Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 20, 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 21, 2022.

White River
(updated 4-21-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “What a week on the White! Most every day started out with the threat of rain and with unseasonably low temperatures (in my opinion), then ended on a mostly dry, warmer note and we were treated to a big array of photos of browns and happy anglers. Rain doesn't seem to bother the trout.”
The lakes in the White River watershed have been rising due to recent rains. Bull Shoals Lake is sitting at 664.43 feet msl, 4 feet above power pool for this time of year. Water levels have been fairly consistent at between 5,000 and 10,000 cfs, which means the trout aren't being spooked by extreme changes in their environment.
“Our best bait was the Blue Fox spinner, gold, 3/16-ounce or quarter-ounce, but the Thomas Buoyant red/gold hammered quarter-ounce spoon was a close second. Try to keep your bait not too far below the surface of the water (keep your rod tip high).
“Crawdad season is almost here; we're finding a good supply in ponds and smaller tributaries. Trout love crawdads, but if you can't get your hands on real ones, shrimp is a close imitator, and the Rebel WeeCrawfish (Stream Crawfish color or the chartreuse/green back) works great, too.
“Rainbows have been moving toward sunrise and orange PowerBait, and combining that with shrimp or crawdad tail has been an excellent way to reel in some great-sized fish. Garlic PowerBait has proved successful, with either the yellow or white being the best.
“Stick to sculpins and minnows for the browns – they're just big meat eaters – and the bigger your bait, the larger the trout you'll hook.
“We'd love for you to include some trout fishing in your vacation plans, and Cotter is the Trout Capital of the U.S. of A. The fishing forecast: good to spectacular. Come test the waters.”

(updated 4-21-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said it was another slow week of fishing. The uncertainty with the weather and the varying river conditions have kept folks away from the river.  Those who did fish reported success using Power Eggs and shrimp. When the river was muddy, they fished the creeks using corn. There was a report of a lone fisherman who used a gold Little Cleo Spoon fishing the gravel bars and hooked a very nice brown trout, but the fish threw the hook when it jumped out of the water. “Hopefully after the April showers we will see more stable river conditions resulting in more consistent fishing,” Dave said.

(updated 4-21-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had several rain events (combined for less than an inch and a half in Cotter), warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). At this writing Tuesday, it is due to rain again tomorrow. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 4.7 feet to rest at 5 feet above power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 31 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.9 foot to rest at 1.7 feet above power pool and 14.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.4 feet to rest at 2.2 feet above power pool or 7.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 3.6 feet to rest at 4.3 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had some limited 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.
On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. 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.
John also had an interesting tale about motor failure on the river, “In December, I had a guide trip just a few weeks after my cancer surgery. I might have been pushing it a bit but I was totally over sitting around the house and was eager to be back on stream. My doctor thought I was good to go, so I took the trip.
“I met my clients at the usual time at the Rim Shoals ramp and took some time to rig their rods and launch my boat. It was cold. My clients wore their waders for the warmth. I was heavily dressed in fleece and down and was wearing my knee-high muck boots to keep my feet dry and warm. The water was at a good level for fishing, approximately 6,000 cfs (about two full generators) but promised to rise to about 19,000 cfs (about six full generators).

“We were fishing double-fly rigs, a size 14 flash back pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge. The hot fly was the midge and we did very well. I knew that we would do better on the lower flows but was concerned about the catch on the higher water.
“Around 11 a.m. I was expecting the water to begin rising at any moment. I was moving my boat to set up a drift when I noticed a loss of power. My engine was running well, but the propeller was not turning. I was adrift. This is not the kind of situation that a guide wants to be in, especially with clients in the boat.
“I knew that the water was about to rise and was not up for an uncontrolled float trip. I pulled out my paddle and made for the bank (the one my car was parked on). I was paddling as fast as I could so that I would reach the bank before my boat drifted into Rim Shoals. I made it to the bank just upstream from the walk-in access. I got out of my boat so I could pull it up further on the bank so the rising water would not wash it away. It was about this time that I discovered that the water near the bank was about a quarter of an inch deeper than my muck boots could handle.
“I secured the boat and walked up to Rim Shoals Trout Dock to see if Abram, the manager – recently he lived across the street from me in Cotter – could help. He was in Cotter. I called him on my iPhone and explained my problem. He agreed to meet me at my boat and assist. I returned to my boat and he arrived a few minutes later. He towed me to the ramp. I loaded the boat on my trailer. I talked to my clients and we agreed to end the day. Luckily they had caught plenty of fish.
“I took my boat to Tracy (Area Boat and Motor Sales) and got some bad news. After 17 years of faithful service, the Honda was kaput. I bought a new one, a Christmas present from my sister, Ernestine.
“Without assistance from Abram and Ernestine I could still be out there.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 665.99 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 4,008 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 915.93 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 13,014 cfs.

(updated 4-21-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported bass fishing has been fair. Generation has been slowed at the dam. Lake level and unstable weather has made the fishing up and down. The shad have moved three-quarters of the way back. Go with jerkbait in the morning and later switch to a 2.8 Keitech on a quarter-ounce bass jighead or swim a grub or 2.8 swimbait in shad colors. We’re having success dragging a jig, Carolina rig, shaky head or Ned rig in green pumpkin variations in 5-20 feet on secondary points and channel swings leading to spawning areas. Continue to key in on spawning areas, south-facing pockets and creeks with stain/runoff. If you find warm, stained runoff, use bright spinnerbaits, Chatterbait or square bill. Expect the fish to pull up eventually. 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 558.69 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 1,332 cfs.

(updated 4-21-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 558.14 feet msl and is rising slowly with one generator running for a few hours a day. One generator cannot keep up, but both can drop the lake. The White River at Newport is 20.48 feet. “I had a surface water temperature of 61 on the main lake and 57 in the creek that I was fishing on Tuesday afternoon. The water is stained a little brownish green but is still a good color for fishing. The topwater bite is usually in full swing this time of year but the cold fronts have slowed it down. It is to get very warm and windy by this weekend and it should get it going.
“The wind will just not go away but was not bad (Tuesday) for the first time. It is raining now. Some crappie have spawned and some are on beds and some are just staging. They are scattered all over the lake, but many are back in the creeks shallow. Catfish are moving back in the creeks and are biting on throw lines baited with live shiners. Some stripers are in open water on shad but they are mostly small. The walleye bite was good but now is only fair on main lake points. Bass are all over the place and are also wanting to spawn.
“Overall fishing on Norfork has changed with the absence of the high numbers of large stripers. The competition for food is less and more other fish are on shad in open water than before, even catfish and walleye. We are in a transition period, but some nice fish of different species are being caught every day.”
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, Kastmaster 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 4-21-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 3.6 feet to rest at 4.3 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 21.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had some limited 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.
There has been little wadable water on the Norfork during the day and it fished moderately. 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 well. Weekends can get a quite crowded during this time of year, but with school still in session the weekdays are slower. 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 4-21-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are high and off color. 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.