Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 13, 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 14, 2021.

White River

(updated 10-14-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said trout fishing near Cotter on the clear, cold White River in the beautiful Arkansas Ozarks proved to be spectacular this week. Generation from Bull Shoals Dam has been low during the day, with slight increases in the late afternoon. Lake level is 3 feet below power pool now (the established goal for the lake level), sitting at 656 feet msl. These water releases are friendlier to wade fishers and still navigable for the jon boats, but the channels are narrower, which calls for a return to our longtime river etiquette: more patience and an understanding of other anglers needs. Bank anglers are enjoying the easier access, too.
Anglers this week showed us once again that we can hook a trout with any of a number of baits -- spoons, Smithwick Rogues (yellow bellies), sculpins or minnows, sowbugs and jigs, spinnerbaits and egg patterns with shrimp. What worked best this week? Our recommendation is the three-sixteenth-ounce blue-sliver Thomas Buoyant cast toward the bank, then using a slow and steady retrieval.
The German Brown bite continues to be slower than we'd like, but don't be surprised if you attract one or two with shrimp and PowerBait. The annual spawn is heating up, so be careful and gentle when returning the females to the river. We have seen fewer browns and cutthroats during the last week, but those we've been able to bring to the boat have taken sculpins rather than stick baits. Try a peach/olive marabou jig on overcast days to change up your fishing technique and keep the interest high.
“The days have been weather-perfect. We're finally feeling some autumn in the air, especially early mornings, but the days warm up nicely and you'll have to look long and hard to find a more beautiful place to visit. Come see for yourself. We look forward to seeing you on the river!”

 

(updated 10-14-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they have had two rain events (totaling about an inch and a half inch in Cotter), cooler temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1 foot to rest at 2.6 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 38.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 1.8 feet below power pool and 15.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool or 11.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 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. There has been 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 the White has 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,” he said.
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.

 

(updated 10-14-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) had no new report this week. The river continues to run mostly low. Rainbow trout fishing overall has been good. Just 2-4 generators are running at the dam on average. PowerBait, pink worms, stick bait, Rooster Tails in light green or brown, worms and shrimp all will get a good response from the trout.

 

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 10-14-2021) 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 73 degrees. He says bass fishing fallen off slightly to fair. “Shad are moving up and so are the fish,” he said. Get up early for the topwater bite using poppers and Zara Spooks one-half to three-quarters of the way 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 10-14-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 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. There has been wadable water on a daily basis.

There has been wadable water on the Norfork and it fished well some days and poorly on others. 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.
John also said, “Last week I got a call from Kevin. He is a friend and client that I have guided several times over the years. Over 10 years ago I taught his son, David, to fly-fish on Dry Run Creek. He landed a 16-pound brown on his first day of fly-fishing. They wanted to have my wife, Lori, teach LuAnn, David’s girlfriend, how to fly fish. I told them that Lori had a broken arm (a dog walking accident) and would be unable to do it. I told them I would do it.
“We scheduled a wade trip on the North Fork River. When we arrived, the water was on the bottom. It was cool and threatening to rain. I told Kevin and David that I would take LuAnn upstream into the catch-and-release section. They decided to fish near the access so they would not interfere with our class. I told her that my goal for the day was for her to catch more trout than the guys. She told me that her goal was to catch a bigger fish than them.

“LuAnn, a former serious soccer player, is young, tall and fit. The wading was easy for her. The weather was also no problem. When it began raining, she continued fishing and did not pull up the hood on her rain jacket to keep her hair dry. We began with a brief casting class. She picked it up quickly. She was a natural.
“We started fishing with a Woolly Bugger but that just did not work. I switched over to a nymph rig, a pheasant tail with a ruby midge dropper. I worked on her presentation and she was soon into a nice 16-inch rainbow. The next trout was truly spectacular. It was a fat 13-inch brook trout. For a brookie, this is huge. It gave her a good fight but finally surrendered to the net. We caught another three trout with the nymph rig. It was time to learn a new technique.

“I took off the nymph rig and tied on a partridge and orange soft hackle. I taught her how to fish it and worked on improving her cast. We were rewarded with four nice trout. By this time it was time to walk back to the access and see how the others did.

They had each caught one small trout each. She had out-fished both of them on her first day fly-fishing both in numbers and size. They were in awe of her. They were especially impressed with the brook trout. It had been a great day of fishing and she had done extremely well.

“Was this beginners luck? I don’t think so. LuAnn is a natural.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-14-2021) 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.