Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 4, 2022

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 5, 2022.

White River

(updated 5-5-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said fishing the White River tailwater in Cotter this past week meant keeping your rain suit near and ensuring your tackle box contained rainbow-hued baits. It’s been a great week on the White – the water has been staying somewhat low and consistent, but that may soon change.
Bull Shoals Lake is continuing to rise as the spring rains in southwest Missouri and north-central Arkansas fill the reservoirs, but to alleviate conditions further downriver the Army Corps of Engineers and the Southwestern Power Administration are maintaining low-level releases. Bull Shoals Lake is at 672 feet msl. Water releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been nearly the same each day for almost a week now, so we might be tempted to believe a pattern is developing: a smooth, steady flow of about one generator, (3,300 cfs) all morning until around noon, when an extra generator is sent downstream for three or four hours.
“We'll enjoy the routine for as long as it is offered because the trout fishing has been phenomenal, the catches healthy and the cold water refreshing as the air temperatures begin to reach into the mid-80s. The fish have been snapping at a variety of baits. Shore anglers have been finding some luck with garlic-scented yellow and pink Power Eggs. Fishing with guides and from boats, the rainbows have been biting hard on pink worms and frozen shrimp. This strategy has also netted a few big browns, but the best way to catch a lunker has been with river minnows or lures with a silver flash to them. Another good bet is the Smithwick Rogue with orange belly and red eyes.
“Once the trout have had their fill of the staples, cast something new and flashy to pique their interest. Come visit and experience The Natural State in all its springtime glory. Drop in and say ‘Hey’ on your way to the river.”

(updated 5-5-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said that late last week and through Tuesday the water levels stabilized with clean water. Fishing was good with many different combinations of Power Eggs catching trout. The most popular Power Eggs were the Sunrise or a combination of two white garlic Power Eggs and two orange garlic Power Eggs. Fishing with sculpins resulted in some 17-inch-plus rainbows and almost-legal brown trout. There were also some big bites on the sculpin but they couldn’t get the fish in the boat. Some people had success fishing the shoals and throwing Kast-A-Way quarter-ounce gold spoons or gold-colored CD9 Rapala Countdowns. The rains Monday and into Tuesday resulted in muddy water and high water levels of almost 14 feet on Wednesday.
Looks like another round of rain on Thursday and no rain for at least a week after that. The lakes are filling up and we expect the water will clear up, but the river may stay at higher-than-normal levels as they let more water out of the lakes.

(updated 5-5-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had several rain events (combined for a bit less than an inch in Cotter), warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.7 feet to rest at 8.7 feet above power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 26.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 1 foot to rest at 0.1 foot above power pool and 15.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.9 foot to rest at 6.9 feet above power pool or 2.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 1.4 feet to rest at 6.9 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 18.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had more wadable water. Most of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. With the current lake levels, expect some wadable water on the Norfork tailwater.

On the White, the hot spot has been Cain Island. 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 a prince nymph with a size 18 ruby midge.

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, “On Monday I had a guide trip with Al, a gentleman from Dallas. We had all of our communication by text. We agreed to meet at the White Sands Cafe in Cotter at 8 a.m. The best water predicted for that day was a full day of wadable water on the Norfork. We had agreed to do that.
“When I sat down and talked to him at breakfast, I learned that he was a recent cancer survivor and that he thought that he could only wade for a couple of hours. It was time to change plans. We needed to be in the boat. It would be too low on the Norfork. On the White, the prediction called for three generators. I checked the website and found that the actual generation was a bit less than one full generator, a very nice level to fish. We opted for the White.
“My house is four blocks from the White Sands Cafe. We drove there and I hooked up my White River johnboat. I always keep it ready to go in case I get a last-minute trip. I only had to remove the boat cover to be ready to roll.
“We drove to Rim Shoals. The water was a bit stained from the previous night’s rain but the level was low and inviting. I had fished there the previous Friday with my wife, Lori, and had done well. I had the rod she used still rigged. I put it in the boat. I rigged Al’s rod the same way with a size 14 red fox squirrel nymph with a size 18 ruby midge dropper.
“I launched the boat and began drifting. We picked up a small rainbow on the first drift. On the next drift we hooked a big trout. It hugged the bottom and moved with a purpose. With the stained water it was difficult to see the trout. I finally got a glimpse of it and realized it was big brown. It fought well, but Al did everything right. I was finally able to net the big fish. It was a 24-inch male brown, a trophy. Al was stoked. We took a photo and gently released it.
“We continued fishing and landed a few more small rainbows. Then we hooked and landed a stout 19-inch female brown. We broke for lunch at noon and then returned to the river. The afternoon was a bit slower. We were able to catch a few rainbows but nothing like the browns. We quit about 4 p.m. and returned to Cotter.
“We had made a last-minute change and it had worked out well. Al was quite comfortable and had caught some nice trout. Life is good!”

(updated 5-5-2022) White River Trout Club (870-453-2424) says the river is high and muddy and they have had no reports lately.

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 673.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 660.73 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 4,327 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 919.08 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.18 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 14,764 cfs.

(updated 5-5-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock reported similar finishing patterns again this week to his recent reports. The lake level is only 12 feet high as of Thursday morning. The temperature is ranging 60 degrees give or take a degree. Bass fishing has been fair. The unstable weather has made the fishing go up and down for several weeks. Heavy rains have the lake on a steady rise. The shad have moved and spread out. Use a 2.8 Keitech on a quarter-ounce ball head or swim a grub 2.8 swimbait in shad colors. Target windy main lake secondary points on sunny days by dragging a Jewel football jig, a Carolina rig, shaky head or Ned rig in green pumpkin variations in 5-20 feet around secondary points and channel swings. The flipping bite is tougher as the water comes up, so around deep bushes use a Beaver/Senko/small jig. If you find warm and dirty water, use bright spinnerbaits, Chatterbait or a square bill. The bite hasn’t been typical of years’ past with these cooler temps, so 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 564.61 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 555.48 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Total outflow from Norfork Dam at 11 a.m. was 151 cfs, though daily flows have reached 6,000 cfs once each day this week, later in the day.

(updated 5-5-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday the lake level is 563.34 feet msl and has risen 6 inches in the last 24 hours with light generation. It has risen 2 feet since the 2½-inch rain very early this week. The creeks run hard for several hours, making the backs of creeks in the lake muddy, but it settled out very quickly and is clearing again rapidly. There has been very little effect on fishing except for the very extreme areas of the lake where locally heavy rain occurred. The surface water temperature is in the mid-60s and has been stable this week with cool temperatures.

The stripers, white bass and walleye have all finished spawning and the crappie are still doing it in a piecemeal fashion, adjusting to the water rise. Some being caught are still full of eggs. Black bass are in the middle of spawning with several finished, several on beds and several just staging. “I have still seen no fry under the dock but the gizzard shad are there. Several fish of different varieties are being caught casting small plastics on jigheads to the shore part way back in the creeks and working back to the boat slowly but without dragging them.
“There is a topwater bite for temperate bass and a few black bass that have spawned some mornings, especially after a warm night, but not nearly what it usually is. Trollers are catching some stripers on planer boards with live shiners. The flathead catfish are back in the creeks and prespawn feeding on live bait, but are not very big. The ones that I am catching are in the 3- to 4-pound range and look like they all came from the same class.
“Crappie fishing has improved in the last several days with high numbers being caught instead of just big ones.
“Overall fishing is fair to good with big walleye slowing a bit and crappie increasing. More bass will start coming up with the temperate bass as the spawn progresses. Keep a topwater lure handy all the time as fish could come up anytime and anywhere when you least expect it.”

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

(updated 5-5-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said the bite for most species has been good on Norfork. The never-ending changes in the weather have definitely affected the bite by not allowing it to become consistent. The fish keep moving around as their comfort zone changes. But with a little looking each day you will find the fish. The largemouth bite has been the best, with crappie, walleye and striped/hybrid bass all being a close second. Most of the species in our lake have spawned or are in the process except for bluegills. Catfish are close to their spawn cycle, if not already in it.

Largemouth bass have started their post-spawn feed. Topwater action can be found most early mornings and late evenings. “I have found them surface-feeding both back in creeks and coves as well as out on the main lake, especially near long brushy points. It’s prime time to start fishing with flukes and you can catch a lot of bass up inside of the newly sunken brush. Swimbaits and spinnerbaits are also working very well. If a cool front moves through, the fish do seem to move off the shoreline, but can be found nearby in 10-20 feet of water, and will move back into the brush very quickly.”
Crappie are also on their post-spawn feed. You will find them schooled up, roaming from brush to brush, out in 20-30 feet of water. A great way to catch these roaming fish is to troll Berkley Flicker Minnows in size 7. Some of these crappie are relating strictly to brush, and the brush is usually in less than 20 feet of water. A few crappie are still spawning and can be caught by casting to the shoreline with small grubs, a small swimbait or a Road Runner.
Striped/hybrid bass fishing has been good, but the fish seem to be continually moving. You need to find the shad and the stripers will be nearby. “One day I found them back in creeks close to the shoreline and the next day they were out on main lake points that have a lot of sunken buckbrush. The lake is getting more and more buckbrush under water due to recent rains and the rise in the water level. Threadfin shad are getting very close to spawning, if not already spawning, in some areas of the lake. If you can find spawning threadfin, the stripers will be close to them in very shallow water. Cast out a topwater bait, a swimbait or a Kastmaster and hang on.”

Walleye fishing has also been pretty good. “The best bite for me has been early in the morning before sunrise. Find an area with bait and cast a small 3.5-inch swimbait with a one-eighth- or quarter-ounce jighead. The walleye will be near the surface feeding on the shad. You will also find them in about 18-25 feet of water on the bottom. Vertical-jigging or dragging a crawler harness will pick up some fish. Or you can troll a hard crankbait that gets down to 15-18 feet to catch some nice ones. Back in the coves and creeks are good places to find walleye."

The surface water temperature has been keeping fairly consistent, ranging from 63 to 65 degrees. The water level is rising due to recent rains. The current level is 563.37 which is about 9 feet over normal seasonal pool. The water is fairly clear, but may stain up a bit with the most recent rains and runoff.

“If you are looking for almost daily fishing reports and to see what species are being caught, check out Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page. Give us a like and start seeing what is happening on the lake. Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 5-5-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 1.4 feet to rest at 6.9 feet above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 18.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had more wadable water. The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. Most of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. With the current lake levels, expect some wadable water on the Norfork tailwater.

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-head 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 at 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 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 5-5-2022) 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.