Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 13, 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 14, 2022.

White River
(updated 4-14-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “No fair-weather fishers here: This past week brought several rainy days, and also delivered the heartiest of fishers to the White River. Water and weather (mostly windy) conditions combined to create difficult fishing scenarios, but we witnessed some great catches by skilled guides and tough visitors.”
They report that Bull Shoals Lake is at 660 feet msl elevation, but with the recent rains they are expecting the lake and all the other lakes in the watershed to rise. Generation over the past week has been steady, averaging 12,000 cfs, about four units. Remember though, higher water levels often aid in growth patterns of trout.
Use heavy weights/sinkers on your line to get your baits near the bottom in this deeper water and cast near the banks where the trout don't have to fight the current. “Sculpins remain the best bait for the browns; shad continue to bring in some really pretty ones, too. We've seen some rainbow action with redworms and spinners, quarter-ounce or three-eighth-ounce; red-gold seems to be the most popular color. Give the kids some shrimp and chartreuse PowerBait and they'll bring a mess of rainbows to the boat, maybe even one of the golden rainbow trout. Once in a while we're surprised when a good-sized brown is found snacking on shrimp.
“There's no better place in our great country to enjoy God's nature than The Natural State: Arkansas. Hoping to see you soon!”

(updated 4-14-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the uncertainty of weather over the last week kept most anglers off the river. “By late last week we started to see the river level decline to between 9.5 feet and 8.5 feet and the river flow to drop to around 20,000 cfs. The people who drift-fish found success using bright-colored Power Eggs. Bank anglers had success using Power Eggs or artificial lures such as spoons or Rooster Tails. The storms Monday night had little effect on the river, but the storms on Wednesday were expected to have a bigger effect. Keep an eye on the river levels and if you go on the water watch for debris.”

(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.
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and 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.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 660.70 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 16,708 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.95 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 4-14-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported that water temps continue to be good for bass fishing. Generation at Bull Shoals Dam has been steady. Shad continue to be spread out; look for the loons and follow them. Use jerkbaits 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. Continue through April to key in on the spots outside of spawning areas, around south-facing pockets; creeks with stain are doing a little better. As temps keeping rising, the 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. The lake level is above 660 feet msl.
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 555.85 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 4-14-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said that on Wednesday the lake level was 554.53 feet msl and had risen 1 inch in the last 24 hours with no generation since 1 a.m. “It is 11 a.m. on Wednesday now and it is raining hard. They always seem to quit when it rains but the level has been very stable for a few weeks and a lot of water has been released into the White River. The surface water temperature is 57-58 degrees and every time it rises, a new cold front comes through cooling it again. The water clarity is stained a little brownish green but is a good color for fishing. You can see your lure down about 3 feet in the Blackburns Creek area but more clear further downstream. Clearer water is not what you should be looking for now but the highest water temperature.
“I have still been catching crappie off main lake brush in about 18 feet of water and they should have been gone by now back into the creeks spawning. It just has been slow warming up. The topwater bite for temperate bass and black bass is getting better and better every day and they are coming up most mornings. Spittin Image is best for black bass and Zara Spooks for temperate ones. Get a good rod with some backbone so you can walk the dog effectively and practice. It will also call them up if they are not too deep. The Whopper Plopper does not require any skill to retrieve properly but also works.
“Some big bass are in the creeks now staging for spawn, but I am not seeing many doing it. Several fish are being caught every day with bass and crappie being the best, and it should just get better as the weather warms. The crappie are being caught casting a jig or grub past the brush and letting it sink into it. They are hitting on the drop. Some male crappie are on any wood back in the creeks shallow making nests.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

(updated 4-14-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “At this time the best bites on the lake are for largemouth bass and white bass. Crappie, walleye and striped bass are improving each day, and if we can get some stable weather, the bites for these species should take off.
“There has been some good topwater action for largemouth, spotted and white bass over the last couple of weeks. You can find topwater action most mornings and an hour or so before sunset. The best areas have been back in larger coves and creeks, typically anywhere from 8 feet out to 25 feet of water. On occasion I have found fish blowing up in the deeper parts of the coves in 40 or more feet of water. Of course, you need to the find the coves that have bait in them. These coves have typically been in the areas where the wind has been blowing into. As of late, we have had a lot of wind to push the bait all the way to the backs of the coves. Various baits have been working: topwater lures such as a Zara Spook, Kastmasters and smaller swimbaits with paddle tails. Even if you don’t see any topwater action in the coves, cast the banks with a suspending jerkbait and you will pick up some nice largemouth and a few crappie and walleye.
“Striped bass has been one of the hardest fish for me to locate consistently. When you find them, they will be in the same coves as the other species feeding on shad. They have been scattered out due to the rise in the lake level a couple of weeks ago, compounded by the hard and fast drawdown of the lake to evacuate the excess water. The lake is currently fairly stable now, and with some consistent warmer weather the striped bass bite will explode.
“The crappie bite has been fairly good. This species can be found in brush in 15-25 feet of water. Jigging soft plastics has been working the best. The fish are typically suspended over the tops of the brush 8-15 feet down. Some of the crappie have started to move back into the coves, but not all. The frequent cold fronts keep pushing them away from the shallow water. Here again with some consistent warm weather the crappie will move to banks to start their spawn.
“The surface water temperature (Wednesday) morning was 56-58 degrees. The water level is rising slowly due to the storm we are currently having. The current level is 554.69 feet msl. The water is stained 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.