Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 18, 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 19, 2022.

White River
(updated 5-19-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the lakes in the White River watershed – Beaver, Table Rock and Bull Shoals – remain very high. You might expect extensive discharge from the dam to the Bull Shoals tailwaters, but even with the rains this past week the releases in the White River below Bull Shoals have been relatively gentle during the day at around 1.5 units (5,000 cfs). Bull Shoals Lake elevation has reached 685.25 feet msl and continues to rise The dam is doing its job: holding back water to alleviate flooding downstream.
“We'll enjoy the lower flows while they last, but don't be surprised to see consistent high water in the weeks ahead. What's that say about the fishing? It's good news. Trout fishing on high water is all about drifting big baits to lure those big (and growing) fish. River minnows and sculpins drifted near the grassy banks will bring the browns out of hiding and every kind of jerkbait is a worthy agent in your search for the biggest trout to reach your personal best. We favor the Rapala Rainbow Countdowns, the 5 or 7.”
The rainbows have been biting at just about any worm, especially when a bubblegum pink or fluorescent orange worm is used in conjunction with shrimp; but don't discount the live worms – a red wiggler or the old-time nightcrawler – for catching great rainbows. Seems the copper-colored spoons and spinners are the baits to cast this time of year if that's your style of fishing. “There have been some hefty hatches giving our fly anglers a run; try the super midge and some sparkling caddis flies. Whatever form your fishing takes, bring it to the river and enjoy Arkansas, our Natural State. ‘Fish Natural’!”

(updated 5-19-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said river conditions have been all over the place this last week. The rains we received caused the river to become muddy. By the time the river started clearing we received more rain and the river was muddy again. With the muddy river conditions the fishing has been difficult at best. Those who have done well had success with using inline spinners with Power Eggs and a worm or corn on the end. Others had limited success using bright color Rooster Tails, spoons or Rapala Countdowns (gold or silver). Last Thursday 1,000 rainbow trout and again this Wednesday another 2,200 rainbow trout were stocked at the Calico Rock boat ramp. By the end of the day Wednesday the river was improving, and with over 3,000 trout stocked in the last week, fishing should be good the next few days.

(updated 5-19-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had just a trace of rainfall in Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 4.3 feet to rest at 22.6 feet above power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 10.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 3.1 feet to rest at 7.8 feet above power pool and 6.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 6.1 foot to rest at 7.1 feet above power pool or 1.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 14.6 feet above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 10.4 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. All 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 to prevent downstream flooding
On the White, the hot spot has been the Narrows. 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 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 added, “Last week I had a three-day trip with two clients from Houston. They had booked several months ago. As the trip got closer they had checked the weather and got concerned. A lot of heavy rain was forecast every day they had scheduled. They were concerned that they would travel far just to sit in a boat and get rained on. They emailed me with their concerns.
“I replied that the forecast was for a 45-50% chance every day. I thought we could get in some decent fishing despite the weather. I told them a guided trip with me was a rain or shine event but that I did not fish when there was lightning about. I always remember that NASA uses graphite (the same material used to construct most fly rods) for lightning rods.
“The day before they arrived it rained all day. It was raining as I went to pick them up at Rim Shoals the first day. The water there was badly stained. The river was the color of café au lait (coffee with milk). Basically the river was blown out and not fishable there. The best thing to do, when this happens, is to head upstream until you find clear water. I knew that the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam would be clear. The water coming through the dam was clear and there are no major side creeks pumping runoff into the river there. It quit raining fairly early and we did well catching some big rainbows.
“The next day the water cleared at Rim and we fished there. We caught several nice trout. We went to the cabin my clients were staying at Rim Shoals and took a late lunch. While we were in there, it began to rain. We heard thunder and then saw a heavy lightning strike nearby. We decided to quit early. I loaded the boat and headed home in heavy rain. It rained all night and there was a lot of lightning that woke me up around 2:30 a.m.
“It was raining as I left the house the next day. I picked them up at Rim Shoals. Once again the water was severely stained. We headed to the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals. The water was clear and inviting. It quit raining but we kept our rain suits on. Once again, we caught some big fish. We had a big 27-inch rainbow to the boat before it slipped the hook. We had another big fish break off.
“About 3 p.m. I thought I heard thunder. I pulled out my iPhone and checked the weather. There was a big storm headed our way. The thunder got heavier and we headed in. We got the boat out of the water as the bottom dropped out. It rained heavily all of the way home.
“We stayed the course and fished despite the weather forecast. We ended up catching some nice trout.”

(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 681.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 662.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 7,244 cfs, though flow has reached about 16,000 cfs on Wednesday midday. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 923.10 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.58 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 21,018 cfs.

(updated 5-19-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday afternoon that limited parking at the boat dock can be an issue, so plan ahead. Despite the high water, the lake is really clear in the main portion. Bigger creeks have stain. The water temperature is 73 degrees, give or take. The lake level Wednesday was about 685 feet, or 26 feet above normal level.
Bass fishing has been up and down of late. The sunfish are spawning. There has been a shad spawn the last couple of mornings. Use a 2.8 Keitech on a quarter-ounce ball head, or swim a grub in shad colors. Target windy lake secondary points and humps. Don’t pass up shad way out on the points, and use topwater, an LC Gunfish or a Zara Spook. For sunny days, dragging a Jewel Special Ops Football Jig in green-pumpkin orange, a Ned rig with green pumpkin variations, and keep the boat out around 30 feet.
A lot of fish are on the old shoreline on secondary points and channel swings. Bloody tails are starting to show up in the summer areas. Submerged roads, flooded parking lots and picnic tables now underwater are holding fish. Use a floating worm or a drop-shot around docks.
The flipping bite is tougher as the water comes up, so around the deep bushes, the standing timber or laydowns, use Beaver/Senkos/a small jig. If you find warm, dirty, milky water, use a bright spinnerbait, a Chatterbait, Whopper Plopper or square bill. 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 571.59 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 5-19-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 571.43 feet msl and, as of this report, has risen 1 inch in the last 24 hours with about 10 hours of running one generator. The White River at Newport is 20.90 feet and dropping and the surface water temperature is in the mid-70s and the water is clear on the main lake and stained in the creeks. The topwater bite in the early morning just before sunrise is the best bite. It lasts longer on cloudy days than on sunny, clear ones. Temperate bass and black bass are coming up in the windblown creeks on shallow shad. Catfishing is getting better as the full moon wanes, and channels and blues are picking up while flatheads are slowing. “I did catch a nice flathead (Tuesday) but was catching several every day before then. Big bluegills are back under docks and in shallow cover like willows and are hitting small spoons and live worms and crickets.
“Some bass are on the old shoreline in 18-20 feet of water partway back in creeks on soft plastics and floating worms.
“Fishing overall is good. On clear sunny days get out early, fish until about 10 a.m., take the middle of the day off, and go out about 5 p.m. and fish until sunset. On cloudy days you can fish all day. Some temperate bass have moved into deep water and can be caught on the jigging spoon. Walleye are around Cranfield Island and Robinson Island and can be caught bottom-bouncing Lindy Rigs with live nightcrawlers and trolling small crankbaits and are 17-22 feet near the bottom.
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 5-19-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 14.6 feet above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 10.4 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. All 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 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 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.
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 5-19-2022) 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 are 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.