Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 29, 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 30, 2021.

White River
(updated 9-30-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We’re starting to see some nip in the air – autumn's finally popping out. Cool mornings, warm days, perfect weather for float fishing on the White for trout. Bull Shoals Lake is below power pool now, so generation has been mostly low, less than a unit (under 3,300 cfs) during the day, with increased releases in late afternoon for 5-6 hours.
“The rainbow catch has been fabulous: They're snapping up the shrimp and egg combo, and we’re continuing to see success with X-Factor bubblegum pink worms and mousetails – good sizes among the catch, too; there were several rainbows measured at 16 inches or above.
“Keep a variety of live bait on board for the browns. Sculpins, red fin minnows and crawdad tails will work well. Baits should be kept close to the bottom and to the sides of the main channel. Stick baits and spinners saw lots of action this past week. Find a rainbow-colored bait (a Cleo or Buoyant spoon or a smaller Rapala in size 5 or 7. With the water still running about one unit during most of the day, smaller gold and nickel Colorados have been doing well off the riverbank. Just for grins, try jig fishing in the deeper holes with olive or orange jigs; fun and often victorious.
“Come out and spend some time with us on the river!”

(updated 9-30-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had about a half-inch of rain, cooler and then warm temperatures, and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.2 feet to rest at 2.4 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 36.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at 1.6 feet below power pool and 15.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 1.6feet below power pool or 10.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 0.3 foot above power pool of 555.8 feet msl and 25.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. Expect wadable water on a daily basis.
On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. On the low water, the bite was excellent! The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise).
Some anglers have been fishing large streamers on the heavy afternoon flows we have been getting and having success. This requires heavy sink tip lines (250 grain), heavy rods (8 weights or better) and advanced casting skills. The hot flies have been large articulated streamers in various colors.
“Hopper season is on the wane,” he says. “These are tempting morsels for large trout. You need a stiff 6 weight rod and a 7.5-foot 4X leader. My favorite hopper patterns are the western-style foam hoppers with rubber legs and a bright quick sight patch on the back. Dave’s Hoppers are also a good choice, but be sure to dress them with plenty of fly floatant to ensure that they ride high. A small nymph dropper can increase your takes. It is not uncommon to take more trout on the dropper. My favorite dropper flies are bead-head pheasant tails or zebra midges.”

(updated 9-30-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said rainbow trout fishing overall is good. The river remains low with 2-4 generators running at the dam. PowerBait, pink worms, stick bait, Rooster Tails in light green or brown, worms and shrimp all will provide a good response.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 657.91 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.27 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 9-23-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level had dropped to just barely above normal (6 inches). The clarity is good and surface water temperature is down to 79 degrees. He says bass fishing has been good. “Get up early for topwater, popper and Zara Spooks in the creeks shallow, and look for wind/shad-surfacing action. Use Chatterbait and buzzbait or Whopper Plopper, covering water if it’s cloudy. Once the topwater bite slows down, use a jig or Beaver-style bait and a big worm. Also use a shaky head for ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. On transitions with water cropping, fish on the secondary points in 10-20 feet depth. If it gets tough, use a drop-shot off the points, bluffs and ledges in 26-24 feet depth.
“Shad are starting to group up a little better, but they are spread out and moving. Fish the conditions.”
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 553.77 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 9-16-2021) Steve “Scuba” Street from Blackburns Resort and Boat Rental reported earlier this week the lake level was 555.92 feet msl and had dropped 1 inch in the 24 hours with 1½ generators running about one-third of the time during the day. The White River at Newport is now at 6 feet and about ready to dry up. The power pool is 555.75 feet msl and they seem to always slow generation as this approaches.
The lake overall is in excellent condition for boating and fishing and the weather has been great, except that we are getting very dry. Walleye fishing has slowed a bit, especially the big ones. They were at 30-32 feet of water on brush near the bottom, but the big ones are mostly gone and left the throwbacks. I have not looked for them again yet.
Crappie, bass, bluegill and catfish are the best bite now and are all hitting jigging spoons. “I have had better luck the last few days with downsizing the spoon to one-eighth ounce and lowering the line strength to 4 pounds and fishing a little deeper brush in the 32-35 feet range. Several varieties of fish are there. Trollers are catching a few temperate bass, but they are mostly small. There is a topwater bite early and late partway back in the creeks just outside brushpiles, but they are mostly small bass. Some bigger largemouth are being caught where earlier most were Kentucky bass. The tournament anglers are winning with about 16 pounds per day with a big bass of about 4 pounds. Crappie are nice-sized and about 11-12 inches and are on top of cover and hitting the spoon on the way down. I am catching no throwbacks. Bluegill are under docks and biting crickets.” For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

(updated 9-30-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake is trying to cool off and by each degree drop the fish become more active. I am really looking forward to a little cooler air temperature, as well as, water temperature, which will bring on the fall fishing season. It appears that Norfork Lake is trying to transition and the thermocline, or at least the good oxygenated water is starting to drop. The good water has dropped to below 40 feet and the fish are already making this deeper water their home in the slightly cooler water. I have caught walleye, bass and catfish in 40 feet of water over the last week. Live thread fin shad is surviving at this water depth, if you are a live bait angler.
“I have switched to targeting crappie over the last week instead of walleye which I had been targeting since mid-August. The crappie bite has been excellent most days, on brush piles anywhere from 24 feet to 35 feet deep. The best areas I have found are on the main lake and not back in the creeks. The best brush comes up to 15 to 20 feet and the fish I have found are anywhere from 10 feet down to 25 feet deep over and in the brush. I have mainly been using a small ¼ ounce spoon and vertical jigging it up and down over the brush. I continually change how I am jigging from slow twitches, to quick jerks or a slow 5-foot raise and then letting the jig flutter down again. The slow twitches have worked the best, but most of my fish are sucking in the spoon as it falls slowly. Watch for slack line on the fall, you will more than likely have a fish and you need to set the hook quickly. I have had 2 excellent days of crappie fishing over the last 3 days. Yesterday (9/28) I could not beg a crappie bite, but the spotted bass bite made up for it. Today (9/29) was outstanding. I landed over 2 limits of keeper size fish. The crappie size that I have been landing have mainly been in the 10 to 11 inch range with very few short fish. I did land a nice 14¾- and 13-inch crappie this morning. Hopefully this means the big slabs are finally starting to move into the brush. I have been catching and releasing with only keeping the fish that get gut hooked or the treble hook has damaged their gills. These fish will not swim away, so it’s fish sandwiches for lunch. Live bait is also working very well. Set your bait at about 15-20 feet and drift slowly over the brush. A little split shot should be used about 2 or 3 feet above the bait. If you like using a bobber, first mark the brush pile with a floating marker attached to a heavy weight. Cast your bobber (using a slip float is the best) over the brush and wait for the float to disappear.
Walleye fishing is still very good. I had been catching walleye in 30 to 32 feet of water, but when the oxygen level dropped down to 40 feet the walleye migrated to that depth. I was fishing on large rounded points that tended to have a large flat on one side of the point. I was using 2 methods of fishing to catch this species. I was vertical jigging a ½ ounce spoon touching the bottom each time I jigged the spoon up. I used this method in the dark until sunrise. At sunrise, I switched to slow trolling with my trolling motor using size 7 Berkley Flicker Minnows. To get my bait down to 30 feet I added a 1 ounce weight 50 feet from the bait then let out another 50 feet of line. To get my bait down to 40 feet I had to add a 2 ounce weight. White colors were working the best as of late. I try to keep my speed at 1.2 to 1.4 MPH. I suspect the walleye bite will be the same until the lake turnover. Once the lake turnover happens, the fish will move to all depths, while still keying in on their food source. Find the bait you will find the fish.
The bass bite continues to be very good. The best places I have found have a lot of bait in the area. The largemouth bass have been feeding up tight to the shore line (I mean tight) and then move back in to 15 to 20 feet of water when the sun gets high in the sky. I have also found a few nice sized largemouth hugging the bottom out in 32 to 40 feet of water. These fish are still relating to the colder water as their coloration is a light green, but the shallower fish are a dark green. The spotted bass are relating to brush piles or areas that have bait in 28 to 32 feet of water. Yesterday when the crappie did not want to bite, I found schools of spots feeding on the bottom. I must have vertical jigged up 20 spots in the 12 to 14 inch range with a ½ ounce spoon. It was a blast. Largemouth are coming up for poppers and shallow running crank baits early in the morning. Deeper diving crank baits are working when the fish go a little deeper. Windy days go to the wind-blown banks and throw spinners or chatter baits.
“The catfish bite has also been fairly good. You will find then on the bottom in or near brush, as well as out in deeper water chase bait fish. I have caught some nice size cats vertical jigging with a spoon, as well as on the Berkley Flicker Minnows while I have been trolling for walleye or fishing for crappie. Live bait is always a good choice in these types of areas.
“I have not started to look for striped bass since they scattered to the 4 winds mid-September. You will start to find this species partway back in the major creeks early in the morning especially if we get some more cold early morning temps. Stripers will be feeding in shallow water in the early mornings back in the creeks. As the day wears on they tend to move out to deeper cooler water. This is very normal for this time of year until the lake totally turnovers with the water temperature being more constant in the 70 or less degree range.
“The surface lake temperature is ranging from 78 to 81 degrees depending on time of day. The lake level is slowly dropping and currently sits at 553.85 feet msl. The main lake is clear to slightly stained and the creeks and coves are slightly stained.
“If you are looking for a daily fishing activity report, go the Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page. I post almost daily what is being caught on the lake either by me or some of my guests.
“Happy fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 9-30-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 0.3 foot above power pool of 555.8 feet msl and 25.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The tailwater had wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. Expect wadable water on a daily basis.
There has been wadable water on the Norfork and it fished well. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Grasshoppers have produced fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished well. School is back in session and now is a great time to fish it, particularly during the week. Weekends can get a bit crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Carry a large net as most fish are lost at the net.
“My friend, Doug Berry, gave me a phone call a couple of weeks ago. We think that we are distantly related though we are not physically similar. He wanted to take his grandson, Paxton, fishing on Dry Run Creek. He had previously taken his two other grandsons there. He takes them individually in order to bond with him. They always enjoy the outing. He usually just brings the boys but this time he brought his son, Cole (Paxton’s father), with him.
“I picked them up at River Ridge Inn at 7:30 a.m. and we drove to Dry Run Creek. There were no other anglers there and we had the place to ourselves. Paxton and I donned waders. I always wear waders to assist me, in netting big trout. I like my young clients to wear them so that they can fish spots that cannot be effectively fished, from the bank. I have several spare sets of wading boots and waders that I frequently loan to clients, if they do not have their own waders.
“We began fishing and encountered the usual problems. Paxton had never fly-fished and it took a few minutes for him to get the hang of casting. By the end of the morning he was casting effortlessly. The other situation that we worked on was for him to set the hook quickly. This is another procedure that is challenging for any new fly-fisher. Here again he was quite proficient by mid-morning.
“He was quickly into a trout and then another. He was a natural when it came to fighting them. We kept moving from place to place, whenever the catch slowed. He had about 10 trout under his belt when he hooked a big brown. It was a male about 24-inches long. It took a while to get in and we took a photo and then carefully released the big fish.
“A few minutes later he hooked a really big rainbow. It actually gave us a better battle than the brown. It took several minutes before it finally surrendered to the net. While it was the same length, this trout was much stouter and had a much larger girth. Most of a trout’s weight is in its girth.
“At lunch we took a break and went back to River Ridge Inn and had lunch on the deck of their cabin. Paxton was interested in getting a souvenir of the trip, so I took everyone to the nearby Twin Rivers Fly Shop where he selected a nice fly box and a dozen flies. Dominic Zametto, the shop owner, also gave him a couple of shop stickers.
“We returned to the creek and continued fishing. We landed a nice 19-inch cutthroat, which gave us three of the required species for the grand slam. We needed a brook trout to complete the grand slam, but never caught one. We finished the day with over 30 trout, which included two trophies. It doesn’t get much better than that. Granddad was pleased.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 9-30-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and gin clear. Both are receiving a lot of pressure. With summer coming to an end, the smallmouths are still active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown 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.