Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

December 8, 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 9, 2021.

White River
(updated 12-9-2021) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said that while many people are turning their thoughts and energies toward Christmas (and rightly so) and hunkering down for the colder months, anglers are still finding plenty of rainbows and browns willing to leave the comfort of their favorite hidey-holes. The water level below Bull Shoals Dam has been at minimum flow or below most of the week, “but now we're seeing some water in pulses as the lake shows a little rise after a dry fall. Watch for the river rise later in the morning and stay ahead of it for the best fishing. Flashy silver Cleos should work well in this water, as well as the silver-blue hammered spoons. Orange PowerBait has been the popular bait for the rainbows to mimic the eggs from spawning activity. During the sunny parts of the late morning, dry flies have been doing well with many hatches occurring as the weather warms slightly; orange and yellow egg patterns have been successful when the clouds return.
“Catch a sculpin or two to put on your hook for brown trout bait; keep in mind it's spawning season and many browns will be ignoring your bait unless it's especially pesky.
“Kids will be looking for Christmas vacation adventures and the river answers that call. PowerBait and shrimp are reliable baits to help them catch a rainbow or five.
“The weatherman promises very mild daytime temperatures for the next week, so pick up your rod and reel, get outside and come join us on the river. Bundle up in the morning and enjoy the excellent wintertime fishing. Merry Christmas!”

(updated 12-9-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week, they had just a trace of rain in Cotter, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.6 foot to rest at 4.9 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 40.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 0.9 foot below power pool and 16.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 2 feet below power pool or 11.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had significant wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.8 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had less wadable water.
All of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. The tailwaters have wadable water on a daily basis.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam until Jan. 31 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 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).
John also said, “Starting two years ago, the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission began stocking golden trout in the White and North Fork rivers. They are not the species of trout known as golden trout, the state fish of California. They are rainbow trout that have been bred in a hatchery to be very colorful. Their color is vivid. They are bright neon yellow with an equally vivid pink stripe. They are very easy to see in the water. I have clients occasionally catch one. They are highly prized.
“Recently my wife, Lori, and I have been out of action due to health issues. Lori broke her arm walking our big Lab, Ghillie. I had an operation to remove a cancerous growth from my mouth. These issues have caused us to cancel a few guide trips (the only time I have canceled a trip in 35 years of guiding). Lori’s arm is healing slowly and has also kept her from guiding. My recovery is taking longer than I’d like but I am now cancer-free.
“Yesterday, Lori took a long walk in an effort to build up her stamina for a return to guiding. She walked from our home in Cotter down to the trout sanctuary at Big Spring Park, in town.
“On her walk she observed a young man fishing in the sanctuary. This stream has the same fishing regulations as Dry Run Creek: catch-and=release for children under 16. Cortland was 14.
“She went over for a better look and noted that he was sight-casting at the biggest golden rainbow trout that she had ever seen, well over 18 inches long with a thick girth. Lori observed for a moment and noted that the lad was intent on catching the big trout and had been fishing for it for quite a while. His intensity and natural ability impressed her. He asked her if she would help him. The guide gene kicked in and she agreed to assist him.
“She had no tackle with her and asked to look at his fly box. She looked through it and chose a black hellgrammite, a tempting morsel. She tied it on. The water was shallow and gin clear. Lori figured they could easily see the take. She had him cast the fly a few feet above the trout and let it drift down to the fish. On the third cast the trout took the fly. Cortland lifted his rod to set the hook. Fish on! She carefully coached him on how to beach the trout without a net. This is always a dicey maneuver. It is really easy to lose a trout in this way.
“Cortland had a phone and they got a good photo. It was magnificent. Cortland went over to his mother. She could not believe that he had caught the big trout. She thought he had Photoshopped it. Lori convinced her that it was a righteous catch.
“Sometimes you just need a little coaching to achieve success.”

(updated 12-9-2021) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, reports that through Tuesday the river remained clear and low with lures such as spoons and Rooster Tails working well, as well as Power Eggs with shrimp, corn or worms.
Due to increased flow from Bull Shoals and Norfork dams on Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the river rose to almost 7 feet and the rising water muddied the water and caused a lot of trash to float in the river. Due to the rising water and dingy water conditions on Wednesday the trout were not biting well.

(updated 12-9-2021) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood said water is low and clear. Trout are good. They are catching a lot of numbers on Shad Raps in size 4 and 5, and jerkbaits (2-3 inches in white color) and white marabou jigs.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 654.59 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 913.53 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 12-9-2021) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that patterns are steady, while the temperature drops a little on the lake. 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 57 degrees. Water level is about 4 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 552.47 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 12-9-2021) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort reported Wednesday that the lake level is 552.64 feet msl and had dropped about 1 inch in the last 24 hours with both generators running about 4 hours. The White River at Newport is 3 feet. The surface water temperature was 55.5 degrees and dropping with the cooler weather this week when Steve went out fishing Tuesday. “There was a cool breeze from the northwest but it calmed at about 4 p.m. when the fish started to bite. It was slow before then. Very slow. The cold fronts just keep coming through about one or twice a week and do not help fishing any. I saw no other boats for the entire time I was out.
“I started out with the crappie jig and switched to the spoon when the wind quit. Crappie, Kentucky bass, bluegill and walleye are the best bite now with a few smaller stripers being caught trolling.
“Overall the lake is in excellent condition and at a good level for fishing. Work the bank for bass at sunset and brushpiles earlier at 25-35 feet the rest of the time. Winter bass fishing will pick up as the water cools. Some big crappie are being caught but not high numbers. Some white bass are on deeper brush.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 12-9-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.8 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had less wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are below power pool. The tailwaters have wadable water on a daily basis.
There has been little 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 12-9-2021) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and gin clear. 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.