Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 6, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report October 7, 2021.

White River
(updated 10-7-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Rainbow fishing has been excellent the past week. Lots of action from a few miles upriver of Cotter down to Crooked Creek. Bull Shoals Lake is over 2 feet below power pool level now, so generation has been around a unit (about 3,300 cfs) during the day, with higher releases coming in the late afternoon, usually around 4-5 units (12,000-16,000 cfs). Bubblegum Pink or bright yellow baits, especially under overcast skies, have been working well. Using shrimp and crawdad tails added to the size of the rainbows caught. If you fish artificial, the rainbow trout lookalikes have been helpful in getting a good bite from the browns this week as well as live sculpin and soft shell crawdads. Standard zebra midges attracted some attention and flashy olive-green or brown Woolly Buggers called several rainbows to the boat.
“The lower water level still allows experienced guides and other fishing boat operators to access their favorite fishing holes and also allows for even better viewing of the river bottom and your trout. Be generous to your fellow anglers on the river: Waders, allow boaters to move down the channel safely (that's the only way to get past you and out of your way); boaters, stay clear of lines already in the water and be patient while waders make a clear path for you. Keep anglin' and we'll see you on the river.”

(updated 10-7-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had about a half-inch of rainfall in Cotter, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.2 feet to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 37.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 1.7 feet below power pool and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 1.1 feet below power pool or 10.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water every day.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. 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 Rim 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 flows we have been getting later in the day and having success. This requires heavy sink tip lines (250 grain), heavy rods (8-weight or better) and advanced casting skills. The hot flies have been large articulated streamers in various colors.
“Hopper season is on the wane. 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.”
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. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John also said, “A couple of weeks ago, I had a guide trip on lower water. As you know, we have had no less than three years of constantly high water, with precious few days with lower flows. To say it was a pleasant change of pace is an understatement.
“My client, Jack, lives outside of Kansas City and is an avid fly-fisher. He fishes for numerous species, like bass, pike, walleye, salmon and trout. His travels take him all over to include all of the big rivers out west and Canada. Of course, the White is among his favorites. On this trip, he came with a bunch of fishing buddies. I was lucky enough to have him in my boat for a day.
“We began early. We met at the Rim Shoals ramp. We were to start at 7:30 a.m. I got there 20 minutes early and he was waiting for me. I had a rod ready to go (I put on a size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge) and quickly prepared to boat to launch. We were on the water before our agreed upon start time. There was no one else in the parking lot, when we left the ramp.
“The weather was near perfect. It was overcast with light wind. The high was to be 84 degrees and there was a dense fog on the river. It was a cool start and I wore a fleece jacket until almost 11 a.m. The flows were about 2,000 cfs. Minimum flow is 700 cfs, so this is not a lot of water. There is some marginal wading at these flows. One of the positives with this flow is that we can use shorter leaders and much lighter weight, which makes the casting much easier. The other positive is that with water this low, the trout are more concentrated.
“We began our first drift, and a few yards downstream we picked up our first trout. A few yards further we picked up another and then another. We had a limit on the first drift. We continued fishing and we landed three or four trout on each drift. We continued this action all morning. It was one of the most productive days that I had ever had fly-fishing. When we stopped for lunch, we had brought over 50 trout to the net.
“We had a pleasant lunch on a picnic table under dense shade close to the river. We were amazed that more anglers were not on the river. After lunch, we returned to the river. It was quickly apparent that the afternoon would not equal the morning. The bite had definitely slowed. We caught enough to keep our mind in the game, but it was nothing like it had been early. My client ended the day with more trout than he had ever landed.
“Life is good!”

(updated 10-7-2021) 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 on average. 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 656.97 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.29 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 10-7-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level is normal and clarity is good. Surface water temperature is down to 75 degrees. He says bass fishing has been good. “Shad are moving up and so are the fish.” Strike out early for topwater bite using poppers and Zara Spooks one-half to three-quarters of the way up up in the shallow creeks, and look for wind and shad-surfacing action, as well as the birds. Bass are also good on Chatterbait, buzzbait or a Whopper Plopper covering water if it’s cloudy.
Once the topwater bite slows down, use a Peewee jig or Beaver-style bait on shallow ledges and laydowns, and if it’s sunny use shaky head worm on ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. Transitions with water stabilizing, 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 24-34 feet depth. Shad are starting to group up a little better, but they are spread out and moving into the creeks. 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 553.54 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 10-7-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake has been a lot of fun fishing during the last week. “Nothing has really changed much since my report last week except that the lake surface temperature has dropped another degree. The best bites on the lake have been for crappie, other panfish, largemouth and spotted bass, and walleye. The striped bass are still scattered out all over the lake, making it very difficult to come up with any pattern.
Crappie fishing has been really good. You will find this species on brush in 24 feet of water out to 40 feet of water. They can be at any depth over the brush. The last couple of days, I have been catching some nice slabs 30 feet down over 40 feet deep brush. The best bait for catching large numbers of fish is live crappie minnows. Find the depth of the fish and slowly drift over the brush and hang on. Small eighth- to quarter-ounce spoons have been my choice of bait and I have been vertical-jigging the spoon over the tops of the brush. A few days ago, I could only get a bite if the spoon touched the brush and as soon as the spoon hit the brush a crappie attacked it. Small curly tail or paddle tail grubs are also working and sometimes tipping the grub with a small live minnow gets the fish a little more aggressive. I have mainly been catching white crappie on the brush with only getting a few small black crappie. This morning I started fishing a few 40-feet-deep brushpiles and only found a few crappie. I then started trolling a No. 7 Berkley Flicker Minnow on a shallow shoreline with many small cuts and points. I was getting my bait down to about 30 feet and was staying in 30-38 feet of water. I only made two passes of this shoreline and landed three nice 14-inch black crappie. It appears the big slab black crappie are still scattered out, but they will move into the big brushpiles shortly.
Bass fishing has also been very good. This species is mainly being caught in very shallow water, but can also be found out in deeper water. Texas-rigged long dark-colored artificial worms have been working the best. Pitch the worm up to a shoreline that still has sunken brush. The largemouth seem to be hiding next to the brush, then come out to ambush the worm as it passes by. Other baits working in the very shallow water are square bill crankbaits, spinners and Chatterbaits. Some topwater baits are also triggering bites on occasion. Two days ago, I was scanning a large flat that had some brush out in 40 feet of water. When I got into about 28 feet of water, I started to mark large schools of fish. I dropped a three-quarter-ounce white spoon and immediately the bait got hammered as it hit the bottom. It was a nice 17-inch largemouth. For the next 45 minutes I got to land many nice largemouth bass. The fish were spitting up very small threadfin shad and crawdads. This type of largemouth schooling in a feeding frenzy out in deeper water has been historically common this time of year. They do seem to move around, but when you happen to find them, you will have a blast.
Walleye can also be found feeding very close to the shoreline out to 40 feet of water. The depth they can be found in seems to change daily so it does take some graphing to find them. It appears for me that 30 feet deep on the bottom has been the best depth. My best method to catch walleye is trolling a No. 7 or a No. 9 Berkley Flicker Minnow. You need to get the bait down to 30 feet, so either use a downrigger, lead core line or an inline weight. Each method is a learning process.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature was slightly less than 77 degrees. The lake has become fairly stable with just a very slight drop. We are currently at normal seasonal pool. The lake is slightly stained from the mid-lake area and heading north.“Happy fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake!”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 10-7-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had wadable water every day.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-7-2021) 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.