Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

April 27, 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 28, 2022.

White River
(updated 4-28-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “April ended on a high note for trout anglers in Cotter. The catch has been especially good this past week for browns. Most were not officially ‘trophies’ but there were many that fell just an inch or two short of the 24 inches required to earn a catch-and-release pin. The bait of choice was, again, sculpins but sometimes a few crawdads were added to the mix and helped bring a brown to the boat.”
The water level over the past few days has been pretty steady at just about one unit (3,300 cfs) to three units (9,000 cfs), so anglers were able to drift for trout or find their favorite fishing hole and drop a line there. The lake level is rising – 667.63 feet msl as of this writing – so expect an increase in generation sometime soon. You can hook your share of rainbows with a pink worm, sometimes tipped with white PowerBait. A rise in the water level due to increases in generation washes worms (red wigglers mostly) into the river, so baiting your hook with a real worm will add to your creel, too. Tie on something with lots of gold flash if using stick baits (Berkley Hit Stick in gold/black), and spoons and spinners with blue and silver blades have also proven successful. The low-water times have also been great for our fly-fishers with many wading opportunities opening up. Can't miss with a silver/red midge. The river level can change fast, so keep an eye on the water level if wade fishing.
“We've been battling some strong winds the last week or two, but don't give in. I think it's just nature trying to push winter out of the way. Looks like the area is in for some moderate temperatures and some welcome sunshine, but don't stow the rain gear quite yet. Whatever the weather, we'll catch some trout. See you there.”

(updated 4-28-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said, “Mother Nature is throwing us a lot of curve balls this year. Just when the river conditions and fishing get good after one storm, another storm blows through. Late last week the fishing was good. There was a lot of success resulting in some nice-sized brown trout and rainbow trout using artificial lures such as spoons, Rapala Countdowns and crankbaits. Sunrise Power Eggs with a piece of shrimp also were successful.
The rain Sunday night didn’t affect the river at Calico Rock until Tuesday morning. The Buffalo River (30 miles upriver from Calico Rock) got up to 18 feet, which dumped a lot of muddy water and debris. Boating was like playing the old video game Frogger, as you had to keep dodging the debris.
With the river muddy on Tuesday and Wednesday, the best fishing was moving into the creeks where the water was cleaner. Wednesday the Norfork Hatchery stocked over 1,300 rainbow trout at the Calico Rock boat ramp and more trout at the Chessmond Ferry boat ramp.

(updated 4-28-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had several rain events that combined for 1¾ inches in Cotter, warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 3.1 feet to rest at 8.1 feet above power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 27.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at 1.7 feet above power pool and 14.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 4.2 feet to rest at 6.4 feet above power pool or 3.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 2.3 feet to rest at 6.6 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 19.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had more wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. With the current lake levels, we can expect some wadable water on the Norfork.
On the White, the hot spot has been Rim 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 River, Norfork Dam tailwater 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.

John also says, “I am a fly-fishing guide. I also write about and teach fly-fishing. From time to time I am asked to do something outside my comfort zone. Recently I was asked to take some nice people on an eco-tour. I agreed and then thought, ‘What is an eco-tour?’ I thought about it for a while. Where do I go? What do I say? Is it just a boat ride?
“I also thought that it would have to be easier than a guide trip. I don’t have to give any casting lessons, untangle bird nests or replace lost flies. Since there is no fishing, I am not very likely to get impaled with a good-sized hook. I don’t even have to produce trout.
My client was a friend of Lori’s and is one of the top dog handlers in the United States. She wanted to entertain her brother and his wife, who were in town on vacation. They were from Wisconsin and were staying in their trailer at White River Camp Grounds across the river from Cotter.
“We met at the Rim Shoals ramp. I got there early and launched my White River johnboat. The weather was perfect. It was sunny with an expected high of 66 degrees and moderate winds. They were running around 12,500 cfs, or about four full generators. This was plenty of water for me to go anywhere I wanted to go without worrying about hitting any rocks.
“I loaded all three of them in my boat and headed upstream. We passed several nice homes and a lot of beautiful scenery. We had not gone far when we saw a bald eagle. We went further and saw another. This time it flew right over the boat. It was as close as I have ever been to an eagle in the wild. As we came into Cotter, we saw great blue heron hunting near the shore.
“As we went under the historic R. M. Ruthven Bridge (1930) and Cotter Railroad Bridge (1905), we noticed a colony of cliff swallows had built their unusual mud nests on the bottom of the Ruthven Bridge. They were actively working the water, keying in on hatching aquatic insects.
“When we returned to Rim Shoals, we observed a huge hatch of caddis flies. This is our most important aquatic insect of the year. They were fairly large and quite active. Unfortunately the Army Corps of Engineers was running a lot of water and the trout were not keying in on them. However, the purple martins were everywhere, taking them from the surface of the water with gusto.
“We finished the day after a 2-hour cruise that had noted a lot of wildlife. My clients had really enjoyed themselves. It is something I would like to do again.”

Bull Shoals Lake
|As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 668.23 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 4,722 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 13,001 cfs.

(updated 4-28-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported similar finishing patterns this week. Bass fishing has been fair. Generation has been slowed again at the dam. Lake level and unstable weather has made the fishing up and down for a few weeks. The shad have moved and are spread out. Use a 2.8 Keitech on a quarter-ounce ball head or swim a grub or 2.8 swimbait in shad colors. “We’ve been dragging a Jewel Football Jig and Carolina rig, shaky head or Ned rig in green pumpkin variations in 5-20 feet on secondary points and channel swings and in areas leading to spawning areas. Continue to key in on spawning area and south-facing pockets. A big wave of fish have moved into the bushes. Consider a Beaver/Senko/small jig around those. After a big rain, fish the creeks with stain/runoff. If you find warm and dirty water, use a bright spinnerbait, Chatterbait or square bill. The bite hasn’t been typical of year’s past with these cooler temperatures, so fish the conditions. The level is up to 667 feet, or 8 feet over normal pool. Temperature is 58 degrees, give or take.
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 560.99 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 at 10 a.m. was 20 cfs, though daily flows have reached 6,000 during periods each day this week.

(updated 4-28-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday the lake level is 560.69 feet msl and has risen 3½ inches in the last 24 hours with 5 hours of variable generation. The surface water temperature is about 63 degrees on both the main lake and back in the creeks. The lake is clearing with the low generation and is very clear near the shore. There is no brown left in the water. Walleye, white bass and stripers have all spawned and are showing up on shad for a good topwater bite most mornings just before or at sunrise in windblown creeks. They move out a little deeper after they go down, and you can switch to a jig, grub or creature bait on a jig head. “I am using a three-sixteenth-ounce white with a redeye head and 2½-inch white jig, grub or a lizard or crawdad green in color and setting in about 30 feet of water and casting to the shore and retrieving slowly just off the bottom. Do not drag the lure. I like a paddle-tail grub sometimes but the 2½-inch Bobby Garland Blue Ice Swimmer also works well. The paddle tail is very small and gets bit off a lot but gets a lot of bites.
“Sight-fishing for bass on beds is also working with a Gitzit or football jig. Many bass are on beds now with an optimum water temperature for spawn. I have seen no bass fry yet, but there could be some.
“The crappie have strung out the spawn again this year with the constantly rising water and are in various stages with some finished, some in the creeks spawning near wood, and some still on main lake brush full of eggs. A lot of fish have moved in under docks in just the last couple of days in about 15 feet of water, as have several walleye.
“The walleye bite is as good as I have seen it in several years, with more over 18 inches than in the past. Some are even showing up on shad and hitting topwater lures. If you try a small popper during the day behind the buckbrush, you will catch a variety of fish. Use a clear Zara Spook on sunny days for topwater and a bone-colored one on cloudy days. The clear one sparkles in the sunlight and is very effective. Get out early, take the middle of the day off and go out again about 5 p.m. and fish until after sunset. Fishing overall is fair-good and the lake is in excellent condition and getting clearer.”
Catfishing is also getting better and several are coming in of all three varieties. Live shiners and perch are working on throw lines perpendicular to the bank and off docks on rods and reels. 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 4-28-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 2.3 feet to rest at 6.6 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 19.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had more wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. With the current lake levels, we can expect some wadable water on the Norfork.
There has been more 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 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 River, Norfork Dam tailwater 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 4-28-2022) 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.