Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 2, 2022

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report March 3, 2022.

White River
(updated 3-3-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Whether this is a ‘teaser’ spring or an actual early, here-to-stay spring season, let's take advantage of it. Cotter, 18 river miles from Bull Shoals Dam, is enjoying very mild daytime temperatures for the next couple of weeks; however, the cool nights still make for some chilly mornings. The releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been maintained at a near steady four units (12,000 cfs) over the last week while the lake sits at, or near, the normal power pool of 659 feet mls.
“The recent ample brown trout bite proves once again that February and March are great months to visit the White River; rainbows aren't ignoring the bait, either. Rumor is that there has been a shad kill at the lake, which causes pandemonium among the brown trout as they vie for the shad crossing the dam. If you're lucky enough to learn of it early on, you'll likely net lots of great browns, but all too soon the trout are full to overflowing and may be slow to take any bait whatsoever.
“Now, a week or two after the supposed shad kill, browns are again turning to minnows or sculpins. Keep some egg pattern baits (light yellow peach colored with an orange leading bead), or lemon lime-colored PowerBait on hand to drift at mid-depth and you'll be cranking that reel and bringing in trout.
“Drift-fishing will be the preferred technique when angling from a boat during the high releases, and now is the time to get out the heavy hitters: No. 5, 7 or 9 Rapala Countdowns, especially silver and black, diving to 5-7 feet. Under overcast skies, pull out your gold and black Rapalas. Keep an orange-bellied black or blue back Rogue tied on and ready to cast, too.
“Keep anglin' and we'll see you at the river.”

(updated 3-3-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the rain and winter weather last week, combined with both Bull Shoals and Norfork dams generating water, kept the river levels high this last week. Drift-fishing with Power Eggs and shrimp have worked the best during the high water. Anglers are reporting minimal success with jigs, spoons or other artificial bait. Fishing should improve as the river conditions stabilize.                                                                                                      

(updated 3-3-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had freezing rain and sleet combining for a half-inch in Cotter, frigid temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.9 foot above power pool and 15.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below power pool or 9.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had no wadable water.
There has been a shad kill on the White River at Bull Shoals Dam and on the Norfork tailwater at Norfork Dam. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs occasionally during cold weather and high generation. Use white flies like marabou jigs or mop flies.
“Streamer season fishing is upon us,” Berry said. “Now that the brown trout spawn is over, they are moving back to their regular locations. It is a good time to target them. Fishing is best with heavy generation. Bang the bank with big streamers on sink-tip lines. White is my current favorite color.
“On the White, the hot spot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. After opening day, there have been some big browns caught. 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 an orange egg with a size 18 purple zebra midge.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 659.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 11,517 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.85 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 3-3-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake level is still about 659 feet msl and the temperature is 48 and rising. Bass fishing has been fair. Generation has been moving the shad around. The deep bite continues to dissipate. If you are going to look for the deep ones, graph to look for shad and look for loons. Active diving loons will trigger feeding. Damiki on a Moon Eye and Rapala jigging Rap. As more fish move up and leave the shad, crawfish are on the menu. Try dragging a jig, shaky head or Ned rig in 10-20 feet around secondary points. Over the next couple of weeks, key in on areas outside of regular spawning areas. Jerkbait has started catching a few on points and bluff ends in shallower water around brushpiles, and a little wind helps. As the temps rise, fish are seeing red. Rock Crawlers, Wiggle Warts on steeper ledge transitions, and cover water.
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 554.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.75 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Total outflow from Norfork Dam is 6,432 cfs.

(updated 3-3-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said striped bass, largemouth and spotted bass, and crappie continue to be the best bites on the lake.
For stripers, over the last week there has been a definite change in where to find the bait and then the fish. The bait had been concentrated out on the main lake in the deep-water channels, but they have recently made the move back into the major creeks and some of the smaller coves. With this movement of the bait the striped bass has been following. Some of the bait is also starting to move close to the shoreline.
“The bait movement has created two totally different areas to fish. I have found bait near the creek channel in 40-60 feet of water. The stripers have been very close to the bait, either above it or below it. Several methods of fishing have worked for me so far. I have had luck vertical-jigging a 1-ounce spoon or vertical jigging a 3-inch soft plastic jig. I’ve been using a mini version of a fluke called a Tater Shad, which is made locally, with a three-eighth-ounce jighead. Both the spoon and the Tater Shad need to be worked slowly with just slight twitches for the deeper water fish. The most important tip is to get your bait at the same depth as the fish to get the most bites. Another method is trolling A-rigs, crankbaits or 5-inch swimbaits. Here again, get your bait very close to where you are seeing the fish. Fish have also been found tight on the banks, especially at sunrise and at sunset. Some of the bait has moved very close to the shoreline or the fish have started to push the bait tight to the bank. Yesterday (March 1) I found feeding striper right on the bank. I cast out a Kastmaster (blade bait) and worked it back to the boat very slowly with a jerking motion. I replace the treble hook with a feathered treble hook, which seems to attract more fish. You should also be able to use long minnow-type crankbaits and swimbaits.
For black bass fishing, the largemouth, spotted and smallmouth bass have moved up tight to the bank, especially early in the morning and late afternoon. Other times they move off a little and will be 10-20 feet down. Various lures are working, such as swimbaits, crankbaits (Rock Crawlers and Wiggle Warts). On windy days don’t hesitate to cast a spinner or Chatterbait. You will find them in both the clear water as well as the stained water.
“I found some nice ones the other day that had corralled some bait on the bank and I was getting hits on my Kastmaster 3-5 feet from the shore. We have some rain coming up this weekend, so after the rain head toward the running water coming into the creeks.”
Crappie are starting to school up and roam out in deeper water. They are still 10-25 deep. “I have found this to be true with the white crappie. The black crappie still appear to be holding a little tighter to the brush. Trolling crankbaits have started to work and will get better as the water warms a little more. Plastic jigs, spoons and live bait are producing some nice fish.
Norfork Lake surface water temperature is rising very slowly and is ranging 45-48 degrees. The lake level has been stable with a slight drop with intermittent power generation and sits at 554.19 feet msl. The lake is clear to stained depending on where you are at in the lake. “I post almost daily on Facebook. If you want more frequent information, please visit and like Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page. Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”

(updated 3-3-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort says the lake level is 554.29 and is the same as this time yesterday with generation about half the time. The White River at Newport is at 22 feet and they are letting out as much water as they can. The level drops when they generate and rises when they quit. We have had a little less than 2 inches above normal of precipitation for the first two months of the year, counting both snow and sleet. The lake is approaching the power pool of 553.75 feet msl. The surface water temperature is about 50 degrees back in the creeks in shallower water and 47-48 on the main lake and the main lake is stained with less visibility than last week. It is warming quickly with the ambient temperature in the 70s and the longer days and more direct sunlight. Some fish are moving back into the warmer water with the shad and shallow, and that should continue until just before the full moon, which is March 18, and will be prime-time for the after-dark bite for stripers on the stick bait. That is when they normally simulate their spawn.
Fish for walleye on shadowy banks with a soft plastic and then switch to the stick bait just before dark. Make sure your lure is running true when worked slowly. If it pulls off to the side you will not catch anything. They can be released without much harm when caught out of the shallow water. The crappie bite has slowed. “But the ones that I am catching are still in the same brush at 25 feet but very shallow, and just out of sight down about 5-6 feet. Do not park your boat right over the brush as they are very spooky and use your trolling motor sparingly and cast past the brush and let the jig sink into it.
“Some Kentucky bass are on the same brush but deeper. Several of the bigger black bass are on shad and are looking for the warmest water. We are in a transition period and fishing is changing daily and will change again when the weather gets cooler, and it will with the variable March weather.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 3-3-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had no wadable water.
There has been a shad kill on the White River at Bull Shoals Dam and on the Norfork tailwater at Norfork Dam. This is a natural phenomenon that occurs occasionally during cold weather and high generation. Use white flies like marabou jigs or mop flies.
“Streamer season fishing is upon us,” Berry said. “Now that the brown trout spawn is over, they are moving back to their regular locations. It is a good time to target them. Fishing is best with heavy generation. Bang the bank with big streamers on sink-tip lines. White is my current favorite color.
There has been no 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 particularly 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.
John also said, “I was pleased to get a call from Amanda to guide her son William on Dry Run Creek. My last few trips on Dry Run had been canceled due to inclement weather. William is 15 1/2 and was stoked to fish the creek. He is an avid fly-fisher and spent most of the previous summer in Montana fly-fishing.
“We met at 7:30 a.m. at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery parking lot. It was sunny and clear with a starting temperature of 31 degrees but a promise of a warmer afternoon with a high of over 60 degrees. William is about 6 feet tall and weighs around 200 pounds. If I had been an Arkansas Game and Fish Commission wildlife officer, I would have checked his ID to make sure he was less than 16 years old. I loaned him a pair of wool fingerless gloves and we walked to Dry Run Creek.
“He was a natural. He could cast, mend, set the hook and effectively fight trout. We were into trout immediately. He caught trout after trout, including a couple of trophy rainbows. Around noon, we broke for lunch. William took off his waders and toured the hatchery. After that, we returned to the creek and continued fishing. We hooked a huge trout but lost it.
“An hour later, William hooked another big trout. This one took off like a scalded dog. I looked closely and realized he had hooked it in the tail. Foul hooked trout are much more difficult to land than fish hooked in the mouth. It made a long run of several hundred yards. It went over several small waterfalls and was headed south. William and I took off following the big fish in hopes of landing it.
“I managed to trip during the process and it took me a minute to get back on my feet. Amanda was worried that I had hurt myself, but I was fine. The fish finally stopped for a rest and I was able to scoop it into the net. It was one of the best fights I have been a part of in years.
“It was a stout 26-inch male rainbow with a huge kype. We stopped for a photo and the carefully released the big fish. It was our best fish of the day. We went back to the spot where we had hooked the trout and continued fishing. Around 4 p.m., I told William it was about quitting time and he needed to cast one last time. He hooked and landed a fat 21-inch rainbow. It was the perfect way to end the day.
“We landed over 60 trout, including four trophy trout (over 24 inches long). It had been a very good day.