Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 8, 2022

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report June 9, 2022.

White River
(updated 6-9-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is sitting well above normal power pool, currently at 688.10 feet msl and dropping slowly as the Army Corps Of Engineers begins to lower the lake level. The Bull Shoals Dam is running between 10,000-15,000 cfs (four to five units) all day. Drift-fishing is the name of the game on high water and has allowed for an excellent catch of rainbows and a good number of browns. “The brown bite has been a little off this past week, not unexpected, as the trout acclimate to the swifter water. That being said, we've still seen a good number in the 19- to 22-inch range, especially if you can lay your hands on some soft-shell crawdads. The rainbow catch seems to be a little heavier since the start of increased water levels, maybe due to the greater food sources.”
The return of the White River Zig Jigs made a hit last week in the lower water, but probably won't produce much action for a while. You've got time to locate some and save them for our next low water event. One to two units (3,000 to 6,000 cfs) is good for jigging.
“Stock up on red wrigglers and night crawlers – they're doing very well for us right now, ensuring a good catch of the fatter rainbows. I suggest throwing some brighter baits in this high water, casting some white or chartreuse egg baits (PowerBait or X-Factor) toward the bank a little out of the current. Add some weight to get your baits deeper. I expect to hear about some good action from larger stick baits, too. Come in with your success stories with 4-, 5- or even 9-inch lures.
“Drifting the White before the summer heat sets in is a great way to spend the day. Stay safe. It's a good idea to keep your life jacket on while on a boat.”

(updated 6-9-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had couple of rain events that combined for half an inch in Cotter, warm temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 foot to rest at 26.3 feet above normal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 6.7feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 5 feet above power pool and 9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 6.8 feet above power pool or 1.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 16.2 feet above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had a bit 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 well 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 Wildcat Shoals. “We have had heavier flows. 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 San Juan worm with an orange egg.”
John also said, “I frequently write about the trials and tribulations of being a fly-fishing guide on the White River and Norfork tailwater. Sometimes you have a really good day and you remember why you ever took up this life choice to begin with. Such a day was last Saturday. It did not start out that way.
“I was scheduled to take Russ, a banker from Missouri, and his wife, Julie, a nurse, fishing on Thursday. They were camping at White River Campgrounds, across the river from Cotter. The weather forecast called for significant rain. Russ called and said that he and Julie were not interested in fishing in the rain. I understood. While I will fish in the rain if my clients want to, it is not my favorite thing. Drying everything out is a pain. We rescheduled for Saturday. Luckily I was available then. As predicted, it rained almost all day Thursday.
“Saturday was a near-perfect day. The sky was clear and the sun was shining. The temperature was in the low 70s when we started, with light wind. The water was low but there was enough flow for a good long drift. What wind that we had was blowing in the right direction and helped us drift easily. The river was gin clear and we could easily see the bottom. I saw a bald eagle fly overhead. Due to my Native American heritage, that is always a good omen to me.
“I had Russ sit up front. He was more experienced and not as likely to need my assistance. Meanwhile, Julie sat in the rear of the boat. She was not as advanced so I wanted to be able to coach her a bit. We began fishing and Russ landed a nice one on the first drift. We were off to the races.
“Julie hooked one but lost it. Russ landed another. Julie hooked up again, but again she lost it. I coached her a bit and she soon landed a nice fat rainbow. The skunk was out of the boat. We continued on and Julie was landing a good percentage of her hooked trout. She was definitely getting the feel of it. Russ was on fire. He landed trout after trout. The fishing turned out to be outstanding.
“To make things even better, these folks were easy to get along with. We had a lot in common, so the conversations were interesting to say the least. I had worked in banking for several years, and my wife’s sister and mother had been nurses.
“I didn’t really want the day to end but I had a date with a lawnmower. We were having company over that evening for a lawn party and the grass was high. At noon, we ended the half-day and went our separate ways. It had been of my best days ever. Good weather, good water and good clients – does it get better than this?”

(updated 6-2-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said that late last week the river remained high and muddy from the rains in the Buffalo River Valley. By Saturday the water cleared and was between 6-7 feet deep. Fishing was great during the holiday weekend with many 15-inch-plus rainbow trout caught and several brown trout that topped 18 inches. A couple of boats reported hooking some 5-pound-plus rainbows or brown trout that either broke the line or threw the hook. One angler caught and released an 8-pound brown trout. The trout were hungry and weren’t too picky. Drift-fishing with Power Eggs with shrimp or worms or corn performed well. Rapala Countdowns caught some of the bigger trout. Tuesday and Wednesday, throwing gold-colored spoons on the gravel bars worked well as well as drift-fishing with sculpins. On Tuesday the Norfork Hatchery with the Arkansas Game and Fish used a pontoon raft to stock over 2,200 rainbow trout between the Calico Rock boat ramp and the Optimus boat ramp.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 688.10 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 662.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 16,925 cfs, and releases have been heavy this week. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 921.50 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.58 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 9,442 cfs.

(updated 6-2-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday morning that limited parking at the boat dock can be an issue, so plan ahead. The lake continues to rise, now at 688 feet msl (or 29 feet high and 7 feet from the top of the lake). Despite the high water, the lake is really clear in the main portion. Bigger creeks have stain. The water temperature is around 70 degrees. Watch for debris on calm days.
Bass fishing has been up and down with the weather fronts. The 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 and saddle 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. The flipping bite is tougher as the water came up, so deep bushes, standing timber and laydowns are where to focus. Use a Beaver/Senko/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 572.85 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.75 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Total outflow from Norfork Dam at 2 p.m. Thursday was 5,568 cfs.

(updated 6-9-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 572.95 feet msl and has dropped a half-inch in the last 24 hours with about eight hours of running both generators. This is the first drop in months and is good news. The White River at Newport is at 14.11 feet and the surface water is 76-77 degrees and rising and the water is clear. Crappie fishing is getting better back in the creeks near wood in about 25 feet of water if you can find it. Most brushpiles are too deep at this time. Fish of several species are on the old shoreline before the rise in 20-25 feet of water back in the creeks. A few walleye are on main lake points or just around them in 20-22 feet of water near the bottom and hitting the three-eighth-ounce jigging spoon. More are around Cranfield and Robinson Islands at the same depth. Trollers are dragging live bait and umbrellas in open water on shad and catching a few stripers and bass. Big bluegill are around willows on both the main lake and in creeks on crickets and small spoons. You can catch fish off docks at this time if they are at the right depth, which is from 20-35 feet of water. Catfishing has slowed but a few are still being caught on live bluegill on both limb lines and throw lines. The topwater bite has slowed way down. Fishing overall is better this week and most people are catching fish.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 6-9-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 16.2 feet above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had a bit 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 well above power pool. With the current lake levels, expect some wadable water on the Norfork to prevent downstream flooding.
There has been some wadable water on the Norfork during the day and it fished poorly. 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. School is out and the creek is busy. 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 6-9-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are navigable. 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.