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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 29, 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 30, 2022.

White River
(updated 6-30-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “It might be easy to take for granted the beauty of our Arkansas Ozarks when we get to live it every day, but this past week has been so exceptionally gorgeous that everybody is taking a few extra minutes to admire the God-given beauty and say a little prayer of thanks. The July and August heat will sneak in, I'm sure, but for right now we remain in awe of our Natural State.”
They report the White River is flowing very fast and deep through the north-central Arkansas Ozarks, so be prepared to add weight to your line, go deep and get ready for a fight because the trout are healthy and fighting. Bull Shoals Dam is continuing heavy releases from the lake; four or more generators – 14,000 to 17,000 cfs – has been the daily norm with the lake level currently at 682.51 feet msl and dropping. It's not uncommon with round-the-clock heavy releases to find the rainbow bite has slowed, but it's also not uncommon to observe the quality of the catch has improved.
Some say the browns are getting lazy, though; they don't have to search for food because it's coming right at them all the time from banks saturated with the high water. So cast toward the shore to pull them in: Place your bait right in front of them and flash it around. If you're using stick baits, lures or spinners make sure they are bright and carry some weight. They’ve hooked many browns on worms (plastic and live) and even nabbed a few with white PowerBait. “One of our favorite fly guides mentioned that we're blessed with good dry-fly action most any time on this river when the sun is shining and warming the topwater.
“There's a lot of sunshine reflecting off the water, so don't forget the sun screen, but don't mix your sunscreen with your bait/tackle. Trout do not like sunscreen. Keep yourself protected but continue to lure in the trout.”

(updated 6-30-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had no rain, brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 2.3 feet to rest at 21.1 feet above normal summer power pool of 661.6 feet msl. This is 11.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 1 foot to rest at 0.2 foot below power pool and 14.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 6.3 feet above power pool or 2.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water of late. Norfork Lake fell 1.6 feet to rest at 12.5 feet above power pool of 556.4 feet msl and 11.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had no wadable water during the day. 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 high water all summer.
On the White, the hot spot has been White Hole. “We have had much heavier flows and some sulphur hatches. 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,” he said.
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 also says, “Some of our best dry fly-fishing is provided by the sulphurs, a good-sized mayfly that comes off every June. These aquatic insects are a gorgeous yellow-orange color and are generally a size 14, which is a pretty large insect for around here. This makes them easy to see and identify. They are coming off now!
“We all like to fish dry flies. This is when the trout key onto hatching insects. The insects rise to the top of the water column. There they emerge through the nymphal husk, break through the surface of the water and drift downstream until their wings dry and then fly off. During this process, they are vulnerable to being eaten by hungry trout. The trout rise to the surface of the water and sip them.
“Casting a dry fly and imitating this drag-free drift of the aquatic insects is a challenging way to fish. It is also rewarding. Casting to rising trout and watching them take the fly really gets the adrenaline pumping. The hook set is everything. You have to let the trout close its mouth before you set the hook. It is too easy to rush this process and pull the fly from the fish’s mouth.
“We generally do this on lower water as it is not likely that the trout will rise through 6-8 feet of heavy current to key in on hatching insects. On the White River, we are currently getting generation of about 17,000 cfs, or the equivalent of six full generators. You would think that this is way too much water to fish dry flies, but there has been some great dry fly-fishing on grass beds near the bank. I have had reports of some fantastic dry fishing for large trout.
“My favorite fly for this is my brother Dan’s sulphur dry fly. It is a yellow-orange parachute fly. The parachute is a low floater, which makes it fish well on the quieter water near the bank as it is looks more realistic. The parachute wing in white makes it easy to see. If you cannot see a dry fly, you cannot fish it. You must see the take in order to properly set the hook. My rod of choice is my 30-year-old Sage light line 9-foot 4-weight. It has a sensitive tip to protect light tippets and it casts dry flies like a dream.
“I like to fish this fly pretty close to the rising trout, particularly on heavy water. The water in the center of the river will be much faster than the flows near the bank. A long cast will require a lot of mending to achieve a drag-free drift. It will make it harder to set the hook with a lot of line out due to slack in the line.
“There can be dry fly-fishing on high water. Carry the necessary flies and be ready to fish them.”

(updated 6-30-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said Bull Shoals Dam continues to keep all eight generators running, and Norfork Dam has been running two generators during the day and dropping down to one generator at night. As a result we are seeing water levels averaging between 9-10 feet. The water remains clear and cold. Inline spinners with Power Eggs with shrimp, corn or worms have worked well this week. With the higher water you might need to add an extra sinker or larger sinker to get the bait to the bottom. Sculpin continues to work well for larger rainbows and brown trout. Spoons worked well on the shallower shoals with deep-diving crankbaits in the deeper water. There have been several 15-inch-plus rainbows caught plus some nice 17-inch-plus brown trout.
On Tuesday there were 747 rainbows stocked at the Calico Rock boat ramp, and on Wednesday the AGFC used a pontoon raft to release 6,600 rainbow trout between Calico Rock to Sylamore Creek. By this weekend those fish should be acclimated to their new surroundings and hungry.
“We are seeing a lot more kayaks, rafts and canoes. Be aware of your surroundings and take care of each other on the river. If you are in a boat, slow down as you approach the kayakers, etc. We hope everyone enjoys the Fourth of July weekend and be safe while celebrating our nation’s 246th birthday.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 681.97 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.50 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam at noon Thursday was 17,931 cfs, and releases have been constant this week. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.72 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.58 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 1,455 cfs.

(updated 6-30-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday afternoon that the lake has dropped down to 682 feet msl (23 feet above normal pool) and limited parking can still be an issue there so plan ahead. “The lake is really clear towards the main part; the back of bigger creeks have stain,” he said.
Surface temperature is about 85 degrees.
He says its best to get up early and go for the topwater bite. Target windy main lake secondary points, especially when the Corps of Engineers is generating water at the dam. Shad is now way out on the points. Fish around those spots with a topwater, an LC Gunfish, or wake baits. Then the topwater slows, and it’s time for a half-ounce flutter spoon or drop-shot the fish. In 20-40 feet depth over 50-70 feet, and in the channel swings around bluffs and ledges, use suspenders around many of those spots.
The creek fish have pulled back with the water coming down. The topwater bite will end when the sun starts getting high. Del is then hopping a Jewel Special Ops and football jig in green pumpkin orange, a Ned rig in green pumpkin variations. Keep the boat out around 30 feet. A lot of fish are on the old shoreline. Also around the channel swings, standing timber, ledges and laydowns, try a Beaver/a big worm/an Ole Monster in green pumpkin, red, red shad or plum. And, as always, fish the conditions.
Del has a new YouTube video up. Visit his 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 568.02 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.25 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Total outflow from Norfork Dam at noon Thursday was 5,815 cfs, releases over the past 36 hours have ranged from 2,858 to 5,818 cfs.

(updated 6-30-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday morning that the lake level was 568.35 feet msl and had dropped 2.5 inches in the last 24 hours with one generator running since Tuesday night. The White River at Newport is 13.93 feet and the Army Corps of Engineers has been keeping it around 14 feet for several weeks. The level had dropped a little less than 5 feet since its high on June 5. Surface water temperature is 85 degrees and has dropped a couple of degrees with the cooler weather. The water looks clear from the surface but gets cloudy after about 12 feet with a mudline down to the thermocline at about 20 feet. The water is cold at 25 feet and is clear again there.
The stripers are going deep and looking for the oxygen bubble and are on the bottom from 60-80 feet and are hitting the jigging spoon dropped on their head. Some walleye are with them, but several more walleye are on main lake points and around them in 20-26 feet of water also near the bottom. Trollers are dragging crankbaits bumping bottom in 20 feet of water. There are still some bass coming up in the early mornings but are mostly small. And several Kentucky bass are in 16-20 feet partway back in the creeks biting creature baits and plastic worms in the late evening with some smallmouth with them.
Some crappie are in the backs of creeks on wood in 25 feet of water and several more are under docks in the shade and some big bluegill are with them. Catfish are slow with the dropping water level but some are being caught on jugs drop-shotted and baited with live bluegill in about 20 feet just outside the buckbrush. “The water is dropping too fast for limb lines. I am seeing some schools of white bass just inside main lake points at 20 feet suspended, but they are not very big. The lake is still high, but almost all of the debris has stuck to the shore and the lake in general is in good condition for boating, swimming and fishing.”
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 6-30-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.6 feet to rest at 12.5 feet above power pool of 556.4 feet msl and 11.1 feet below the top of flood pool. There has been no wadable water on the Norfork 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 eighteen 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 6-30-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low. 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.