Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 15, 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 16, 2022


White River

(updated 6-16-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said summer is officially here in temperature, as things are getting hot not only weather-wise, but also in terms of fishing. The river level has been consistently high for the past week, so it's been a great time to pull up to a favorite brown trout spot and throw out a minnow or sculpin. The rainbow bite has been excellent with many 13- to 14-inch rainbows being brought to the boat daily. The pink worm has been successful – combine that with frozen shrimp for great results.
Releases from Bull Shoals Dam have been heavy and round-the-clock with continual output of four or more generators, 14,000 to 17,000 cfs all day. The lake at this writing is sitting at 687.05 feet msl and slowly dropping. All this high water provides lots of places for trout to run and hide in (and grow big and feisty) and has tested the skills of the anglers. Look for clear water to drift, cast toward the bank and you'll most often pull in a rainbow in no time. Get their attention with fluorescent, bright baits and flashy silver spoons.

Plenty of sunshine requires plenty of sunscreen. Come prepared, but make sure to keep the sunscreen away from your fishing gear and baits. Seems that sunscreen not only repels harmful rays from above, but repels fish as well. Clean your hands of sunscreen before handling rods, reels and baits and don't use a spray in the boat. “Be prepared for the heat and join us on the White River for a some great fishing – regardless of water releases from the dam.”

(updated 6-16-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a couple of minor rain events that combined for just a trace in Cotter, brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.1 feet to rest at 25.2 feet above power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 7.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 1.8 feet to rest at 3.2 feet above power pool and 10.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 6.3 feet above power pool or 1.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 15.5 feet above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 7.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had much less wadable water lately.

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 the Wildcat Shoals,” John said. “We have had much 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 a San Juan worm with an orange egg.”

John also discussed an angling situation to which most of us are familiar: “Anyone who has ever wet a hook knows that tangles are a bane on fishing in general and fly-fishing in particular. The dictionary definition of tangle is: a confused mass of something twisted together. When your line is tangled, the flies are not properly presented to the fish. Therefore, if your line is tangled you will not catch any fish.

“Tangles are a particular problem for the most popular method of fishing we employ around here: nymphing. When nymphing we attach a weighted fly, a split shot and a strike indicator to the leader. To further complicate things, most fly-fishing guides and other serious anglers then add a dropper fly suspended below the lead fly on a length of tippet. When things go bad, the flies, weight and strike indicator all move in different directions causing a serious tangle to form.

“The best way to deal with tangles is to avoid them. Most tangles are caused by rushing your back cast. This results in a tailing loop, which creates the likelihood of tangling. Slow down and give your line time to straighten out on your back cast. False casting a heavy nymph rig is also an invitation to disaster. The only time that you should false cast is when you are drying your fly, when fishing dry flies.
“Another way to prevent tangles is to use a Belgian cast. This is a continuous-motion cast. There is no stop between the back cast and the forward cast. By not stopping as you do in a normal cast, you are able to cast large weighted flies and complex rigs with ease. This is also an effective cast to use in windy conditions. I use the Belgian cast all the time I fish nymph rigs.
“Another cause of tangles is for the fish to slip the hook when the fish is being retrieved. The leader is sprung back to the rod. The flies go one way, the split shot another. The resulting tangle can be a mess. The bad thing is there is little you can do to prevent it. This is where I tangle my line.
“If you do tangle your line, the best way to untangle it is to remove the flies before you start. I know that this sounds counterintuitive but you can untangle the knot much more quickly without the flies in the mix. They just catch on the leader and tippet and make the tangle more complex to fix. It only takes a minute or two to tie the flies back on.
“Tangles are no fun and it always seems that when you are tangled, your fishing buddy is catching trout after trout and you are stuck with a mess in your hands. I often carry a spare rod already rigged for these occasions.”

(updated 6-16-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the Army Corps of Engineers has started releasing a lot of water out of both Bull Shoals Dam and Norfork Dam. “We are seeing Bull Shoals with eight generators running, and Norfork has two generators starting in the morning and stopping in the evening. We are seeing clear water and cold water (averaging in the mid-50-degree range) in Calico Rock with the river averaging around 8 feet in the morning from the Bull Shoals water and rising about 2 feet when the water from Norfork arrives. As a rule of thumb, plan on the water from Norfork to take five hours to reach Calico Rock and for 1 foot of depth for each generator they turn on.
“Fishing has been good in the mornings and just before the river rises from the Norfork Dam water. Watch the water levels, and if the water starts rising try to stay ahead of the rise. The trout start feeding as they sense the rising water. Once the water passes, the bite slows down for about an hour as the trout adjust to the new water. Drift-fishing with Power Eggs (sunrise or orange seems to work best) with worms, shrimp or corn has produced some nice limits of fish. Using sculpins has produced some very nice larger trout. If you prefer to throw lures, use larger Rapala Countdowns (either 9- or 11-inch) or deep-diving lures such as Rapala Shad Raps (purple or silver). The Shad Raps have produced several 18-inch-plus brown trout and an occasional smallmouth bass.
“With the abundant available food we are seeing some nice 15-inch-plus rainbows with fat bellies. While cleaning the fish we are finding the larger trout have a mixture of sculpins, crawdads and freshwater shrimp in their stomach. Over the last week there have been two stockings of rainbow trout at the Calico Rock boat ramp and other nearby locations both up and down river.
“With the hotter weather, remember to take precautions such as using sunscreen, drinking plenty of water and wearing a hat. Many people also keep a cooling rag to dip in the water and wrap around their neck.”

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 686.99 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 662.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam is 16,849 cfs, and releases have been constant this week. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 919.34 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.58 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 9,442 cfs.

(updated 6-16-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday morning that the high lake is still proving problematic for some folks trying to find a parking spot. The limited parking with water up in some of the lot can be an issue, so plan your visit head.
Despite the high water, Del says, the lake is “really clear in the main part.” The back of the bigger creeks have stain, he said. The water temperature is ranging about 79 degrees.
An early topwater bite has been key. Target windy, main lake secondary points, especially when the Army Corps of Engineers is generating water the dam. Use a topwater lure, an LC Gunfish or a Zara Spook. Or get in the back of feeder creeks that have shad. The creek fish have pulled back with the water dropping some. The topwater bite will end when the sun starts getting high. Slow-dragging a Jewel Special Ops football jig in green pumping orange or variations of that is a good way to fish. Keep your boat around 30 feet. A lot of fish are on the old shoreline. The flipping bite is tougher now as the submerged vegetation is starting to lose its leaves. Around standing timber and laydowns, use a Beaver or big worm, or small jigs. The drop-shot bite has been heating up. As always, 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 571.83 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 noon Thursday was 5,632 cfs.

(updated 6-16-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the Norfork Lake level is 572.98 feet msl as of Wednesday and has dropped 2⅓ inches in the last 24 hours with both generators running for about 16 hours. Water has dropped about a foot from its high of 572.98 feet msl on June 6. The White River at Newport is 14.22 feet and has been held steady for several days. The four-lake system is 59 percent full. Surface water temperature is in the low 80s and rising with the hot, dry weather. “We could use some rain. The water remains clear in both the creeks and main lake. There are several ways to catch Norfork lake fish at this time. First, the stripers are in open water on shad early before they go deep later in the morning and can be caught dragging live bait or umbrellas through schools of shad or dropping a spoon on their heads.
“The topwater bite is over for all practical purposes, but a few bass may come up early at or just before sunrise. Crappie are on wood back in the creeks in 26-28 feet of water and are biting on jigs cast past the structure and letting them sink into it. They are hitting on the drop near the bottom and can be caught throughout the day but you may have to have some slow periods before they bite.
“Catfishing has slowed with the dropping water level and the moon getting bigger, but a few are being caught. Some nice flatheads are coming with a few channels on throw lines partway back in the creeks in about 20-25 feet of water on live bluegill. The flatheads are the last to spawn and are ready. You can catch fish of different species casting plastic worms and other soft plastics to the shore and slowly retrieving near the bottom.
“I caught several white bass in about 23 feet of water (Tuesday) using this method in front of a brushpile, which was deeper. Look for walleye on main lake points or just around them in 20-26 feet of water near the bottom on spoons.

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

(updated 6-16-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no recent report. Lou typically provides daily fishing reports on the Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page. Check his page for the latest updates.

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 6-16-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 15.5 feet above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 7.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had much less wadable water lately.

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 little wadable water on the Norfork and it has 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 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 moderately. 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 6-16-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and 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.