglers were using PowerBait, pink worms, stick bait, Yakima Vibric Rooster Tails in light green or brown, worms and shrimp.

(updated 9-2-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a minor rain event (a quarter of an inch in Cotter), hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.8 feet to land at 7.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 26.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.3 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool and 8.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had an unexpected 18-hour period of wadable water with no generation.
Norfork Lake fell 1.8 feet to rest at 3.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 21 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water at night and a few hours of wadable water this past weekend during daylight.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are either at, below or nearly at power pool. Expect high levels of generation for the next couple of weeks at Norfork and Bull Shoals dams.
John says, “The hopper bite is a bit slower but there are still some good days. 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.”
He adds that with higher flows, the fishing on the White has slowed a bit. The outrider was the brief period of very low water last weekend that fished well. 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 offered this tip for fly-fishing when the preferred bait falls short, “There are many techniques to catch trout on a fly rod. You can fish nymphs, dry flies, streamers, wet flies, soft hackles and terrestrials to name a few. There is one constant, with all of them: Nothing works all of the time. There will be times when each of these techniques will produce trout with ease and there will be times where you could not buy a fish with them.
“One thing that many fly-fishers do is to choose a particular technique before they go fishing. We all have our favorite method to fish. I personally would rather fish a dry fly. There is something about a good fish taking a dry fly from the surface that flips my switch.
“My brother, Dan, would fish a size 32 dry fly (the smallest hook made) on a 70-foot cast. I always asked, ‘How can you see the fly to fish it?’ He answered that he could not see the fly but set the hook whenever he saw a rise near where he thought the fly was. Despite him being a more talented angler than I was, I usually out-fished him because I would fish whatever was the most effective technique in the situation.
“Last Saturday I took Kenny and John fishing. They wanted to fish grasshoppers. That was OK with me as I enjoy fishing them. A grasshopper is a bacon cheeseburger to a trout. It is a large, easy-to-see dry fly that draws big fish and vicious takes. My wife, Lori, complained that grasshoppers had demolished her parsley. I thought that bode well for our plans.
“We got to the ramp early. It was slightly cool with much warmer weather and rain scheduled for later in the day. We had a dense fog on the river. I quickly rigged their rods with a short leader (7 feet) and size 6 western pink lady grasshoppers. This is a big foam fly that floats well and does not have to be dressed.
“I launched the boat, loaded everyone on board and headed upstream. I began drifting downstream close to the bank. Kenny and John banged the bank mercilessly. They were good casters and drifted cast after cast near the bank. We fished for several hours and covered miles of river (both banks) without a sniff from the fish. We were all disappointed. I ran into several other experienced guides who were all fishing hoppers. Everyone was fishless. The last one had clipped off the hoppers and was changing over to nymphs.
“We held a quick boat meeting and all agreed it was time to change technique. I removed the hoppers and added tippet, split shot, a girdle bug and a size 16 midge. We took a nice trout on the first drift and two on the next. We were finally back in the game. We continued fishing the nymphs and finished the day with several trout.
We wanted to fish grasshoppers but that was not to be. Nothing works every time!”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 667.21 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 9-2-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said conditions and results are like they’ve been for a few weeks. He continues to urge anglers to get up early and beat the heat 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 water dropping, fish on the points in 15-25 feet depth. 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. Clarity is good, the surface temperature is hanging around 86 degrees and the lake is falling and at a little over 6 feet high at last check. Check out Del’s YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.

Norfork Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 558.09 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl).

(updated 9-2-2021) Steve “Scuba” Street from Blackburns Resort and Boat Rental reported Tuesday that the lake level is 558.74 feet msl and has dropped 3½ inches in the last 24 hours with 1⅓ generators running continuously. “They took the White River at Newport down to 8 feet to try and keep the area lakes up as high as possible for as long as possible, but are bringing it back up now. It clouds up at the heat of the day about 3 p.m. every day but not much happens.
“We are still very dry here. It looks to be mostly sunny and warm for the rest of the week and good weather for the holiday weekend.
“The lake traffic will slow way down then and fishing will get better and the peace and quiet will get a lot better. This is an excellent time for a visit and the lake is in good condition. Get out that three-eighth-ounce spoon, white with red head, and drop it in and around brush piles in 30-35 feet of water. Several different species of fish are there and are being caught every day. I am too busy to get in much fishing, as I am sure most resort owners are, but get out for about an hour after the work is done and spoon for a bit and am catching fish every day. Mostly walleye, crappie, bass and bluegill with a few catfish thrown in. That is all I fish for anyway. Most all fish are released under my dock and the school is getting very big. I guess if I had more time for fishing I would not be doing my job very well. My time will come this fall and winter.
“I am ready for fall fishing. I do not look for a striper kill this September and sure hope there is not one. Come on down. We will not charge you too much.”

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 9-2-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.8 feet to rest at 3.2 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 21 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had some wadable water at night and a few hours of wadable water this past weekend during daylight.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are either at, below or nearly at power pool. Expect high levels of generation for the next couple of weeks at Norfork and Bull Shoals dams.
John says, “The hopper bite is a bit slower but there are still some good days. 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 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 says his current favorite combination is a San Juan worm with an egg dropper.
Dry Run Creek is fishing poorly. Weekdays are better with school in secession; fish early or late to avoid the crowds on weekends (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 9-2-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek remain 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.