Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 6, 2022

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report April 7, 2022.

White River
(updated 4-7-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We fish for trout on the White River tailwaters of Bull Shoals Dam in the Arkansas Ozarks, and our Arkansas Game and Fish Commission-managed trout waters allow us to catch a good share of fish every day. Most recently, generation from Bull Shoals Dam has been heavy – nearly seven units (20,000 cfs) hourly over the last three days – making the river deep and swift. The saving grace is that the generation has been steady without excessive drops or rises, so the trout have settled down and are noticing our array of baits.
“Healthy, fighting rainbows are answering the call of the Smithwick rattlin' Rogues, white bellied, 4½ inches, blue or black back. The smoke-colored suspending stick baits with silver bellies have provided some success as have red wriggler worms. What trout doesn't like a twisting, dancing, live worm? Gold spoons (quarter-ounce Cleos) are still attracting attention, and white grubs or smaller white jigs played mid-depth will allow you to put your net to work.
“The browns continue to chase shad on the upper portions of our fishing ‘grounds,’ but I can't say how long that bite will persist. Sculpins, tied to a No. 2 hook, floating near the bottom of the stream, never fail to catch a hefty trout. Once they've had their fill of the staples, cast something new and flashy to pique their interest.
“The ever-changing April weather reminds you to bring your rain gear (just in case) when you come to the Ozarks to enjoy some all-round great fishing. Time on the river is restorative. Come see us.”

(updated 4-7-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, reports that the storms last week dumped a lot of rain into the Buffalo River valley and the lakes. As a result, by Thursday the river reached over 15 feet and was very muddy. During the muddy conditions the trout moved into the creeks where they could find cleaner water and feed on the worms, etc. being washed down. By mid-morning Saturday the water cleared up enough for the fish to move out of the creeks. The river has remained over 11 feet throughout the last week. Fishing has been difficult this week but bright-colored Power Eggs worked best. If you plan to be on the river be aware of floating debris and fast water. Stay safe and good fishing.

(updated 4-7-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had several rain events that combined for 3 inches in Cotter), warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.2 feet to rest at 1 foot above power pool of 659 feet. This is 35 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 1.8 feet to rest at 1.3 tenths feet above power pool and 14.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.6 feet to rest at 1.2 feet above power pool or 8.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.9 feet to rest at 1.1 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had no wadable water.
All of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. With the current lake levels, we can expect no wadable water in the near 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. 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.
John also recapped the recent Sowbug Roundup in Mountain Home: “After a two-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, it was great to be back at the Sowbug Roundup. I saw grown men hugging each other. They were fly-fishing and fly-tying buddies that had not seen each other in years. It was a moving sight. Most were maskless, but a few attendees wore a mask. I was able to see and talk to a bunch of fly-tyers from all over the United States that I had not talked to or seen for way too long a time.
“It was like nothing had happened. There were some great seminars led by some great fly-fishers and some great vendors selling some great fly-tying and fly-fishing gear that I did not need. When you have been fly-fishing for 40 years, you pretty much have it all.
“The big draw, as always, was the fly-tyers. There were over a hundred of them from all over the United States – People I wanted to see like Fred Dupre from Texas. Fred used to live here and was a member of the Sowbug committee when he lived here. This year he won the Buz Buzek award from Fly Fishers International (the organization that the North Arkansas Fly Fishers, sponsor of the Sowbug Roundup, is affiliated with), their highest award for fly-tying. Past winners include Dave Whitlock and Tony Spezio.
“Dave Whitlock was our honoree and he did a masterful job. He held a standing-room-only seminar and an incredible fly-casting class. He was available to talk to and sign books late every day. He is a living legend, and I have never seen one of these guys work as hard as he did. He painted an original piece of art that he donated. The proceeds will help set up a foundation committed to protecting and improving Dry Run Creek.
“One thing that did not appeal to me was the generation levels we had on our local rivers during the festival. Most of the fly-tyers and attendees want to fish when they are here. Most want to wade fish. To accommodate them, the Sowbug Committee requested that the United States Army Corps of Engineers hold back on the generation to allow for wade fishing during the Sowbug Roundup. Despite the fact that all of the lakes in the White River system were below flood pool, the Corps ran water almost continuously. There were a few days where they had a brief 4-hour window of low water on the Norfork tailwater. There was no wadable water on the White River. All of the fly-tyers and attendees were very disappointed to travel here and not be able to wade fish. We can do better!”

(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 18,201 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake at 10 a.m. was 915.84 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 4-7-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said his report this week that warming water temps have been good for bass fishing. Shad are spread out; look for the loons, that’s where the fish are. Use are jerkbait in the morning and later try a 2.8 Keitech on a quarter-ounce ballhead, or swim a grub/darter. Active diving loons will trigger feeding. 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 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 555.60 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 6,220 cfs.

(updated 4-7-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 554.67 feet msl and has dropped 1.75 inches in the last 24 hours with both generators running continuously. They had some spillway gates open a bit for a couple of days but they are closed again now. The lake is approaching the power pool of 553.75 feet msl again, and that is good. There is some off-colored water but not bad after a 4-inch rain and the lake is in good condition for fishing. The surface water temperature is 57-58 degrees and rising slowly with cold fronts still coming through once a week.
The walleye, stripers and white bass have finished spawning and the crappie are ready and the black bass are not far behind. The spring topwater bite is beginning and the bass and stripers are coming up early after warm nights but not after cold ones. It should be in full swing by April 15. Surprisingly, some crappie and walleye are coming up with them. The male crappie are moving up in the creeks to make nests and the big females are still prespawn feeding, as are the female bass. “I am seeing no bass on the beds yet, but the water has been cloudy until just recently in the creeks.”
The big bluegill have started to bite again. Topwater lures, spoons, grubs, creature baits and jigs are still the best baits. A cold front is coming in soon and then it is to get warm again this weekend and it should get things started. People are not catching fish in high numbers but are getting some good ones, he says.
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 4-7-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1.9 feet to rest at 1.1 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had no wadable water.
There has been no 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 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. 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 4-7-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are still navigable. With warmer temperatures, the smallmouths could soon become 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.