Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 20, 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 21, 2021.

White River
(updated 10-21-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the tailwaters for Bull Shoals Lake have dropped to 4 feet below power pool; the lake currently is sitting at 655.20 feet msl. The brown trout bite is getting tricky; more patience is required to get their attention; soft shell crawdads are a favorite. Consistent water levels have allowed the trout to settle down into a normal feeding routine, so early morning and early evening are the best times for easy catches. If fishing within a few miles of the dam down through the Wildcat Shoals area, tie on a bright green jig or try a blue/silver Smithwick with a touch of orange on its belly.
Nearer to Cotter, the rainbow catch has been exceptional. Bubblegum pink eggs (Berkley or XFactor), in conjunction with shrimp, will pick up the pace as will a live and kickin' red wiggler. Keep your midges tied on if you're casting flies: ruby midges and others (red/silver, black/silver), and copper Johns were a hit over the last week or two. Egg patterns, peach or soft yellow, tied to a No.10 or 12 hook, have also served well.
“October has brought a lot of anglers to the Arkansas Ozarks and our natural resources remain strong, with AGFC's trout management program working alongside. The rainbows have been healthy and brightly colored ... and growing! Join us. The river will capture your heart.”

(updated 10-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they have had several rain events (combined for about 2 inches in Cotter), cooler temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1 foot to rest at 3.6 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 39.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at at 1.6 feet below power pool and 15.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1.5 feet below power pool or 11.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 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 and there is wadable water on a daily basis.
On the White, the hot spot has been Bull Shoals State Park. 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,” he said.
John also said, “I got an email from Mary Nell. She wanted me to take her and three friends on a guided fly-fishing trip. They were all retired professionals. I had guided her previously and looked forward to the trip. With four anglers, I would need another guide to help me. I gave Danny Barker a call and fortunately he was available. We met them at their chosen lodge, River Ridge Inn.
“Mary Nell and Lynn are experienced anglers, but Leila and Jan were first-timers. It was best to put an experienced angler and novice in each boat so that the guide could concentrate on the novice angler. We decided that I would take Mary Nell and Leila on the first day and fish at Rim Shoals. Danny took Lynn and Jan to Buffalo Shoals. On the second day, we would swap around. That way the ladies would get to see more locations on the river and get to fish, with two different guides.
“I drove to Rim Shoals. It was a cool start but promised to get warm in the afternoon. The water was fairly low with about 3,000 cfs or less than one full generator. I began with a short casting lesson for Leila. She picked it up quickly. I then rigged a couple of fly rods. I used a size 14 pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper. We motored upstream and began fishing. We were into trout almost immediately.
“The fishing was really good. Mary Nell is an accomplished angler and caught several nice trout on the first drift. Leila picked it up quickly and soon had several trout to the net. At noon we broke for lunch and rested for a few minutes. We were all eager to return to the river. Usually the fishing slows a bit in the afternoon. On this day, the catch was good even later in the day. We finished with about 35 trout. We returned to the lodge.
“The next day we started early. On this day I had Lynn and Jan. The conditions were similar to the previous day. I began with the same flies. The catch was not as good. I tried all of the usual spots, but the fish were not biting as well as they had on the day before. Danny motored up from Buffalo Shoals to meet us for lunch. His day had been a bit slower, also. We discussed flies, and on his suggestion I changed out the pheasant tail nymph for an egg pattern.
“We returned to the river and caught a few but it was still slow. We finished the day with a dozen trout.
“Some days are just better than others. The ladies did not mind. They just loved to be on the river. The trout were a bonus.”

(updated 10-21-2021) Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) said nothing much has changed in a while. 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 655.21 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 915.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 10-21-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday morning that bass fishing has been fair. The lake level is normal and clarity is good. Surface water temperature is down to 70 degrees. He says the lake is in its fall transition to junk fishing. “Shad are moving up and so are the fish,” he said. Get up early using topwaters, poppers and Zara Spooks one-half to three-quarters of the way into the shallow creeks, and look for wind and shad-surfacing action, as well as the birds. Use Chatterbaits, buzzbaits 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 sunne use a shaky head on ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. Rock Crawler, square bill or Wiggle Wart is good on windy transitions. Shad are starting to group up a little better, but they are spread out and moving into the creeks. Fish the conditions.
See 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 553.11 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 10-21-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said he bite for all species on Norfork Lake continues to improve as the lake temperature drops. This morning the lake temp was about 72.5 degrees. Currently the largemouth bass bite has been best for me. You can find this species in several different areas. My best location is in 28 to 36 feet of water, on the outside edge of large shallow flats. The fish are schooling and when you find the school you can catch multiple fish in the same area, as they are in a feeding frenzy. My preferred method to catch them is to vertical jig with a ½ to 1 ounce spoon. They seem to hit the spoon on the fall or when it hits the bottom. Be ready to set the hook. The other location is up shallow either on the shallow shore lines or up close to the deep bluff lines. The best bite for these shallow fish is either right after sunrise or before sunset. Shallow diving crank baits long plastic worms have been working the bests. Spinner baits and buzz baits are working on the windy days.
Walleye are still biting, but seemed to have scattered out a bit. I am still catching a few on the bottom in 30 feet of water on main lake points or along a shallow shoreline. I am catching this species by vertical jigging a spoon or by trolling a #7 Berkley Flicker Minnow. Either way you need to get the bait down to the 30-foot depth.
Striped bass fishing is starting to pick up. These fish are beginning to feed heavily again after a long hot summer. They are showing up in several different types of areas and at different times of day. I am finding them scattered out feeding along side of the largemouth bass, either after sunrise or before sunset. If it is a cloudy, windy day, it seems like you can find them all day long. I will find small schools cruising along the bottom feeding on shad. My 1-ounce spoon has picked up some nice fish. Hang on as they are getting energetic. If you are an in the dark type of fisherperson, this species is starting to feed after sunset and all night long. Several of our guests are having good success trolling crankbaits that dive about 16 feet. They are trolling on large flats but trying to stay in 20 to 35 feet of water. The best times have been about 2 or 3 hours after sunset. This morning I caught a nice striped bass before sunrise trolling a # 7 flicker minnow. This bait dives about 13 to 15 feet. I caught one and missed another in about 20 feet of water off of a shallow sandy shoreline. Another area where striped bass are showing up is back in the major creeks. Look at very shallow water early in the mornings, then out in a little deeper water as the sun gets high in the sky.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature was slightly less than 73 degrees this morning. The lake has become fairly stable with just a very slight drop and currently sits at 553.15 feet msl. It is lightly stained from the mid-lake area and heading north. The lake is currently in its slow progression to a lake turnover. The water temperature is the same down to 50 feet with great oxygen. The water temp cools off below 50 feet and the oxygen level basically is non-existent below this level.
Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 10-21-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 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 and there is wadable water on a daily basis.
There has been wadable water on the Norfork tailwater 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.
Remember that the White and Norfork 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-21-2021) 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.