Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report
More reports and other videos are on the Cotter
Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report
March 18, 2020.
(updated 3-18-2020) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525)
said Wednesday morning, “We're still fishing and the
brown trout bite continues to be great. We're hauling in
tons of good browns and a few trophy-sized rainbow trout
this week. Minnows and sculpin have still been standout
baits for the browns, along with blue-backed,
orange-bellied Smithwick lures. We've seen several
larger-than-20-inch rainbows caught and released this
week. Some were caught on sculpin and some on the
tried-and-true shrimp/PowerBait combo; try yellow or
orange eggs first. The continued high water means that
weighted line is popular for most fly-fishing, or
waiting for a glimpse of the sun to do some quick dry
fly-fishing has been the way to go. The trout are
calling, so come out to the White River for some great
(updated 3-18-2020) Sportsman’s White River Resort
(870-453-2424) says that they have green-tinted water as
this time. The river level is high, with the pool level
at 659 feet, reaching 659.3 feet msl this week before
more rain came in. Nevertheless anglers are catching
trout in good numbers. Reports of a few browns and
several rainbows hauled in.
(updated 3-11-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide
Service in Cotter (870-4352169) said that during the
past week, they had no rain, milder temperatures and
moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell three
and three tenths feet to rest at seven tenths of a foot
above seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is thirty
five and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool.
Upstream, Table Rock fell one tenth of a foot to rest at
five tenths of a foot above seasonal power pool and
fifteen and five tenths feet below the top of flood
pool. Beaver Lake fell one and five tenths feet to rest
at six and one tenth feet above seasonal power pool and
three and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool.
On the White, we had heavy generation. There was no
wadable water. Norfork Lake fell one and three tenths
feet to rest at three and two tenths feet above seasonal
power pool of 553.75 feet and twenty three feet below
the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had heavy
flows and no wadable water.
The White has fished well. The hot has been Wildcat
Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (#8,
#10), Y2Ks (#14, #12), prince nymphs (#14), zebra midges
(black with silver wire and silver bead or red with
silver wire and silver bead #16, #18), pheasant tails
(#14), ruby midges (#18), root beer midges (#18), pink
and cerise San Juan worms (#10), and sowbugs (#16).
Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective (my
current favorite combination is a cerise high water San
Juan worm with an egg pattern suspended below it). Use
long leaders and plenty of lead to get your flies down.
Bull Shoals Lake
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the
lake’s elevation at 658.40 feet msl (normal conservation
pool: 659.00 feet msl).
(updated 3-18-2020) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat
Dock said the clarity is murky. Surface temperature as
of Tuesday afternoon was 49 degrees. Water level is
high, up 2.5 feet. Crappie are fair on minnows and jigs.
Black bass are fair using crankbaits, jerkbaits and
jigs. Fish around the rocky points and into the spawning
areas. White bass are good. They’re being caught in the
backwaters and the spawning bays. Throw anything white
such as swimbaits and Rooster Tails. Walleye are good.
They’re around gravel points with bushes in the evening.
They’ll hit jerkbaits. View Del’s YouTube videos (Bull
Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for the latest in what’s biting
and what Del is using, plus his tips on how to fish the
As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reports the
lake’s elevation at 555.98 feet msl (normal conservation
pool: Sept.-April, 552.00 feet msl; April-Sept., 555.75
(updated 3-18-2020) Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said,
“I fished this past week in Bennett's Bayou for
stripers. The warm weather, full moon and the lake
drawdown changed the shad bait pattern. Most of the bait
was on the flat by Fouts and the big flat before the
Walker's arm of the bayou. The warm, strong winds early
in the week moved the shad up the creek arms, and shad
was very thick in both arms of Bennett's. I caught fish
on the flat by Fouts and on the big flat but it was slow
because the big bait balls were not there. I moved up to
the right arm and found bait 20 feet thick the length of
the right arm but by then it was late in the morning and
I only had one strike. My son was in the left arm and
was looking for bait. The water temperature way up the
arm was 64 degrees. He found lots of bait and crappie.
The crappie had moved up in the 2 feet of water feeding
on small shad. The anglers who figured that out were
catching them very fast. The patterns all changed with
the cold rain and temperature drop Saturday. Sunday
morning the highest water temperature was 50 temperature
and the creeks were 49 degrees. The upper creek arms
dropped 8 degrees. The bait moved out to the flat to
find their comfort zone. Sean and I had a two-boat trip
and we started off with a bang. We had each a little boy
and the parents and grandparents split the party up.
Each boy caught 12-pound stripers and numerous small
stripers. The fish were caught on the big flat before
Walker's arm in 40-plus feet of water. We were using
small gizzard shad and shiners on longlines and
“With all the rain and cold weather this week I expect
the window to catch stripers is very early and then late
afternoon. Until we can get some sunshine and warm south
winds, the all-day bite we normally have will not
“Keep fishing the creeks for crappie, find a brushpile
with their tops at 15 feet or deeper, and you will find
crappie. Minnows, jigs and small spoons are catching
limits of crappie. The best three creeks right now are
Big Creek, Bennett's Bayou and Pigeon Creek.”
(updated 3-11-2020) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway
Resort said, “Norfork Lake fishing has been good for
most species over the last week. The weather has been
fairly stable with cool mornings and warmer afternoons,
but the lake level changes has affected the fish most,
in my opinion. The Corps of Engineers has opened up a
flood gate to evacuate some excess water from Norfork
Lake. Our lake is dropping roughly 6 inches a day. What
I have noticed is that a lot of the baitfish are moving
out of the backs of the creeks and into the main lake or
other coves that are close to the deep river channel.
This has mainly affected the striped bass in the lake,
but will also affect where the largemouth will start to
“The last several days I have been fishing back in a
major creek in 15-40 feet of water. Each day I have
noticed fewer bait fish in the area. When I moved out
towards the mouth of the creek, I found more bait, but
they have moved into coves and sometimes all the way to
the back of the cove. When I find a large concentration
of bait, I have found many largemouth and a few spotted
bass feeding heavily. Yesterday in two different coves,
in roughly 15-20 feet of water there were many
largemouth feeding close to the surface, as well as
right on the bank. Small swimbaits and crankbaits are
both working, as are jigs worked along the bottom, from
5 feet of water out to 20 feet. I have also gotten into
some good topwater action for largemouth. This action
has only occurred when there is a lot of bait in the
area. Topwater action can occur any time of day so keep
your eyes open.
“Hybrid and striped bass are continually moving around
in search of their food source. The common saying, when
you find the bait the stripers will be nearby held true
most of the time in recent days. The striped bass are
feeding in very shallow water in the early morning and
also in the latter part of the afternoon. Start looking
at the shallow side of the lake for this species. They
are on points with brush and cover. This is normal for
spring time fishing, but it is happening a little
earlier than usual. The other type of areas where
stripers are showing up is in the backs of coves, but
only if the bait has moved in. I have been trolling
Berkley Flicker Minnows, size 7 and 9. The 7 dives about
15 feet and the 9 dives about 20 feet. I am hugging the
shoreline staying in 18-30 feet of water. I have found
that the stripers are also relating to brush piles, so
don’t hesitate to troll over the brush, but be prepared
to lose a few lures. The other method of fishing for
stripers is to cast out suspending jerk baits or 6-inch
swim baits. Yesterday afternoon a few of our guests
found stripers right on the bank, on a long shallow
point. They were casting a swimbait up in 5 feet of
water and retrieving slowing and getting hammered,
almost as soon as the bait hit the water. With these
shallow feeding fish, I would have to say that the
stripers are continuing to feed after sunset so If you
have interest in some exciting fishing, start slow
rolling a suspending jerk bait on shallow points after
dark. Cast your bait as close to the shoreline as
possible, then retrieve to the boat very, very slowly. I
like to keep the bait on the surface or close to it.
Some other fishermen like to jerk it once to get the
bait down a couple of feet, then start the retrieval.
Try both and see what the fish want.
“Like Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page for
frequent fishing report updates. Our fishing derby for
Hummingbird Hideaway Resort guests has also started, so
if you like a little friendly fishing competition and a
chance to win some cash or free stays for your big
catch, give us a call at 870-492-5113. Our derby runs
for throughout the year.
“Norfork Lake is dropping about 6 inches per day with
both generators and a flood gate partially open. The
current level is 556.04 feet msl. The surface water
temperature yesterday morning was 49-52 degrees. The
lake is clearing, but still stained. If you head up
river and up in the Bennett’s area the water is still
brown from the heavy northern rain a week ago. Happy
fishing and see you on the lake.”
(updated 3-11-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide
Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell
one and three tenths feet to rest at three and two
tenths feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and
twenty three feet below the top of flood pool. On the
Norfork, we had heavy flows and no wadable water.
The Norfork is fishing better. Navigate this stream with
caution as things have changed a bit during the recent
flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the
bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most
productive flies have been small midge patterns (#18,
#20, #22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra
midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead)
and soft hackles (#14, #16) like the green butt. Egg
patterns have also been productive. Double fly nymph
rigs have been very effective. Try a small ruby midge
(#18) suspended eighteen inches below a red fox squirrel
and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.
Dry Run Creek is fishing very well. With school back in
session it will be less crowded during the week. The
weekends can be pretty busy. The hot flies have been
sowbugs (#14), Y2Ks (#12), various colored San Juan
worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise
#10) and mop flies.
John also said, “Last week Chris drove 10 hours over
snowy roads to let his son, Collin, and his buddy, Jake,
fish Dry Run Creek. Collin had fished the creek before.
He had caught some trout but no trophies. Jake had
fished before but had never fished the creek. Chris
thought they would do better if he hired a local guide
and chose me. When we were planning the trip I was
concerned about the weather. It was cold. Chris was
concerned about the roads. They are from Minnesota and
cold weather is no problem for them.
“We met at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It was
twenty one degrees and the boys didn’t mind. They had
waders, good clothing and suitable gloves. We had the
place to ourselves. They were ready to fish. My wife,
Lori, joined us for the morning. The idea was for Lori
to work with one of the boys in the morning, while I
worked with the other. That way we could give them a
good start by providing more individual attention. I had
arrived before the others and had two fly rods rigged
and ready to go.
“We began fishing immediately. Lori was working with
Collin. He caught a good fish right off and then
another. I took Jake and we walked far upstream to a
spot that I knew had some bigger trout. We began fishing
and caught a nice one on the first cast. We fished for
an hour or so and caught about ten trout including a
trophy rainbow. We began working our war downstream
toward the spot where Collin and Lori were fishing. We
caught several trout along the way.
“When we caught up with them, Chris had noted a large
number of big trout keying in on a discharge pipe. Jake
was eager to try his luck. There were plenty of trout
and enough room for both of them to fish near to each
other. They both caught a few trophy trout.
“About that time the creek got very murky. The hatchery
personnel were cleaning the raceways and this caused the
hatchery discharge to muddy up and contained a lot of
food (to include some dead fingerling trout). I have
encountered this before and knew that it would trigger a
feeding frenzy. Luckily both boys had white mop patterns
on which emulated the dead trout fingerlings.
“Suddenly we were in the middle of a feeding frenzy and
we had the most effective fly for the situation. We
began catching one big trout after another. Lori and I
were both in the stream netting trout. Chris was busy
taking pictures of the bigger trout. At one time we had
a trophy brown in one net and a trophy rainbow in
another. Over an hour and a half we landed over thirty
trophy trout. I have been a guide on Dry Run Creek for
thirty one years and Lori guided there for eighteen
years. We have never seen as productive as a day as
this. The water cleared and the feeding frenzy stopped.
“We were worn out. We stopped for lunch. Lori had a hair
appointment and headed out. Chris wanted to stop by Twin
Rivers Fly Shop in Norfork to get some flies and
supplies for the next day, when he would be fishing the
boys alone. We figured the rest of the day would be
slow. As I saw his car leave the parking lot, I noticed
that the water was off color again and the feeding
frenzy was back on. I was by myself.
“For the next forty five minutes we landed over twenty
trophy trout. I was so busy netting fish we only took
photos of the two biggest trout. I tried to light a
cigar for thirty minutes but every time I pulled out my
cigar lighter one of the boys hooked another trophy.
Finally Chris arrived and immediately waded into the
fray. We had another forty five minutes of the frenzy
before we could relax. We stayed on stream until 4 p.m.
Chris and I were done but the boys still wanted to fish.
He promised to bring them back the next day and they
reluctantly agreed to quit.
“Don’t let off-color water on Dry Run Creek scare you.
It is a great time to fish.
Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 3-18-2020) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide
Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo
National River and Crooked Creek are navigable. The
smallmouths are much less active in the cold weather.
John’s favorite fly is a 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