Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 25, 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 26, 2022.

White River
(updated 5-26-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the lakes in the White River watershed are full and are being attentively managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. Bull Shoals Lake is hovering at 687.6 feet msl, just 8 feet from the top of flood pool (695.00 feet msl) as we head into a week of predicted sunshine -- or at least no rain. Soon we'll begin the slow and steady release of lake waters into the White River below Bull Shoals Dam, so get out your weighted line, heavier sinkers and big, gutsy stick baits because they'll be your ticket to successful trout catching.
This week we continued trolling with the blue and silver spoons (Cleos or the hammered Thomas Buoyants); the rainbows haven't turned away from them yet. The hatches we saw last week which sated the trout and made it really tough to get their attention in the afternoon hours have slowed down this week with the rain and cooler temps. But we'll see more of those bugs as we warm up this coming week, so the morning hours are going to be more successful than later in the day.
The best brown bite here in the Cotter area has been with slimy sculpins. The best ones are the blue gummers as the old-timers call them -- turquoise-colored bellies. Look for them under rocks while the water is low and generation slow.
Not much longer before the school year is finished. Bring your kids or grandkids to the river and let them learn about The Natural State of things. Arkansas is the place to teach them. See you at the river.

(updated 5-26-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said this has been another week of varied river conditions. Thursday and Friday the river began clearing after the storms of last week. The river conditions were good Saturday morning with several people catching their limits of fish. The storms on Saturday once again caused the Buffalo River to rise, resulting in muddying up the White River at Calico Rock on Sunday and Monday. On Tuesday and Wednesday the river conditions were much improved. The Buffalo River rose again after the storms Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning. The resulting muddy water should arrive in Calico Rock by Thursday. If generation at Bulls Shoal Dam remains at least three generators running, the muddy water should be washed away for the holiday weekend. Recommended baits for this weekend are a mix of white and orange Power Eggs or sunrise Power Eggs. Add an inline spinner for additional flash to gain the trout’s attention. If desired, add a piece of shrimp or redworm. The use of a dead sculpin may entice the larger trout to bite. "Stay safe this holiday weekend. Remember the purpose of Memorial Day is to remember our military personnel who lost their life in the service of our country."

(updated 5-26-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had just a trace of rain in Cotter, warm temperatures and heavy wind. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 2.8 feet to rest at 25.4 feet above power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 7.6 feet below the top of the flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lakle fell 3.5 feet to rest at 4.1 feet above power pool and 10.2 feet below the top of the flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 6.9 feet above power pool or 1.7 feet below the top of the flood pool. The White River had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 2.4 feet to rest at 15.3 feet above power pool of 556.73 and 8 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had less wadable water.
The water level for the top of normal conservation pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the system are now above power pool. With the current lake levels, we can expect some wadable water on the Norfork tailwater as the Corps of Engineers works to prevent downstream flooding.
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 nad silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold-ribbed hare's ear and sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a prince nymph with a size 18 ruby midge.

(updated 5-26-2022) 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 687.35 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 662.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 4,873 cfs, with a high in the past 24 hours of 6,910 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 921.39 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.58 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 9,437 cfs.

(updated 5-26-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday afternoon that with Bull Shoals Lake at its current level and water being up, 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 part. The backs of bigger creeks have stain. The water temperature dropped down to around 68 degrees this week. The lake level Wednesday was about 687 feet, or 28 feet above normal level. Watch for debris on calm days.
Bass fishing has been up and down of late. Shad have spread out. Use a 2.8 Keitech on a quarter-ounce ball head, or swim a grub in shad colors. Target windy main lake secondary points, saddles and humps. Don’t pass up shad way out on the points. Use topwater, 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. The flipping bite is tougher as the water came up; check out deep bushes, standing timber or laydowns. Use Beaver/Senkos/a small jig. If you find warm, dirty 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 572.25 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 was 2,120 cfs.

(updated 5-26-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 572.12 feet msl and has risen 1.2 inches in the last 24 hours (through Wednesday) with one generator running for about 10 hours. We received about three-quarters of an inch of rain (Tuesday ) and (Tuesday) night and it has been cloudy, rainy and cool for the last three days. The surface water temperature has dropped from about 77 degrees to 71 degrees in the last week. The main lake water is very clear and you can see your lure down at least 15 feet on the main lake, but it is stained in the creeks with only a few feet of visibility but clear near the shore. The thermocline has formed and is at 18 feet as is the old shoreline before the lake started rising and there are a lot of fish at this depth, especially in the creeks, but walleye are on main lake points just inside the brushpiles near the bottom. Bass are coming up most days and all day long on cloudy rainy ones on shad, and some white bass are with them. Catfishing is excellent, with flatheads slowing a bit but blues and channels picking nicely. They really like live bluegill on limb lines and short throw lines. Crappie are still biting but are scattered with so much cover and bait available. Some stripers have moved into deeper water and live bait draggers are catching a few. Bluegill are biting on crickets and small spoons under docks and on shallow willow bunches.
Overall the lake is in good condition and fishing is fair to good and most species are biting.
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 5-26-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 2.4 feet to rest at 15.3 feet above power pool of 556.73 and 8 feet below the top of the flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had less wadable water.
The water level for the top of normal conservation pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the sy stem are now above power pool. With the current lake levels, we can expect some wadable water on the Norfork tailwater as the Corps of Engineers works to prevent downstream flooding. There has been some wadable water on the Norfork during the day and it has fished moderately. The most productive flies have been small midge patters 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 5-26-2022) 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 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.