Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 3, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report November 4, 2021.

White River
(updated 11-4-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake remains below established power pool elevation even with the rain this week. The lake is currently at 654.74 feet mls, which has provided early mornings with pretty low water and some wading opportunities. Releases have averaged 3-4 units for a few hours in the morning and late evening during this past week. Keep your eye on the water level if you're out wading; it can sneak up on you and make reaching the bank a little tricky.
Several days of rain and cool temperatures have kept some folks off the river, but the trout catch remains great. Cold mornings and warmer afternoons will pull anglers back to the river, and sunshine is forecast for the next week with perfect fall days predicted. Flashes of gorgeous autumn colors are seen throughout the Cotter area.
Nightcrawlers and red wigglers have been flying off the shelves as they've proven successful for many of our bank anglers as well as our float fishermen. Sculpins continue to get some attention from the browns, but as the spawn begins the browns will mostly ignore your bait. Annoy them repeatedly and you might get some action. Favorite artificial bait this week is any rainbow trout lookalike or stick baits with orange bellies. 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. Come join the action and enjoy the changing of the season.

(updated 11-4-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a bit over an inch and a half of rain, cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.2 foot to rest at 4.1 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 40.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.4 feet at 1.6 feet below power pool and 15.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 1.4 feet below power pool or 11 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had marginal wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 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 had less wadable water during the day.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through 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 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 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. Be sure and 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, “On our last fishing trip (a few weeks ago just before she broke her arm), my wife, Lori, broke a fly rod while we were fishing. It was one of our client rods that I keep in my Suburban. Though we have expensive Sage, Winston and Orvis rods, we often grab our inexpensive client rods when we go fishing. They are readily available, usually already rigged and fish well. In fact, I cannot tell the difference between the way the client rods and our personal rods cast.
Our client rods are Temple Fork Outfitter professional series rods. Brand new they cost $129. Mine are about 15 years old. These are the rods I loan to clients who don’t have or didn’t bring their own rods. We also regularly use them on Dry Run Creek. Because of this they suffer a lot of abuse. They are really beat up. Their best feature is that they have a lifetime warranty.
“When I got home, I remembered that I had another client rod that was broken. It was time to send them back to TFO to be repaired. I gathered the rods up and put them in the box they came in (I had kept the box in the garage for this purpose). I enclosed my address and a check for $80. That is $40 for each rod. I sent the box to TFO.
“Two weeks later I received a box from TFO. In it there were two brand-new fly rods. I can only assume that the people at TFO were so impressed that I had used the rods so much or felt sorry for me because the rods I sent in for repair looked so beat up.
“I used the rods the next week. My clients were so impressed with the way that the rods cast and fished they decided to buy the same rods for themselves.
“At the same time that I sent the TFO rods in for repair, I returned an Orvis rod. This was an expensive ($800) rod that I use for fishing streamers. Orvis comes with a 25-year warranty. I had to get a return authorization from Orvis. I enclosed the broken rod, my address and a check for $60. I mailed everything the same day as the TFO rods. I have not received the rod back yet.
“While the best idea is not to break a rod, the reality of the situation is that rods are broken in doors, in ceiling fans, fighting huge fish and a thousand other places. Most rod manufacturers offer some sort of warranty. TFO has one of the best; it is quick, inexpensive and easy to do. The idea of receiving new rods was a definite plus. The Orvis warranty is limited, cost more and takes longer.
“I have long been a TFO fan and this just reinforces it.”

(updated 11-4-2021) 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 654.70 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 915.77 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 11-4-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday afternoon that bass fishing has been fair, and that the fall turnover of the lake appears to be over. Chatterbaits, buzzbaits or Whopper Ploppers are the ways to go covering water if it’s cloudy. Post-frontal, a Peewee Jig or Beaver-style bait on shallow ledges and laydowns; when it’s sunny go with a shaky head on ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. On windy days, a Rock Crawler, square-bill, Wiggle Wart on the windy transitions. Offshore, shad are starting to group up a lot better. Try a Jewel Scuba Spoon, drop-shot or Damiki Ice Jig. Fish the conditions, and these days that’s a surface temperature of 64 degrees with clearing skies. Clarity of the lake is good. The water level now is low by 4 feet.

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 553.55 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 11-4-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 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 had less wadable water during the day.
There has been less 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 11-4-2021) 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.