Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 5, 2022

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report January 6, 2022.

White River

(updated 1-6-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We're looking ahead to the new year and seeing lots of opportunities for trout anglers, young and old. Water releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been variable, going from around two units (5,600 cfs) to over five units (16,000 cfs) pretty regularly this last week. The lake is just below its normal power pool of 659 feet mls. These past weeks, with significant weather fluctuations we've seen, we've been catching rainbows with a mashup of shrimp and corn; the browns have responded well to jigs and river minnows, especially redfin minnows if you can find them.
“Lunker brown fishing is just around the corner as the end of the spawning season is upon us. Anglers have the opportunity during the high-water times to cast those big stick baits now. Get out your No. 7 and No. 9 Rapala Countdowns, gold and black or the rainbow pattern, and the 3-inch and 4-inch Smithwicks; try the blue back, orange bellies first. If you're fishing from a jon boat, drift a live worm or a bright pink plastic 2-inch worm toward the bank and near the bottom. It's all about variety; if you don't get a bite after several casts with one bait, change locations, change your bait, or both.
“Hope to see you in 2022. Catch a not-too-cold winter day to come over to the White; the coffee's on and the trout are biting.”


(updated 1-6-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says the rain on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day caused the river to rise to almost 11 feet and become muddy. By Tuesday of this week the water was clearing with some remaining dinginess and river levels varying between 7 and 9 feet. During these conditions the best bait has been Power Eggs with shrimp, worms or corn. There has been some limited success throwing Rapala Countdowns or similar lures.

Being aware of the rise and fall of the river will increase your chances of catching fish if you can stay ahead of the rising water or move upriver to where river conditions have stabilized.


(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.


(updated 12-30-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that on the White River in his area, the hot spot has been the Rim 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).

John also sid, “I am different from the other fly-fishing guides around here. Maybe it is my past history as an Army officer in Viet Nam or long career as a CPA. I tend to be conservative and tight with my money. Most of my fellow guides have high-dollar river boats with big jet motors. They trade in these rigs every year so that they are always fishing with a new boat and motor. On the other hand I am fishing from a 2003 second-hand Supreme with a Honda prop motor. I also drive a second-hand Suburban.

“Years ago I was offered a deal with a local boat manufacturer to buy a new boat each year at a discount and then sell it at the end of the year and to do this year after year. It was a kind offer but it just didn’t appeal to me. It takes me a while to get used to things. I have had my latest Suburban for over a year and I am still figuring out all of the controls. How to operate the cruise control and the rear window wipers remain a mystery to me.
“I like to buy good gear, take care of it and use it for a long time. My waders are top of the line Simms that I have been wearing for 10 years. They look a bit ratty, but they do not leak. My favorite fly rod is an over 20-year-old Sage Light Line that I inherited from my brother, Dan. It casts like a dream and I have literally caught thousands of trout with it.

“My Honda outboard motor was a similar deal. I bought it used over seven years ago with a used boat and trailer. I would never have bought a Honda on my own but it came with the deal. I was a Mercury man. I quickly grew to love it. The motor was quiet, reliable and just sipped gas. It required little maintenance.
“Just like everything else, it could last just so long. It was built in 2003 and was getting a little long in the tooth. It was beginning to have reliability issues. Last week it broke down on me during a guide trip. That is a situation that I could not accept. After 18 years of service, it was time to replace it.
“I went to Tracy Area Boat and Motor to buy a new Honda outboard motor. My sister, Ernestine, had graciously offered to give me one for Christmas. I was flabbergasted. I had never gotten a gift like that. I accepted as quickly as I could. I had to cancel several trips due to my cancer diagnosis this year and this helped me a lot.
“I tried to trade my old motor in but they told me that the Honda was in bad shape. I have a reputation here in Cotter that I am not the guy to buy a used car from. When I trade them, they are used up. I guess the same is true on buying used outboard motors.
“Thank you Ernestine!”


Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 658.95 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 915.25 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).


(updated 1-6-2022) 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, 60-75 feet, into the guts of creeks. Look for wind-shad surfacing action. Birds and loons have arrived around the shad. That seems to be the predominant bite. In stormy, windy conditions, power fishermen can grind it out; key in on wind ledges, channel swing banks with chunk rock. Use Rock Crawlers, square bills or a Wiggle Wart on windy transitions. Cover water. Offshore shad have been moving. Try a Jewel Scuba Spoon, drop-shot and Damiki Ice Jig. Fish the conditions. The clarity of Bull Shoals Lake is good. Surface temperature is 53 degrees. Water is below normal pool.

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 553.69 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 1-6-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort reported the lake level is 553.80 and is stable “with just enough generation to keep up with the 3-inch rain we received last week. The surface water temperature was 52.5 degrees and the water was stained green and you could see your lure down 2-3 feet on the main lake and less than that when I went out yesterday afternoon. The ambient temperature was in the early 40s and it was partly cloudy with winds just short of whitecaps. Cold fronts have been moving through at least once a week and slowing fishing but not stopping it.”
Open water anglers are finding temperate bass anywhere from 45-80 feet on shad with white bass approaching 2 pounds, but the stripers are small. Bank and brush anglers are catching about everything but not in high numbers. Green stingray grubs and spoons are the best lures. The fish on the bank are on the main lake on their winter banks in chunk rock in about 10 feet of water and hitting the grub. Crappie in the 10- to 11- inch range are in brush at 25-30 feet on the jigging spoon along with some big bluegill and Kentucky bass. The best bite is from about 3:30 p.m. until dark. The wind usually lays about 4 p.m., if it is going to. The lake in general is in excellent condition and at a good level for fishing but overall fishing is just fair.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.


Norfork Tailwater

(updated 1-6-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said 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 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 on vacation 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.


Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 1-6-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are still navigable. 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.