Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 6, 2022

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 7, 2022.

White River
(updated 7-7-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “It's July, it's hot … but the river is cold, brisk, refreshing and inviting. When the early morning mist is on the river, it's a perfect time to lay a line on the water and wait for that first tug by a trout. Visit the White River in Arkansas Ozark country and take some time to slow down and enjoy summertime again like a kid.”
Bull Shoals Dam is continuing heavy releases from the lake; five or more generators – 15,000 to 16,000 cfs – has been the daily norm with the lake level currently at 679.00 feet msl and dropping quickly now.
Keep your bait closer to the bottom and expect the bite nearer the bank. This week the rainbows have been turning to lemon-lime-colored baits. Chartreuse might be close enough. That's the entomology for both fly- and spin-fishers. The old faithful baits – the red-gold Thomas Buoyant Spoon and orange-bellied jerkbaits (Smithwick 4½-inch blue or black backs) – were causing a splash this past week. Redworms have rewarded lots of anglers in the afternoon when the flow from the dam increases.
“Keep cool, stay hydrated, and keep on fishin'. See you on the river.”

(updated 7-7-2022) 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 3.6 feet to rest at 18.5 feet above power pool of 661.37 feet msl. This is 15.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below power pool and 14.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 5.4 feet above power pool or 3.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 10.7 feet above power pool of 556.12 feet msl and 13.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The tailwater 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. The prediction for the lakes to reach normal conservation pool is Sept 5.
On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. “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 cerise San Juan worm with a girdle bug.
John also said, “About two years ago I wrote about hearing from several of my fellow guides about fishing the girdle bug fly (which represents a stone fly, a large aquatic insect) on high water. I went to the fly shop and purchased one. I studied it and began to tie them. Over time I have changed the way that I tied them. This is the thing that I love about tying my own flies. By tying them myself I can easily modify them to better suit my needs. I think that I can usually tie a better fly than I can buy.
“The girdle bug that I bought had two strands of rubber sticking out of the copper bead head that imitated antennae. I found these difficult to deal with. It increased my tie time and I did not think that they increased my catch. My brother, Dan, taught me to tie flies and his principle rule of fly-tying was you have to tie them faster than you can lose them. The antennae at the hook eye also made it more difficult to tie the fly on to a tippet when rigging my rod. Therefore I eliminated the antennae. I do not miss them.
“Another problem that I had with girdle bugs is that they are large and heavy. While this is good for fishing high water, they have a tendency to hang up on the bottom. I needed to modify them to make them drift with the hook point up. I looked for a big jig hook but did not find any that appealed to me.
“My old fishing buddy, Bill Barksdale, came to the rescue. He is a talented fly-tyer and had previously solved the problem on his own. He essentially made his own jig hooks. He took a long shank streamer hook and bent it near the eye at about 45 degrees. This allowed for a hook point up drift when a big bead was attached to the hook near the eye. He gave me a few of them to study.
“I bought some streamer hooks and bent them with a pair of needle nose pliers. Yes, I broke a few but the technique worked and I was able to create a jig hook that suited my needs. Thank you, Bill!
“With these two modifications, I was able to begin tying girdle bugs in earnest. Yesterday I fished the Norfork with two beginners. We had high water. I tried several flies but settled on the Girdle bug. It performed flawlessly. It produced trout on high water and only grabbed the bottom twice and we were able to retrieve them.
“I was able to modify a fly with the help of a friend to make it better and produce more trout. Life is good!”

(updated 7-7-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the water in Bull Shoals Lake and Norfork Lake is dropping but still almost 20 feet above the normal conservation pool. Expect the high water of 8-10 feet to last into late August or early September. Fishing continues to be good while drift-fishing using inline spinners with bright-colored Power Eggs and small pieces of shrimp. With the fast current, adding an extra sinker will ensure the bait is down where the fish are. Artificial lures have worked well for brown trout. Cast toward the shoreline where the brown trout tend to hang out looking for an easy meal from something washing off the bank. Both the brown trout and bigger rainbows will move into the shallower shoals looking for sculpins and crawdads. Throwing gold-colored spoons or bright-colored Rapala Countdowns can result in landing a nice fish.
“This week we had two trout stockings for a total of 1,400 trout stocked at the Calico Rock boat ramp. The weather is going to stay hot; make sure to drink plenty of water, keep a cooling towel handy, and use sunscreen.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 678.43 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.50 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam at 2 p.m. Thursday was a heavy 21,332 cfs, and releases have been constant for the past couple of weeks. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.57 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 916.58 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 8,969 cfs.

(updated 6-30-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said 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 565.84 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 2 p.m. Thursday was 5,954 cfs, releases over the past 36 hours have ranged from 2,936 to 5,954 cfs.

(updated 7-7-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday morning the lake level is 566.23 feet msl and has dropped 3½ inches in the last 24 hours and a total of 7 feet from the high of 573 feet msl on June 6. “We received a quarter-inch of rain earlier this week and it was the first rain since June 6. They have been in a pattern of running both generators for about half the time and one generator the other half. The White River at Newport is being held stable at around 14 feet or a little less. The surface water temperature is 90 degrees with the very hot weather and this does not usually happen until early August. The water is cloudy with the holiday boat traffic churning it up especially on the clay banks.
“The best bite by far is the early morning temperate bass and walleye on the 1 ounce jigging spoon. They start off early about 5 a.m. in 35-50 feet of water near the bottom until about 8 a.m. and then go deeper to 60-80 feet and are with larger shad about 4 inches long. The best bite for bass is now after dark with a black light and fluorescent line and a salt craw. Other Kentucky bass are in the warm water in the evening in about 12-16 feet of water in the buckbrush. Crappie and bluegill are under docks in the shade with a few crappie still on wood in the backs of the creeks in 25 feet near the bottom. There can be a few fish coming up early but are mostly small bass.”
The lake is in excellent condition for swimming, boating and fishing. Fishing is about over at about 9 a.m. for the day and starts again in the late evening except for dock fishing.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 7-7-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 10.7 feet above power pool of 556.12 feet msl and 13.2 feet below the top of flood pool. 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. The prediction for the lakes to reach normal conservation pool is Sept 5.
There has been no wadable water on the Norfork tailwater 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 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 7-7-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low. With hot temperatures, the smallmouths are less 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.