Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

March 30, 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 31, 2022.

White River

(updated 3-31-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is on the rise after Wednesday’s rainstorm. The lake was sitting at 659.26 feet msl; expect an increase of at least a few feet in the next week, which means continued generation at the dam. A steady flow, whether high or low, makes for the best fishing because the trout settle down and (we hope) begin to pay attention to the baits you've chosen to cast.

“Old fishing adage: You can't catch one if your line isn't in the water, so come on over and drop a line (6-pound test, green monofilament is a good start). Local fishing adage: March is the best time to catch a brown. This year's March made a believer out of me –we're closing out the month with a bang. We've netted more browns than rainbows some days, and the trout we've netted have been healthy and are providing a lot of action. Most were caught with a sculpin, but don't leave the minnows at home. Shad is a great treat for the browns, but it might be past prime as we move into April. It might surprise you to find that a gold Little Cleo hasn't lost its allure to the browns. We saw a 32-inch brown caught off guard by a quarter-ounce Cleo; netted, pictured and returned before he knew he was out of the water.

“Use a heavier weight to float your baits nearer the bottom in this deeper water we're expecting after spring rains; cast near the banks where the trout don't have to fight the current. We've had a lot of success with spoons, in addition to the Cleo, especially the red/bold Thomas Buoyant quarter-ounce Spoon. Redworms have rewarded lots of anglers during afternoon rises.

“The redbuds are blooming, the pear trees are decked out in white buds and spring has sprung here in our beautiful Ozark Mountain region of Arkansas. You're invited to come join us.”

 

(updated 3-31-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said it has been another good week of fishing in the Calico Rock area. “We have seen more brown trout caught this week in the 18- to 23-inch range, with a 15-pound 32-inch whopper caught Sunday. It wasn’t unusual for guided fishing trips to catch 50 or more trout in one day, allowing the fisherman to be selective on the trout they put in the live well. Sunrise and orange Power Eggs worked well this week with and without gold or silver inline spinners. If focusing on bigger fish, use sculpins. Silver and rainbow-colored CD9 Rapala Countdowns had success this week.

“This early spring weather has been chilly in the morning and warming up during the day. Dress in layers and be prepared for what Mother Nature might have in store for the day. Most importantly, get out and enjoy the beauty of the White River.”

 

(updated 3-31-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had about half-inch of rain in Cotter, warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady 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 rose 0.9 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool and 16.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.4 foot below power pool or 10 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake remained steady 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 some wadable water for a few days.

John says, “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 my current favorite color.”

On the White, the hot spot has been the State Park below Bull Shoals Dam. There are still a few shad coming through on occasion. 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 or a girdle bug.

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.

 

(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 660.07 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 12,145 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake at 10 a.m. was 915.21 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

 

(updated 3-31-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said his report this week is the same as last week. 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 555.09 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 6,006 cfs.

 

(updated 3-31-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level Wednesday was is 552.97 feet msl and had risen a half-inch in the last 24 hours. “They run both generators for a few days, cut to one for a couple of days and have now completely quit since (Tuesday) night. The White River at Newport is at 19 feet and dropping. They always seem to quit generating when it rains and we are to get 1-2 inches (Wednesday).

“The lake level has actually been very stable for the last several weeks. The water color is still stained green and you can see your lure down about 2-3 feet, and it is clearer near the bank but the wind is keeping everything stirred up. The surface water temperature was 53 (Tuesday) afternoon and it has also been stable or hovering around that also for several weeks, but is creeping up. The wind has been incessant all week and has made it hard to fish the main lake. Some male crappie have moved to the backs of creeks and are staging for spawn, but there has been no evidence of either bass or crappie making nests yet. I found some schools of crappie on main lake points on brush from 18-25 feet but it has been hard to stay on them in the wind. If you use the anchor on your trolling motor to stay on the brush, it continues to hunt and spooks the fish. Go against the wind and use the motor as sparingly as possible, especially on the shallower fish.

“Bass are on the same brush but are on the bottom and they are mostly Kentucky bass. Tap the bottom with your spoon or creature bait while vertical-jigging.

“Some stripers are schooled after the spawn simulation and trollers are catching them on shad but are working hard to find them. Crappie are wanting to spawn bad and bass are a little behind them. Some warm weather and warm nights will bring everything along. All of March has been windy with cold fronts coming through every week slowing fishing but not stopping it. I am glad April is coming but it brings storms. Stable water levels bring good spawns.

For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

 

(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. “Today 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 the area starts getting some stable weather. Crankbaits, swimbaits, spinners, A-rigs and topwater baits are all working. After a rain, head back into creeks that have some flowing water and 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 was close to 53 degrees. The water level is rising slowly due the rain last weekend. The current level is 553.38 feet msl. 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.”

 

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 3-31-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake remained steady 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 some wadable water for a few days.

John says, “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 my current favorite color.”

There has been some 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. 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.

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.

John also said, “I write a lot about fishing on Dry Run Creek. The reason is simple. I love teaching people, and children especially, how to fish, and there is no better place to do this than Dry Run Creek. The stream is small and easily waded and the fish are huge. My key to success has always been close personal attention.

“Last week a repeat customer moved me out of my comfort zone. He wanted me to guide his three grandchildren aged 10-15. Normally when this happens I get my wife, Lori, to help me. Unfortunately she was in Kansas City attending a dog show with our Labrador retrievers (our male, Ghillie had a major win). Now when you are guiding three kids at once, one is tangled, one has their fly in a tree, and one is fighting a trophy rainbow.

“Granddad had fished with me before and agreed to keep an eye on his 12-year-old grandson, Luke, and net his fish. All I had to do was put him in a good spot, rig his rod and deal with tangles and lost flies. Luke had fished with me before and is a good angler; he would not require much attention.

“Granddad wanted me to concentrate on Lattie, his 15-year-old granddaughter. She is on the cross country track team and loves to hunt and fish. She wanted to fish Dry Run Creek before she turns 16 this year. Her dad accompanied us to assist.

“Kayliegh, the 10-year-old granddaughter, was to join us later in the day with her mother and grandmother when it warmed up. She was not as interested in fishing as the others. I was to help her once Lattie got the hang of it.

“I got Luke started and then took Lattie to a nearby spot. She was a natural. She was into fish immediately and took instruction well. She landed a trophy rainbow and several large trout.

“Kayliegh arrived and I began working with her. I had her on a good spot where Lattie had been fishing, and moved Lattie to a nearby spot that was fishing well, where I could watch them both. I was coaching Kayliegh and she began picking up the technique. Luke showed up. He had lost his fly. As I was repairing his rig, Lattie hooked a nice fish. I sent dad to assist. Then Kayliegh hooked a trophy trout. The net was with dad. I called to him to hurry up and get the net to me. This was Kayliegh’s first trout and it was important to land it. It was also a trophy. I carefully coached her and she performed flawlessly. I got the net and scooped the trout.

“Though it got busy at times, they all landed at least one trophy and had a great time doing it. Life is good!”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 3-31-2022) 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.