Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 7, 2022

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report September 8, 2022.

White River
(updated 9-8-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We're enjoying the last of summer here in Cotter with a week of respite from the heat. I'm even seeing a little change in the color of the leaves signaling a start to autumn.”
Bull Shoals Lake is 2 feet below power pool “so we're treated to very low water in the morning hours and varying amounts of generation in the afternoon, anywhere from 3,000 cfs to 18,000 cfs. The river level returns to near minimum flow amounts by dawn and remains that way until the mid-afternoon rise. Great for fishing from the river's banks and for wade fishing but requires extra attention on the part of john boat pilots.
“Once you get used to the lower river levels, you'll find that it makes for a great time to catch trout. Sunrise-colored Power Eggs have been a favorite this week for both shore fishers and anglers in boats. The browns continue to favor sculpins and soft-shell crawdads (keep the Rebel Wee Craw handy) with a rare but exciting bite on yellow PowerBait. A lightning bug fly (there are many variations, but look for one with red highlights) or the ruby midge have been the go-to flies. Grasshoppers are still prevalent in the area, so keep your hopper flies handy. Keep anglin' and we'll see you on the river.

(updated 9-8-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says fishing in the past week was great some days and not good on others. The thunderstorms Friday night muddied up the river Saturday and fishing was poor at best.By Sunday the water cleared and fishing was back to being great again. On Labor Day the fishing was tremendous; it wasn’t uncommon for a boat with two people fishing catching 40 or more fish before noon. “We saw a couple of days of low water flow resulting in depths as low as 3 feet. With the water that low, throwing quarter-ounce gold-colored spoons or Rapala Countdowns produced some nice fish. When the water was higher, drift-fishing using silver bladed in-line spinners with Power Eggs and shrimp proved the most effective.
“This week the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission used their pontoon raft to stock 4,800 fish between Calico Rock and Sylamore Creek. The advantage of when they use the raft is the fish are more widely dispersed.
“Stay safe and good fishing.”

(updated 8-25-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week they had a major rain event dropping 3½ inches at Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.8 foot below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 34.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at 4.9 feet below power pool and 18.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 1.4 feet below power pool or 10 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had more wadable water this past week. Norfork Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.5 feet below the top of flood pool. TheNorfork tailwater has had more wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the current lake levels, expect lower flows and more wadable water.
He said, “On the White, the hot spot has been the Rim Shoals. We have had lower flows in the morning that have been fished very well. 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 pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge dropper.”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 660.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam at noon Thursday was 2,840 cfs, with release on Wednesday between 2 and 6 p.m. of 13,000-18,300 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 912.00 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 1,245 cfs.

(updated 9-1-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake is almost back to normal water level. The constant generating has stopped. Water temperature is 84 degrees, give or take a degree. The typical summer patterns are working. The cooler nights have the shad starting to move. There are always shallow fish, especially with recent rains. Target channel swings, points and ledges close to deep water. Whopper Plopper, buzzbaits and topwater Lucky Craft Gunfish are working early in the day. When the topwater bite slows, use a half-ounce flutter spoon in a shad pattern and a small swimbait. Then move to a Mooneye Tater shad or drop-shot a Jewel Spoon.
Most of the shad are suspended at 30-35 feet. Almost all species are present. A lot of fish have moved up into the brushpiles and are coming into play with lowering water levels. The creek fish have pulled back with the water coming down. The morning topwater bite will slow down when the sun starts getting high. Move out with a Jewel Special Ops Football Jig in green pumpkin-orange variations and keep the boat out around 40 feet. Fishing is good around channel swings, standing timber, ledges and laydowns. Use Beaver or a Big Worm Ole Monster in green-pumpkin red or red shad plum. 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 555.40 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 206 cfs. Heavier generation was seen Wednesday (about 5,000 cfs) between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m.

(updated 9-8-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 555.46 feet msl and is dropping very slowly with minimum generation. The White River at Newport is 6.81 feet, so they are not letting out much in any of the area lakes. The surface water temperature is at 83 degrees and it is also dropping slowly with the shorter days and night time lows in the 60s. The creeks are still stained and the main lake is still a little cloudy from the boat traffic on the holiday but is clearing again quickly. The thermocline is at 30 feet. Crappie fishing is the best now on brushpiles that are 35 feet at the bottom and 20 feet at the top. The crappie are schooled and at 30 feet. Small spoons, jigs, grubs and live minnows on a slip float are all working. You have to get down to them. Black bass are in the same area and biting a little bigger spoon. Catfishing is fair on jugs and throw lines baited with live bluegill back in the creeks and are mostly channel cats. The temperate bass that are being caught are mostly small and coming out of deeper water. It does not look like there will be a striper kill this fall so far and it mostly affects the big ones. Bluegill fishing is good off docks on crickets. The walleye that I am catching are mostly short. There are a lot of baitfish out there with several being on the brushpiles drawing the game fish. Scuba diving conditions are fair to good but getting better as the cooler water clears. Try spooning brush on main lake channel swings on steep banks in 30-35 feet near the bottom for walleye. There is still a topwater bite early for a few minutes that is mostly bass.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

(updated 9-8-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “I had a much better day getting striped bass bites (Wednesday) morning. I was looking and fishing within a couple miles of the dam and found fish on two different main lake points. The fish were in 40-44 feet of water in both areas. The first main lake point that I found holding fish was a big round point. I landed a striped bass and missed three others, basically all caught in the dark or at twilight. By 7 a.m. the fish disappeared from this area. The second point that I found holding fish was a long rocky point. I landed a big hybrid and another striped bass. Until I saw the hybrid, I thought I had a really big catfish on the line. No big runs, but the fish continued to dig for the bottom every time I would gain a few feet. It took me over 10 minutes to land this guy. What a great battle.
“Today all fish were caught or missed vertical-jigging a white with chartreuse top, three-quarter-ounce spoon or a 1-ounce white spoon. The fish were mainly hitting the spoon on the fall. Fish were still on this second point when I left at 10 a.m. Yes, I fished later than normal. By the way, there is also a good late afternoon bite for striped bass in the same general area.”
The surface lake temp was a little above 83 degrees this morning. The lake is holding fairly stable with a little rise then a little fall, and sits at 555.47 feet msl. The lake remains in great shape. “Happy Fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”
Lou posts nearly daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 9-8-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.5 feet below the top of flood pool. There has been more wadable water on the Norfork in the morning and it has fished a bit better. 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 back in session and the creek is not as busy. Weekends can get quite crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs, various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and white mop flies. Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Be sure and carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
Remember that the White River, Norfork tailwater 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 said, “Last week my wife sister, Terri, and her husband, Larry, came to Cotter to visit Lori and me. They are both avid fly-fishers and Terri is an avid kayaker. She recently bought a kayak at the kayak shop here in Cotter. She keeps it in our garage with our kayaks and tries to take a float every time they come up for a visit.
“They were very interested in kayaking on this visit. The first day they went wade fishing at the Narrows and did incredibly well, catching almost 70 trout in a half-day of fishing all on olive Woolly Buggers. They were stoked. It was one of the best days that they had ever had here. I suggested kayaking and fishing on the Norfork the next day.
“I was interested in accompanying them. I wanted to fish the upper part of the catch-and-release section, also called McClellan’s, a historic trout dock on the Norfork, where I first fished the river over 40 years ago. Larry was not interested in kayaking, but he was interested in fishing. He dropped us and our kayaks off at the dam and then drove down to the Ackerman Access. The idea was that we would float down and link up with him there.
“When I first got into my boat, I noticed that I was not nearly as nimble as I used to be. Getting in was reasonably easy but getting out was more of a challenge. At 75 I am still able to do it.
“When we were on the ramp I noticed a black sludge on it. It was very slippery and I was glad to have my studded wader boots. I noticed this sludge all the way down stream and it made wading difficult. I also noticed that the water was lightly stained. It was not nearly as clear as the White had been a few days earlier.
“When we got to McClellan’s, I did not recognize it. I had fished through it on high water but I had not waded it in low water in years. Before I began fishing, I walked around looking for my favorite spots that I have fished for years. They weren’t there. I kept looking and found some new spots.
“Lori and Terri were catching trout on olive Woolly Buggers. I tried other flies to see what else would work. I finally had some success with Dan’s Turkey Tail Emergers, my brother’s favorite fly that he developed on this section of the river many years ago.
“We fished a while longer but headed out to beat the expected water rise. We linked up with Larry. He was fishing near Charlie’s and had done well. We floated down to Ackerman and loaded the boats onto our kayak trailer. We ended the day with lunch at Heidi’s Ugly Cakes in Norfork.
“The float was great, but I am concerned about the black sludge I saw and the lack of water clarity on the Norfork. Something is amiss.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 9-8-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low. With cooler temperatures, the smallmouths are more 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.