Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 11, 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 123, 2022.

White River
(updated 5-12-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Celebrate! The sun is shining, no rain for several days and we're beginning to dry out. Bull Shoals tailwater has been very low – near minimum flow amounts (785 cfs) – during most of each day over the last week and fishing is good. Bait/spin fishers do best if they get on the water before the late afternoon hatch when the rainbows fill up on emerging bugs. It's a great time for topwater fly action! Water clarity at Cotter and upstream is back to normal (clear to excellent) after a few days of dinginess from creek runoff. Downriver is taking a little longer to improve due to Crooked Creek and Buffalo River drainage.
Late afternoon releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been heavy, up to five units (15,000 cfs) for a few hours before returning to minimum flow levels. The lake level is rising – 680.90 feet msl as the lakes above us are very full and Bull Shoals absorbing the high waters.
“The brown bite has switched back and forth between sculpins and minnows – keep both on hand if possible. You'll still catch some great browns with shad upriver near the dam. The rainbows have been filling up on the large insect hatch we've had this week, so luring them in with a strong scent is the best way to hook some nice fat trout. Garlic PowerBait has proved successful, with either the yellow or white being the best. Expect increased generation from Bull Shoals Dam in the coming days. Deeper water means more drift fishing, no wading opportunities – but the trout love lots of fresh, cold water and they are feisty and healthy when they get it. Stop in on your way to the river.”

(updated 5-12-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the rains last Thursday only added to the already muddy and high river conditions. By Friday the river once again topped 14 feet. Due to the muddy conditions, fishing in the main river was not feasible but moving into the creeks produced great results on Friday and Saturday. “By anchoring next to the bank and fishing with corn we saw a mix of 11- to 15-inch rainbow trout and saw some nice brown trout to include a fat 18-inch-plus brown trout. By Sunday afternoon the river started to clear up, but with both Bull Shoals and Norfolk Dams conducting reduced flows it is taking a while for the river to become clear. The last few days the river has averaged between 6-8 feet in depth.
“An additional challenge the last couple of days has been the amount of moss flowing downriver; fishing lines and bait quickly become covered in moss. In those conditions we recommend fishing the shallow gravel bars and shoals. Throw your bait upriver and let the current carry it to the deeper holes at the end of the shallows where the trout are gathering to feed. We are starting to see hotter temperatures make sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and water.”

(updated 5-12-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had several rain events (combined for 1.75 inches in Cotter), hot temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 11.5 feet to rest at 19 feet above power pool of 661.3 feet msl. This is 14.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 1.2 feet to rest at 11.1 feet above power pool and 3.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.4 feet to rest at 7.5 feet above power pool or 0.9 foot below the top of flood pool. The White has had some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 6.9 feet to rest at 13.7 feet above power pool of 556 feet and 11.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has 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. 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 White and Norfork to prevent downstream flooding.
On the White, the hot spot has been the catch-and-release section 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 a prince nymph with a size 18 ruby midge.
John also said, “I have often written about fishing with my wife, Lori. She is the love of my life and the best fishing partner ever. We have fished from the Smoky Mountains to Montana and a bunch of places in between. She and I share a love of fly-fishing and the outdoor life. It is our goal to fish together once a week. Her broken arm and my bout with cancer kept us off the stream for a while. Now we are both healthy. We have returned to the gym to get in shape and are fishing whenever possible with our busy schedule of guiding, writing, teaching fly-fishing at ASU-Mountain Home and showing dogs.
“We try to choose our days carefully. We want good weather with comfortable temperatures, low to moderate winds and no rain. Days like this have been hard to come by lately with our near constant rain (it is raining as I write this). We also look for lower flows on the river. Last week I caught the perfect day. The forecast was for a high temperature of 78 degrees, winds of 5-10 miles per hour and no rain. The river was quite low with flows of about 3,000 cfs, or a little less than one full generator.
As is our habit, I arrived at the river early while Lori was feeding and walking our two Labrador retrievers, Tilley and Ghillie. I rigged our rods and launched the boat. It should be noted that Lori and I had the same rod, reel, fly line, leader tippet, flies, lead shot and strike indicator.
She arrived about the time I got the motor started. She got in the boat and we motored upstream. Lori caught the first trout. I was happy for her. She caught the second trout. I was impressed. She caught the third fish. I was getting concerned. What was happening? About that time she hooked her fourth. Lori was one fish short of a limit and I had not had a bump yet.
“I was beginning to think that I was losing my touch. Was this karma for some grievous error in my past? Or is she just better than I am? Then I suddenly got a bite. I set the hook and reeled in a nice rainbow. I had broken the ice. I felt even better a couple of minutes later when I caught another. Things were starting to look up. I began to match her fish for fish. About lunch time the bite began to slow down. We decided to head home. In three hours, we had four doubles and managed to catch over 30 trout. I was redeemed!
“Sometimes it takes a minute to get going. Don’t worry about what the other angler is doing. Concentrate on your own game!”

(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 681.59 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.65 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 637 cfs, though flow has reached about 17,000 cfs once during the past two days and was at 10,000 cfs in the afternoon of May 9. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 926.90 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.40 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 21,485 cfs.

(updated 5-12-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday the lake level is at 680 feet msl, which is 22 feet high. Despite this high water, the lake is really clear in the main part. Bigger creeks have stain. The temperature is around 70 degrees. Bass fishing has been up and down. Heavy rains have the lake on a steady rise, almost a foot a day. The shad have moved and are spread out. If it’s cloudy and windy, use a 2.8 Keitech on a quarter-ounce ball head, or swim a grub or 2.8 swimbait in shad colors. Target windy main lake secondary points and humps. Don’t pass up the shad way out on the points, and use topwater LC Gunfish or Zara Spooks. For sunny days, dragging a Jewel Football Jig and Carolina-rigged tubs, a shaky head, Ned rig in green pump variations are the best presentations.
A lot of fish are holding on the old shoreline. Submerged roads, flooded parking lots and picnic tables are holding fish. Use a floating worm or drop-shot around docks. The flipping bite is tougher as the water comes up, so fish around deep bushes and laydowns, and use a Beaver/Senko/small jig. If you find warm, dirty water, use a bright spinnerbait, Chatterbait, Plopper or square bill.
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 570.19 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.40 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Total outflow from Norfork Dam at 9 a.m. Thursday was 0 cfs, though daily flows have reached 3,000 cfs once each day this week, later in the day.

(updated 5-12-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 569.93 feet msl and has risen steadily since last week's report with not much generation and a very high White River at Newport. The surface water temperature has reached the low 70s with the recent hot weather, and the water clarity remains good with some floating debris but not bad. Fishing has been pretty good with most species biting and in various stages of spawn. Some crappie are holding off spawn because of the steadily rising water and continuously having to move nests with several still full of eggs and are scattered all over the lake. Casting a 2-inch jig over and around brush is working well in both the backs of creeks and main lake. Bass are still about 50 percent spawned and are doing the same thing as crappie, but many are feeding on the bank in the creeks on crawdads and creek minnows. The topwater bite for temperate bass is happening every day now just before and after sunrise but not nearly as many fish as in previous years and not as big. Bluegill are staging for spawn and there are a lot of big ones. Flathead catfish are biting very well on live shiners and perch on throwlines set in deeper creek channels. This will not last much longer but the blues and channels will come in next.
The lake overall is in excellent condition and a good color for fishing and is clearing daily. Good time for overall fishing.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to 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 5-12-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 6.9 feet to rest at 13.7 feet above power pool of 556 feet and 11.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has 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. 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 tailwater to prevent downstream flooding.
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 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 5-12-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are a bit 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.