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AGFC Fishing Report

White River

(updated 1-20-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the lakes in the White River watershed are all at desired power pool levels – Bull Shoals, Norfork, Table Rock and Beaver Lakes. The Army Corps of Engineers is monitoring increases due to runoff and is continuing sporadic releases through the dams. Those releases usually require some quick changes in angling techniques and baits. The mornings often start out with 2,500 cfs and gradually increase to 8,500 cfs or more for an hour or two by late afternoon, then dwindle back to nearly wade-able levels by late evening.
During the winter spawn of the browns, orange egg patterns work well, with our without the shrimp nugget. “We’re still having success with the black and gold spinners (one-sixteenth-ounce to quarter-ounce depending on water levels). For a couple of days this week, we were treated with a full moon in a clear sky which made the brown trout catch somewhat slow – browns are night feeders and use the extra night light for hunting, causing daytime anglers have to try harder.
“Those bright yellow golden rainbow trout are still being evasive, but once in a while we’re treated to a good bite. If you spot one, be ready to change your bait numerous times during the “hunt.” We see them following (but not biting) all sorts of baits for long periods of time. Then, finally, you might feel the tug with PowerBait/shrimp or a red wiggler worm or even a purple Trout Magnet grub at the end of your line. Work them slowly and you may be rewarded with an opportunity for a photo shoot.”
Expect the daytime temperatures to be as fickle as the water level, with expected highs from 30 to 50 degrees, but the nights will be very cold. Traffic on the river is slower in January than any other time of the year, so you should brave the weather and have the river to yourself for a few hours. “Come on in, warm up, and share your fishing stories with us; we look forward to seeing you.”

(updated 1-20-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says there haven’t been many people fishing the river this last week. The crazy temperatures with the snow last weekend, the mild day on Tuesday and back to freezing on Thursday have made fishing on the river interesting. Layer your clothes so you can add or remove layers as needed. Power Eggs with shrimp, worms or corn continues to work well. Rooster Tails and Rapala Countdowns have seen some success. The changing river levels can make fishing challenging at times but hang in there the conditions will change again. If you are bank or wade fishing pay attention to the water levels. 

(updated 1-20-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had snow (3 inches in Cotter), frigid temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool and 16.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below power pool or 9.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had a bit more wadable water.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River system are at or slightly above power pool. With the current lake levels, expect more generation.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed 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 February 1, 2022 this section will open to fishing.
On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. 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).

(updated 1-6-2022) Fish ’N Stuff (501-834-5733) in Sherwood water is clear. Trout are good when the Corps is running water; use a jerkbait and a No. 7 Rapala Countdown. When water is lower, use Trout Magnets in pink, white or mealworm gold colors on top and below shoals. Trout are also good on quarter-ounce and eighth-ounce spoons in trout or silver colors.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.48 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 658.41 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.0 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 1-20-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said bass fishing has been fair. No need to get out early, especially if it’s cold. There’s been a good afternoon bite one-half to three-quarters of the way back, 70-85 feet into the guts of creeks. Graph to look for shad and look for loons. Active diving loons will trigger feeding activity. Offshore shade structure seems to be the predominant bite. The shad have moved even deeper as of late. Some of the fish have left the shad, so power fisherman can grind it out. Key in on wind ledges, transitions, channel swing banks with chunk rock. Jerkbait has started catching a few under a little sun and wind, and use the Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart on windy days and cover water. You can always catch them on a jig. Fish the conditions. Clarity is good, the surface water temperature is 49 degrees. Water level is 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 553.75 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 1-20-2022) Lou Gabric, at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “Winter arrived in our area this week with a little of that white stuff and cooler weather, which has dropped the lake surface temperature a few degrees. The bait is starting to move out to deeper water due to the cooler water and has suspended 40-60 feet down in 70-100-plus feet of water. When the bait moves, so do the predator fish. The striped and hybrid bass are following suit. I have been finding quite a few striped bass in pairs, up to large schools. It appears the fish that have moved under the bait are not feeding, but the fish on top of the bait have been feeding aggressively. The areas to start finding them is anywhere from the mid-lake creeks around the Robinson area to the bridges, then farther north toward the 101 Boat Dock area and anywhere in between. Concentrate your search to areas close to the deep river channel, especially on channel swings. Live bait is working well set at about 38 feet. Artificial baits are working as well. Vertical-jigging a spoon, larger ice jigs and plastic jigs have been the best. Find the depth the stripers are feeding at and drop your bait to that level.
Largemouth and spotted bass fishing has been really good for me. My best areas have been bluff line points in 33-38 feet of water. The fish are hugging the bottom. I have been dropping a 1-ounce spoon to the bottom and slowly jigging it up and down just a little. When the jig is falling is the time when the bass have been sucking it in. Once you start to lift the bait off of the bottom, you feel the fish and the fight is on. With the cooler water temperature, the bass will also move into shallow water early and late in the day to feed. Use crankbaits for these shallow fish or jigs worked slowly along the bottom.”
Crappie fishing has stayed about the same. The best areas have been on brushpiles in 20-25 feet of water. The fish will typically be toward the tops of the brush. They may move inside the brush to shallower water early and late in the day. Jigging a spoon on top of the brush is working, or dropping a small soft plastic with a one-sixteenth or one-eighth-ounce jighead. You can also cast out the plastic jig to the shoreline and let it sink to your desired depth and reel it back to the boat, making sure the jig crosses over the top of the brushpile. Live bait is typically always a great way to catch crappie.
Norfork Lake level currently sits at 553.82 feet msl. The lake has risen roughly a half-foot since last week. The surface water temperature is around 48 degrees. The lake is slightly stained. “Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.” 

(updated 1-13-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort reported Wednesday that the lake level was 553.30 feet msl and had dropped a half-inch in the last 24-hours with just a few hours of generation. The White River at Newport was at 19 feet, which limits the discharge. “I just got back in from fishing and the conditions have changed with the warm weather. The surface water temperature has risen a little in the last couple of days and is now about 51.5 (degrees) and the lake is clearing and it needed to. It is now stained green and you can see your lure down 3-4 feet, and the brown water is gone but it is now a good color for fishing.
“Blackburn’s has several fishermen in now and they are doing well and it is improving. Today the striper fishermen caught some nice ones trolling, the bass fishermen caught some near the bank this evening and the crappie fishermen did the best using Bobby Garland Blue Ice Baby Shad on main lake brush at 25 feet. It was busy here this evening and everybody caught fish. It was a great day and a beautiful sunset. It makes life almost worth living. A great January day on Norfork. Thanks Arkansas Game and Fish for managing the lake so well.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s Blog. 

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 1-20-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had a bit more wadable water. The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River system are at or slightly above power pool. With the current lake levels, expect more generation.
There has been some 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 eighteen 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. Be sure and carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
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.

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