Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 8, 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 9, 2021.

White River

(updated 9-9-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525), channeling an old classic, said, “Try to remember the kind of September ... The month of September is a good time to make new memories to sing about later (or crow about, depending on how successful the fishing is.) The best baits to be a successful trout-catcher this week were X-Factor scented worms, fluorescent orange or shrimp pink.
“Bull Shoals Lake is now 3 feet above power pool and dropping; generation from the dam is averaging around three units all day until a late afternoon rise. This may be the last good opportunity for experimenting with your larger Rogues and stick baits (orange bellies) as we expect generation to decrease in the next week or so. The browns are still biting at sculpins and soft-shell crawdads (keep the Rebel Wee Craw handy).

“The Natural State has everything to offer the trout angler: clear, cold water; mellow weather; lots of river to spread out in; a great trout program maintained by our Game and Fish Commission; and a whole lot of Southern hospitality and friendly smiles to welcome you. Come see for yourself.”

(updated 9-9-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said rainbow trout are doing well and are big in size in the catches this week. Tuesday, they say, over 100 fish were caught by anglers. The river level remains high and the Corps of Engineers is generating with 7-8 generators running at Bull Shoals. The overall trout bite is good. PowerBait is suggested, along with pink worms, stick baits, Rooster Tails in light green and brown, worms and shrimp.

 

(updated 9-9-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a rain event with over a half of an inch in Cotter, hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 4.3 feet to land at 3.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 30.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.9 foot below seasonal power pool and 14.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 0.4 foot below seasonal power pool and 9 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 1.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 23.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had some wadable water at night.
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. All of the lakes will be below seasonable power pool in a week. Expect much lower water next week.
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 eight. Add a midge dropper to increase your catch.
“With higher flows, the fishing has slowed a bit. 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 (my current favorite combination is a San Juan Worm with a girdle bug dropper).”

John also said, “I was riding back from a dog show in Topeka, Kansas (my big, black, male Labrador Retriever, Ghillie, had a big win; my wife, Lori, was driving and I checked the water levels on my iPhone. I noticed that they had turned off the water at Bull Shoals and Norfork dams. I decided to monitor it closely and see if I could take advantage of the low water the next day and get in a little fishing. I asked Lori if she was interested in fishing and she said that she was worn out from the trip and would pass.
“I got up at 5 a.m. the next morning and checked the water flows. It was still down and I quickly hit the shower and prepared to go fishing. I loaded my boat and headed for the river. There was a dense fog and it was about 72 degrees. It promised to be a nice sunny day. My rods were still rigged for very deep water. I rerigged one with a flashback pheasant tail nymph and a ruby midge dropper. I added a small split shot and a strike indicator. I set the depth at around 4.5 feet, my usual depth for low water.
“I motored upstream and took a good look at the water. Not only was it gin clear, but it was lower than I had seen it in years. I slowed down and slid over a rock or two before I realized that the water level was below minimum flow. It was on the absolute bottom. It was quickly apparent to me that I should have brought my waders in lieu of my boat. Since minimum flow was started, I have been fishing more from the boat. On this day the river was so low that wading would be more effective.
“I was not going to let the low water stop me. I carefully set up my drifts and began fishing. I quickly hung up my fly and decided to adjust my strike indicator for lower water. That did the trick and the ruby midge began producing. I didn’t count but I caught plenty of trout. The largest was a fat 18-inch rainbow.
“I heard about another guide who canceled his trip on that day. He had only been guiding for a couple of years. We have had high water for three years and he had never fished low water here and did not know what to do. I guess that he did not want to mess up that nice new boat and he probably did not own a pair of waders. Unfortunately his client missed a great day of fishing.
“Fishing here is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get. I saw an opportunity to fish some deliciously low water and took it. The trick is to be flexible.”

 

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 663.31 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 9-9-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level had dropped to 4.9 feet above normal and is still dropping. The clarity is good and surface water temperature is down to 84 degrees. 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 556.51 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 9-9-2021) Steve “Scuba” Street from Blackburns Resort and Boat Rental reported the lake level is 557.16 and as of Labor Day had dropped 3-plus inches in the last 24-hours with 1½ generators running most of the time. It is taking about four days to drop a foot. The surface water temperature is 86 degrees and the main lake is clear from the surface but cloudy down to the 30-plus-feet thermocline. The creeks are stained just a bit but are a good color for fishing. Get out early, at about 6:30 a.m., and fish until about 10 a.m. on main lake points in 32-35 feet of water on brushpiles. Use a three-eighth-ounce jigging spoon and tap bottom. The walleye are on the edge of the brush near the bottom and the crappie and bass are suspended in the brush and hit the spoon on the drop. There are a few fish coming up back in the creeks in the evening but most are small bass. There are a lot of baitfish near the bank in the evening and can be caught on creature baits and worms. Trollers are catching a few stripers but they are small. The lake is churned up with the holiday boat traffic but will clear quickly and fishing will get better and better as we get into October. Walleye, bass, crappie and bluegill are the best bite with a few catfish thrown in. For a daily lake condition and fishing report go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's blog.

 

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 9-9-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 1.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 23.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had some wadable water at night.
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. All of the lakes will be below seasonable power pool in a week. Expect much lower water next week.
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 eight. 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 over the past couple of 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. The heavy pressure it received when school was out should be relieved now that school in back in session. Fish early or late to avoid the weekend 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. 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 9-9-2021) 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.