Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 23, 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 24, 2022.

White River
(updated 3-24-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “It's brown trout season on the White River, tailwater of Bull Shoals Lake: Our anglers are pulling in more browns than rainbows this past week and the guides are going all-out to continue the catching fever into the new week. No secret to what been tempting the browns: sculpins and minnows. Trap a few redfin minnows and you'll likely have a fight on your hands with a strong, healthy brown. Get a quick picture before the release to serve as bragging rights and rebait for your next catch. Handle with care.
Red and gold spoons are favored by the rainbows this week. If throwing spoons isn't appealing, try pink or Orange power bait or pink and/or pink/white Berkley mousetail worms. If the fish seem finicky, move on till you find a deeper hole where the trout are seeking refuge from fast water and you'll feel the tug.
“Feels like winter is having its last Hurray (we hope); there's been a cold wind blowing down the river these last few days. But it won't last, and it hasn't stopped the trout from biting. Just bundle up extra. Bull Shoals Lake has reached desired power pool level, now sitting at 659.13 feet msl. The lake has started to rise slowly from the rain and runoff this week. Generation from Bull Shoals Dam has stayed steady at around three units (9,600 cfs). Come visit the Arkansas Ozarks and enjoy a spring day in our Natural State. We have a great time each and every day enjoying and employing God's great outdoors.”

(updated 3-24-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the fishing has been great this week. Keeping it simple by using three Power Eggs on a No. 2 hook has done well. Sunrise-colored Power Eggs have worked best, but there has been success by mixing colors such as orange and white. Gold-colored spoons did OK when the trout moved onto the gravel bars to feed. Other lures such as Shad Raps and Countdowns had limited success. Use sculpins if targeting larger rainbows and browns.
The rain Monday and Tuesday combined with Bull Shoals and Norfork dams generating water had the river level reach a high of 11 feet on Wednesday. Luckily the rain didn’t muddy the water, so the main part of the river is fishable. If the river does get muddy, move up into the creeks where the trout will be looking for cleaner water, and if a person is lucky they may catch a smallmouth bass or catfish to augment the trout.

(updated 3-24-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had about half an inch of rain in Cotter, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell a foot to rest at 1.4 feet below power pool and 17.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.6 foot below power pool or 10.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no 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 wadable water every day.
All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the current lake levels, expect more wadable water in the future.
Streamer season fishing is upon us. 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 John’s current favorite color.
On the White, the hot spot has been the State Park 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.
John also mentions this week’s Sowbug Roundup 2022: “It feels like my life is getting back in order. I feel like we have put the coronavirus behind us and we are starting to do things that we haven’t done in a couple of years. I have gone back to the gym and am working out several times a week. More importantly the Sowbug Roundup is scheduled for March 24-26 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds after a two-year hiatus. It is sponsored by our local fly-fishing club, the North Arkansas Fly Fishers. Admission is only $10 for all three days. Children under 12 years of age accompanied by an adult will be admitted free.
“The Sowbug Roundup is the top fly-tying show in the area and arguably the best in the United States. This year’s show will feature over 100 fly-tyers from throughout the United States. Some of these tyers are artists with feather and thread. Others like me tie down-and-dirty guide flies that catch fish. Whatever flies you prefer, there will be several tyers there who will pique your interest. Attendees are very much encouraged to sit and talk to the tyer as he ties a fly. The tyers all love to talk about fly-tying, fly-fishing and how to tie a fly.
“This year’s Sowbug is dedicated to living legend Dave Whitlock. He will be there and will have a booth featuring his artwork and books. He is supplying us with an original painting that we will raffle off. Dave will also teach a seminar or two and will be honored at the Shindig, the awards banquet Friday night at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church. If you have any of Dave’s books, bring them to Sowbug and have him autograph them. He adds unique artwork to his autograph. It is truly awesome.
“There are other seminars, including one presented me and my wife, Lori Sloas, on Saturday on how to fish Dry Run Creek. In addition, Lori will be teaching fly-casting classes on Friday and Saturday. Other seminars cover a variety of fishing topics.
“In addition to Dave Whitlock, there are a variety of vendors selling fishing-related products and services. Alas, my old favorite, the Golden Rule Fly Shop, will not be there. However all of the local fly shops will be well represented. I will have a booth where I will be tying my signature fly, the Green Butt.
“I have been associated with the Sowbug Roundup for over 20 years. First I did seminars, then I started tying flies, later I became a vendor and now I am the chairman of the fly-tying contest. I believe it is the best thing we do. Stop by and let me tie you a fly.”

(updated 3-24-2022) White River Trout Club (870-453-2424) says the river flow is relatively stable. Trout are good. Cloudy days are better on midges and jigs around the bank. Four to five generators have been running at the dam.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 659.17 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 11,032 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.31 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 3-24-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said warmer temps have been good for bass fishing. Generation has been steady. The deep bite is going away. Shad are moving into the creeks if you’re going to do it. Graph to look for shad and look for loons. Fish a 2.8 Keitech on a quarter-ounce ballhead, or swim a grub/darter. Active diving loons will trigger feeding. Jerkbait, Damiki Moon Eye and Rapala Jigging Rap will work. As more fish move up and leave the shad, crawfish are on the menu. Dragging a jig, shaky head, Ned rig in green pumpkin variations in 5-20 feet on secondary points or in channel swings. Fish in the spots leading to spawning areas. Over the next couple of weeks, key in on areas outside of spawning areas, around south-facing pockets; creeks with stain are doing a little better. Temps rise and fish are seeing red. Rock Crawlers or Wiggle Warts on windy or steeper ledges and nasty rock transitions with stained water and wind. If you find warm, stained runoff, use a bright spinnerbait, Chatterbait or square bill.
White bass and walleye are spawning. Fish the conditions.
Visit 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 553.54 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 6,266 cfs.

(updated 3-24-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Norfork Lake has had some fishing ups and downs due to the ever-changing weather patterns. But overall, the bite continues to be good for most species. Yes, you do have to look for bait to find the species that follow the bait fish, but typically once you find the bait the fish will not be far away. The bait moves from very shallow water out to deep water, then the cycle begins again.
Striped and hybrid bass are being found all over the lake. “(Wednesday) I found them in the back of a medium-size cove where the strong southwest wind was blowing straight in. There were big schools of bait at the mouth of the cove, but once I passed the points of the cove, I found that the bait was scattered out. The fish were in 15-25 feet of water feeding on shad. The fun part of this area was that the largemouth, spotted and white bass were all feeding heavily on the surface. I also located a few scattered out striped/hybrid bass in 60 feet of water just outside of the main river channel. The bait was scattered out so, of course the fish were scattered out as well. I am catching the shallower stripers either by casting out a small 3.5-inch paddle tail swimbait or a Kastmaster with a feather trailer. I have been catching all species on these two baits when I find them in relatively shallow water. The deeper stripers I have been vertical jigging a 3-inch plastic jig but you can vertical jig a spoon.|
“As stated above the bass are getting very energetic. Topwater action is starting and will only get better as the water temperature continues to warm. This will happen when the cool fronts stop and we start getting some stable weather. Crankbaits, swimbaits, spinners, A-rigs, and topwater baits are all working at this time. After a rain head back into creeks that have some flowing water, you will find some nice bass.
“Crappie have started to school on tops of brush and are starting to roam back into their spawning areas. This is the time when I start trolling Berkley Flicker Minnows in size 7 and 9. Find a cove that has a lot of brushpiles and start trolling throughout the cove. You will pick up some really nice fish. There will still be some crappie in the brush, typically on the tops of the brush. Use a small plastic jig. Live bait drifted over the brush is also working great.
“This is a great time of year to catch most species in Norfork Lake.”
The surface water temperature this morning was close to 53 degrees. The water level is rising slowly due the rain last weekend. The current level is 553.38. The water is stained due to the rain, but is a great fishing color.
“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 3-24-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort says the lake level is 553.37 feet msl and has risen about 2.5 inches in the last 24 hours with generation about three-quarters of the time. The White River at Newport is 19 feet and rising. “We are approaching the power pool of 553.75 feet msl, where the Corps of Engineers take over generation control again. We received about 2.5 inches of rain here at Blackburn’s in the last three days, but it is over now and another cold front is here with highs near 50 for a couple of days and then warm-up later this weekend and very warm early next week.
“It has been very windy and making it hard to fish. The water on both the main lake and in the creeks is stained and you can see your lure down only a couple of feet. The surface water temperature remains in the low to mid-50s depending on where you are. Overall fishing is just fair with the bass bite being the best followed by crappie. Most walleye have spawned and have moved to the main lake points in water less than 20 feet, and the bite is picking up nicely. White bass have moved to the backs of major creeks in big bays and the topwater bite for them and bass will start soon and get into full swing by April 15. Bass are both on main lake and back in the creeks near the bank, but I have seen none on beds yet (but the stained water makes it hard to see them).
“It was very clear near the bank, but not as of yesterday. It will clear rapidly now unless we get another big rain. Male crappie are in the backs of creeks on any wood and are staging to make nests. If you work the bank with a jig, you can catch singles. The warm weather next week will make a lot of changes. The night bite for stripers is nearly over with just a few being caught on the bank at and after dark. This is an exciting time.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 3-24-2022) 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 wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the current lake levels, expect more wadable water in the future.
There has been wadable water on the Norfork during the day and it fished poorly. 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 particularly well. Spring break is here and the creek can get busy during the week. Weekends can get a quite 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 3-24-2022) 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.