Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 1, 2021

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report December 2, 2021.

White River
(updated 12-2-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Sure doesn't feel like winter. The first day of December brings sunny skies and 70 degrees. Releases from Bull Shoals Dam are at minimum flow or less (700 cfs) with an occasional burst bringing the river level to 6,000 cfs for an hour. Wade anglers will find many accessible locations; be extremely careful to keep an eye out for those sneaky increases. Be alert and always have an exit plan when you see a change in water level. Jon boaters will find it slow and go, a must-stay in the main channel of the river. It is said that this is the time of year folks are most generous, so be generous to one another out there and everyone can enjoy the river. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission manages a terrific trout population for us, so we can afford to give each other plenty of clearance.
“Lots of success with stick baits and spinners this week. Nothing too big due to low water. Silver and silver/blue hammered spoons or spinners (Vibrax Blue Foxes with orange bells and silver blades), floating Rapalas with orange bellies (the brook trout, BTR F5 is good), and white or ginger-colored jigs. The browns are spawning, so you need to be creative in what you throw and how you throw it; they're not too interested in you right now. Sculpins will still attract a brown trout but it might take more patience than usual. The rainbows continue to hit shrimp, and yellow/orange or bubblegum pink eggs.
“Come join us on the river; it'd be a shame to waste this mild-December weather shopping indoors. An added attraction: The R.M. Ruthven Bridge (better known as the Rainbow Bridge over the White River here in Cotter) is going to be radiantly lit with a rainbow of colors. Awesome views.”

(updated 12-2-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week, they had a half-inch of rain at Cotter, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.6 foot to rest at 5.5 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 2 feet below power pool and 16 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 2 feet below power pool or 11.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had significant wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.4 tenths of a foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 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.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until 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. This section will reopen to fishing Feb. 1.
On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. On the low water, the bite has been 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).
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, “My wife Lori’s sister and her husband, Terri and Larry, recently visited. They are both serious fly-fishers who prefer to wade. Due to three consecutive years of high water, they have not been able to fish much lately. Now that the lakes in the White River system are now comfortably in power pool, we are getting access to some much lower water with frequent wading opportunities. These conditions drew them to Cotter like bees to honey.
“They arrived mid-afternoon, and as soon as the generation prediction was available we eagerly checked it out. It showed a nice morning of low water on the Norfork tailwater. They were on the river at sunrise. The fishing was a little slow but they were so glad to be on the water, it just did not matter. They caught and released several nice trout. At mid-morning they drove back to Cotter to pick up Lori and me. We went to the White Sands Restaurant, just four blocks from our house, for a late breakfast.
“Later that afternoon the prediction for the weekend was published. We eagerly read it and noted that it called for 48 hours of absolute, on the bottom, low wadable water, on the White and North Fork rivers. Larry and Terri were stoked. With the water down this long, they could literally fish anywhere they wanted to. All of those spots they had been wanting to fish were now available and they were here to take advantage of it.
“It had been years since they had fished the Narrows, so they opted to fish there. They left my guest house well before sunup. They had wadered up on the guest house porch. Larry had rigged their rods the night before. They were loaded for bear. They arrived at the access. They were the first anglers there. As they waded across the near channel, they were surprised that there was water and current in the channel. When the river is on the bottom there should be little if any water and no current there.
“When they arrived at the run where the near channel and far channel met, it looked high to Larry. He is a big man. He is over 6 feet tall and is all muscle. He is one of the strongest waders that I know. He could not make it across after several tries. Terri had held back to see if he could make it before she tried. Larry assumed that the run had changed and could not be waded.
“Disappointed, they returned to Cotter. I saw them when they got back and listened to their tale. I then explained that the Corps of Engineers had not followed the prediction and was running a full generator. The river was not on the bottom. Once again the generation prediction was unreliable. When I fish, I always check the real-time generation before I leave the house just so that I can identify a situation like this.
“In a way, they were glad that the run was still wadable in low water. They were disappointed to get unreliable information.”

(updated 12-2-2021) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, reports that fishing continues to be very good. Spoons continue to be the go-to lure. Additionally, black jigs, Rooster Tails or lures with a spinner have worked very well. Power Eggs with shrimp, corn or worms continue to work well. Minimum flow from Bull Shoals Dam and limited generation from Norfork Dam has kept the river low. With this low water, be careful when boating and stay to the gravel bar side of the river. There are many rocks and snags now exposed or just under the water surface, which can damage a boat or motor.
Dave adds that on Tuesday, Nov. 30, over 750 trout from the Jim Hinkle Spring River Fish Hatchery were stocked at the Calico Rock boat ramp.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 653.74 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 914.52 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 12-2-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that patterns haven’t changed much. Bass fishing is still fair one-half to three-quarters of the way back into the creeks, Look for wind and shad-surfacing action. Birds and loons have arrived around the shad. The deep bite is hot, and bass are keying in on the shad in 40-70 feet. That seems to be the predominant bite.
In stormy, windy conditions, power fishermen can key in on ledges and channel swing banks with chunk rock. On windy days, Rock Crawlers, square bills and Wiggle Warts will work around the windy transitions. Offshore, the shad are starting to group up a lot better. Try a Jewel Scuba Spoon or drop-shot a Damiki Ice Jig. Fish the conditions.
Bull Shoals clarity is good, the surface temperature is 59 degrees. Water level is about 5 feet low.
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 553.33 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 11-18-2021) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Norfork Lake fishing really has not changed a lot since my last report two weeks ago. The lake temperature has dropped a little and the thermocline has dropped to basically the edges of the old river channel. The deep water will eventually become totally oxygenated and the water temp will be consistent from surface to the bottom.
“I have mainly been fishing on the various flats in the mid to northern parts of the lake. Heading west of my resort, Hummingbird Hideaway Resort, the flats are near Mallard Point, Cranfield Island, Cranfield Campground, Seward Point, Briar Creek and then up around the Red Bank area. Heading east of our resort are the 101 Bridge Flat, Big Sandy which is a little past 101 Boat Dock and the Cow Pasture, which is the area right before the 6B marker. (A few of the names have been given by local fishermen.) Striped and hybrid bass, white bass, largemouth and spotted bass, catfish and walleye can all be found on these flats at some point during the day and sometimes multiple times during the day. The bait moves onto the flat and the predators move in to feed. The best fishing depth seems to vary based on the time of day. But it seems that 30-40 feet of water has been the most productive depths during daylight hours. As the lake water cools the bait and fish will continue to move a little deeper. In the dark, the fish seem to move up shallower following the bait. My bait of choice for flat fishing has been to vertical jig a ½- to a 1-ounce spoon. The fish are currently feeding on 1½ inch to 2-inch thread fin shad. This does not mean they won’t attack a bigger bait and at times they may prefer a little heartier meal. I have also been casting out a 5-inch swimbait, as well as, my ½ ounce Kastmaster. Other styles of blade baits, such as a cicada, are working very well. Trollers are also picking up some nice striped bass by trolling umbrella or Alabama rigs. Other areas where these species are showing up or will very soon, are back in the major creeks, such as; Big, Brushy, Float, Panther and Fall Creeks, as well as Bennett’s Bayou and up river around the state line.
“I cannot personally talk about crappie fishing as I have been spending the majority of my time locating and catching the species talked about above. From what I have been told by the crappie guides is that the bite has been good. The bigger slabs are starting to move into the brush and small jigs and minnows are working very well. I will take some time off from my striped bass fishing and check out the crappie bite myself before long.”
Norfork Lake surface water temperature this morning was in the mid-60-degree range. The lake has become fairly stable with just slight variations either up or down and currently sits at 553.62 feet msl. The lake is slightly stained from the mid-lake area and heading north, but there has been a slight clearing starting to happen. The lake continues its slow progression to a total lake turnover. “I am starting to mark bait and a few fish 75-80 feet deep, which tells 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. This year the turnover process has been virtually unnoticeable.
“Happy fishing, and enjoy Norfork Lake.”

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 12-2-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.4 tenths of a foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 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 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 12-2-2021) 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 colder temperatures, the smallmouths are not 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.