Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 20, 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 21, 2022.

White River
(updated 7-21-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is dropping pretty quickly – Wednesday it was just below 673 feet msl, which is only 12 feet above desired power pool. The water releases have begun to slow a little and the fishing gets better and better. Mornings on the river begin with an average of four generators operating (about 12,000 cfs), a near-perfect floating level. An experienced angler can anchor in his favorite places or can drift without hanging up too often. There are fewer places to safely wade fish but bank fishing is not out of the question. Both boaters and shore anglers can catch a creel full of rainbows with red wigglers or nightcrawlers. You'll see higher releases starting at about noon (six or seven units, 18,000-21,000 cfs) but not apparent in the Cotter region until 3 p.m. or later.
Best bait? This week the rainbows have been hitting the pink worm – Berkley or X-Factor – better when drift-fishing from a boat. A lot of anglers elect to use the "mouse tail" worm. It comes ready-made with a white egg at the top; thread it to cover the eye of your hook and dangle the rest of the imitator worm like you would a live red wiggler. Experiment with the orange Power Worm, too, to lure the more curious ones.
The average size of the rainbows here in the Ozark region of The Natural State seems to be increasing and they're still attracted by a flash of gold (Little Cleos, quarter-ounce for now) and the scent of shrimp. This is great water for stick baits. The glass blue Husky Jerk minnow is magic. The bigger brown trout have been looking for sculpins, red worms and shad.
Keep anglin' and stay aware of surroundings with the higher water. Prepare for the heat and come ready to catch some great trout on the White River.

(updated 7-21-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a bit over a quarter of an inch of rainfall in Cotter, brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 3 feet to rest at 12.6 feet above power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 21.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 1.5 feet below power pool and 15.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.1 feet to rest at 3.1 feet above power pool or 5.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water of late. Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 7.4 feet above power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 16.8 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. Most of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. With the current lake levels, expect high water all summer. The prediction for the lakes to reach power pool has been updated to Aug. 16; previously the expectation for power pool was Sept. 5.
On the White, the hot spot has been White Hole. “We have had less heavy 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 cerise San Juan worm with a girdle bug.”
In discussing this oppressive heat and dealing with the heat advisories, John says, “I wrote my usual column on Monday this week only to learn later in the day that I had missed the real story. The story is not what happened on my last guide trip. The story is the weather. This is the hottest summer that I can remember since I moved to Cotter 22 years ago. This was brought home when I learned that my friend Tommy Hagan suffered from heat exhaustion during his annual July Fourth parade and had to go to the emergency room. If that can happen in your front yard, it can definitely hit you on the river.
“We have had many days over 100 degrees with heat indexes as high as 115 degrees. Heat advisories are almost a daily affair. How do we protect ourselves in weather like this?
“The best way is to avoid them. The greatest heat is normally from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The best way is to be outside early. I suggest that my clients do a half-day in the morning. I like to start early when it is cool and quit about noon when it is starting to get hot. There is usually a heavy fog on the river that keeps things much cooler.
“When my brother-in-law, Larry, and I recently painted my house during this heat, we started at 6 a.m. and quit about 11 a.m., when we lost the shade. We then cleaned our paint brushes and headed for the White Sands Cafe for a late breakfast. Our wives kayaked or fished and usually joined us for breakfast. The rest of the day was spent inside an air conditioned house taking a shower, relaxing, reading or going to town for painting supplies for the next day. My yard work is done in much the same way.
“If you have to be outside in the heat, dress properly. Wear lightweight, loose-fitting clothing. I wear a long sleeve quick drying tropical shirt and similar long pants. I wear light wading shoes and light socks. I also wear sun gloves and a big straw cowboy hat. All of this saves my fair complexion (I am Scotch/Irish). On really hot days I also carry a large neckerchief that I can dip in the river water and wrap it around my neck, to cool me down.
“Stay hydrated. Drink plenty of fluids. Avoid alcohol. The best thing to drink is water. On hot days, I carry twice as much water as I usually do and keep extra bottles of water in my boat. At lunch, I always find a bit of shade. I also take breaks in the shade whenever my clients need to escape the heat.
“Take care. Excessive heat can kill you!”

(updated 7-21-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said fishing remained steady this week. Silver in-line spinners with sunrise or orange Power Eggs topped with shrimp worked the best the week to catch a nice limit of fish. Many anglers had success fishing the shallower gravel bars where the fish have moved onto to feed on crawfish, freshwater shrimp, snails and sculpins. Throwing quarter-ounce gold spoons and Rapala Countdowns worked well in the shallower water. Silver or River Shad-colored Shad Raps worked well fishing the deeper holes, resulting in some nice 18-inch-plus brown trout. There were two stockings at Calico Rock boat ramp resulting in over 3,500 trout stocked.
“We are seeing more fluctuation in water levels based on the SWPA generation schedule. Norfork Lake is still several feet above the conservation pool, so expect them to continue to alternate running one or two units. Bull Shoals is still about 10 feet above conservation pool and has been generating all eight units. It will be late August or early September before we expect river levels to drop significantly.
“There have been some small storms during the last week. It has been nice to get a little rain and see the grass green up some but it has also increased the humidity levels. Even with light to moderate activity, high humidity combined with high temperatures can take a toll. Drink plenty of water and watch out for each other.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 672.45 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam at 9 a.m. Thursday was 11,655 cfs, and releases have trailed off from earlier in the week. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.96 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 2,398 cfs.

(updated 7-21-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the lake down below 673 feet msl at last check, or around 11 feet above normal pool. The parking lots and boat ramps are starting to emerge. The surface water temperature is around 88 degrees. The fishing report is about the same as it’s been, he says, with typical summer patterns working. “There are always shallow fish but the heat and falling water has lots of bait over the old river,” he said. Target channel swings and ledges close to deep water. There is an early topwater bite; Del likes an LC Gunfish “for busting fish.” When topwater slows, a half-ounce flutter spoon in a shad pattern, small swim bait or drop-shot the fish. Fish are in 20-40 feet over 60-80 feet. Most of the shad are under 3 inches suspended in 20-25 feet. Almost all species are present under bigger shad balls. There appears to be fish throughout the top half of the water column.
The creek fish have pulled back with the water coming down. The topwater bite will slow when the sun starts getting high. Move out, hopping a Jewel Special Ops Football Jig in green pumpkin or orange, or a Ned rig in green pumpkin variations, and keep the boat out around 40 feet now. Channel swings, standing timber ledges and laydowns should be fished with a Beaver, a Big Worm Ol’ Monster in green-pumpkin, red or red shad, or plum. Those are working best. Always fish the conditions.
Del regularly posts new YouTube videos. 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 562.52 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 9 a.m. Thursday was 2,927 cfs, and releases over the past 36 hours have ranged 2,900-3,000.

(updated 7-21-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 562.74 feet msl and is dropping 2 inches a day with one generator running continuously, and they are holding the White River at Newport at 12 feet. The lake level is down a little over 10 feet from its high of 573 feet msl on June 6. “We received a half-inch of rain earlier this week. The surface water temperature is 90 degrees and the thermocline starts at about 24 feet and gets cold at 29 feet. The water appears clear from the surface, but there is a mud line from about 19 feet to over 30 feet. The water clears again at 33-35 feet and several fish are at the 35ft. level near the bottom including bass, walleye and small stripers.”
Main lake points are the best. White bass are a little shallower and suspended. Spoons are the best lure in the early morning from before sunrise to about 8 a.m. The larger stripers have moved out into deeper water in the main lake channels and are not biting. There are still some open water fish on shad also early from 30-60 feet suspended but are mostly small bass and smaller stripers.
Some brushpiles are coming into play with the dropping water, but not very many fish have moved on them yet except for bluegill. Bluegill are also biting off docks in the shade. Catfishing is not the best but some are being caught on jugs drop-shotted and baited with live bluegill and shiners. The night bite with black lights and salt craws is the best for larger bass. Not much fishing during the middle of the hot days and the best is early before and just after sunrise and after dark. The lake overall is in excellent condition for fishing, boating and swimming.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to www.blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 7-21-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.3 feet to rest at 7.4 feet above power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 16.8 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. Most of the lakes in the White River system are now above power pool. With the current lake levels, expect high water all summer. The prediction for the lakes to reach power pool has been updated to Aug. 16; previously the expectation for power pool was Sept. 5.
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 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 7-21-2022) 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.