Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 27, 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 28, 2021.

White River
(updated 10-28-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River below Bull Shoals Dam has seen the equivalent of one unit most of each day for the last week. “Bull Shoals Lake is 5 feet below power pool, so we expect the releases to remain low. Mother Nature is blessing us with nicely moderate temperatures and painting the trees in yellows, rust and reds; but early mornings are chilly enough to require a couple of layers in order to stay warm while catching all those trout.
“The rainbow fishing continues to be prolific with garlic-scented PowerBait luring in lots of trout for both the wade/bank anglers as well as the boaters. It's autumn – time to switch to orange, white and/or sunrise colors for your egg pattern flies or PowerBait. Try a light green/chartreuse Rooster Tail with a gold spoon in this low water and keep it just above the river bed vegetation; could mean running it just below the surface. White or pink marabou jigs are worth a shot to change up your fishing technique and keeps the interest high. Nightcrawlers and redworms will work especially well for the next couple of days because of the rain forecast.
“The annual spawn is heating up, so be gentle when returning the females to the river. You'll have to use shiny, flashy baits and lots of jiggle to get their attention during the spawning months: They'll snap at your bait only in an effort to make you leave them alone. We have seen fewer browns and cutthroats this past week, but those we've been able to bring to the boat have taken sculpins rather than stick baits.
“Come on over. Fall colors are popping up all around us and we've been treated to some perfect autumn days

(updated 10-28-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a rain events totaling just a trace in Cotter, cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.7 foot to rest at 4.3 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 40.3 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 remained steady 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 rose 0.1 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 most every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. We have wadable water on a daily basis.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed from Nov. 1, 2021, to Jan. 31, 2022, to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period. On Feb. 1, 2022, this section will open to fishing.
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
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 added, “We are having the best fishing conditions on the White and North Fork rivers that we have had in years. All of the lakes in the White River system are well below the top of power pool. We are receiving much lower flows. On the Norfork tailwater, we have had wadable water every day for weeks. On the White, we have had low flows in the morning (that are marginally wadable) with brief moderate flows in the afternoon. I have had several days of fishing the wadable water on the Norfork and have done well. Fishing on the lower flows from my boat has been spectacular. In addition, the weather has finally turned to fall with cool mornings and mild afternoon.
“The problem that I am having is that my absolute favorite fishing buddy, my wife, Lori, is out of commission. She broke her arm and is unable to fish, or guide for that matter. She was walking our big black male Labrador, Ghillie (100 pounds of solid muscle), when our black and white rescue cat, Spike, appeared. It was dark and Ghillie took him for a skunk (he had a previous encounter with a skunk that did not turn out well) and gave chase. Lori was pulled off her feet and drug briefly across the yard. She was hurt and a late night trip to the emergency room at Baxter Regional Medical Center confirmed that she had a broken arm.
“I have taken the responsibility for walking Ghillie twice a day. This occasionally interferes with my guide trips, and we have had to rely on friends and neighbors to assist when I am working. I have taken on more responsibilities that include helping Lori get dressed and doing her hair. I have developed a newfound respect for hairdressers. They earn every penny they are paid. Sadly, Lori now looks more like Chaka Khan than her usual self. I claim full responsibility.
“I now accompany her on her regular trips to Walmart. I push the cart and pick up any heavy or odd-shaped items. I have to pay for the groceries because she can’t carry her oversized purse. I have always carried in the groceries. I now have to assist putting away some bulky items.
“She is limited in her cooking. In fact, I have lost 6 pounds. That is not a bad thing. I have a few more pounds that I picked during the coronavirus pandemic that I would like to say goodbye to.
“She cannot drive, so I take her anywhere she needs to go. My Suburban and her soccer mom van are too difficult for her to get into, so we travel in her old Ford SUV. We go to the doctor tomorrow, so hopefully she will be healed and able to return to the river with me. It has all been much more inconvenient for her. I miss my fishing buddy.”

(updated 10-28-2021) 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 654.78 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 915.57 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 10-28-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday morning that bass fishing has been fair. 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 sunny 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. The lake has good clarity this week with the surface water temperature still sitting at 70 degrees. Water level is normal.
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 553.38 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 10-28-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Norfork Lake fishing has been pretty good for me over the last week. Striped bass is the one species that was slow to bite during September and the first part of October, but the bite has now improved dramatically. A slower bite for stripers in the latter part of summer is not uncommon, because warm water is not what the stripers want, so they just go deep to the cool water and wait for their preferred water temperature of 60-70 degrees. We are to that point and they are starting to become aggressive. There is a good after-dark bite for striped/hybrid bass and the morning bite is starting to take off. Various Norfork Lake flats have been the areas where fish are being found. The best depth for the after-dark bite has been anywhere from 25-33 feet of water. Trolling crankbaits that dive roughly 16 feet has been productive for a couple of our guests. Last weekend, several other guests found nice fish feeding early in the morning on a large flat. The fish were in roughly 32 feet of water and vertical-jigging a spoon worked best. I have been graphing various flats and have found feeding stripers each morning since last weekend. The fish have been in 30-35 feet of water cruising around at all depths. Some fish are suspended 15 feet down to the bottom. I have noticed that the larger fish seem to be suspended up in the water column and the smaller ones are laying on the bottom. In the same areas you will also find large schools of white bass. Most are on the bottom feeding, but some may be suspended.
“The news even gets better: feeding alongside of the striped/hybrid and white bass are many channel and flathead catfish lying on the bottom. It will not be long until walleye move into the same area.
“Vertical-jigging a 1-ounce spoon has been my best method to catch all of the above species. In order to catch these fish, I have had to experiment with presentation methods. I have caught fish casting the spoon out and letting it drop to the bottom. I then retrieve the spoon in a jerking motion, usually trying to keep the bait close to the bottom. Vertical-jigging has been productive, but on a few occasions I had to move slowly with the trolling motor and let out more line until the spoon hits the bottom. I then give it a hard forward jerk and then let it settle back to the bottom. Sometimes the fish hammer the bait as I am jerking it and a few times they have picked the spoon up on the fall and the line goes slack. You’ll need to reel the slack up very fast until you feel the fish and set the hook.”
Norfork Lake surface water temperature this morning was close to 70 degrees. The lake has become fairly stable with just slight variations either up or down and currently sits at 553.26 feet msl. The lake is slightly stained from the mid-lake area and heading north. The lake continues its slow progression to a total lake turnover. “I am starting to mark lots of bait a little below 60 feet, telling me the good cool oxygenated water is continuing to fall lower and lower until eventually it will reach all depths and the lake will be totally turned over. Some years it is an obvious abrupt turnover, but typically it is a slow unnoticeable process.
“Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 10-28-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 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 most every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. We have 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-28-2021) 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. 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.