Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

May 24, 2023

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report May 25, 2023.

White River
(updated 5-25-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the bite is on and the anglers on the White River in the Arkansas Ozarks are catching trout on the first cast of the day, on the last cast in the afternoon and on a whole lot of casts in between. The water is cold and clear, refreshing, and provides a cool updraft when you're moving downstream in a john boat.
Bull Shoals Dam is continuing releases from the lake – usually two or more generators, 6,000 to 12,000 cfs all day, a little heavier in the afternoon than the morning. Bull Shoals Lake is at 666.15 feet msl, 4 feet above seasonal power pool, and will continue to drop.
Plan your baits based on water conditions. Begin with the tried-and-true shrimp and egg pattern (orange, yellow and/or pink) for a swift catch of rainbows. Transition to live worms or to drifting a pink or orange 2-inch artificial worm as the water rises later in the morning. Crawdad season is here. Fresh crawdads are nice but sometimes hard to find; the Rebel Teeny Craws are a great way to outwit the trout.
The secret bait this past couple of weeks has been the Rapala brook trout Countdowns.
A family fishing adventure offers time together in an outdoor arena, slows time down a little in a digital-free environment (as much as desired) and makes for some terrific, lifelong memories. Go catching and enjoy Arkansas’s natural resources.

(updated 5-25-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said it has been a great week of fishing. “We have seen water depths as high as 7.5 feet and as low of under 5 feet. All except one day the water has been clear. The one day we had some dinginess in the water but fishing was still good.
“Nickel-colored inline spinners with orange or yellow-colored eggs and shrimp worked well. We are also seeing a lot of success using 3-inch plastic trout worms with a white body with an orange or pick tail. When the water is clear and low, throwing quarter-ounce spoons work well. We have had the best luck with Colorado spoons in nickel/gold or copper/gold colors.
“The weather this weekend is looking nice with sunny days and highs in the low to mid-80s. This long weekend is a perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy some fishing and the beautiful scenery of the White River. The river will be crowded; stay safe and be respectful of others. On Monday, take a moment to reflect on the purpose of Memorial Day and remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice by losing their life in the service of our country.”

(updated 5-25-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week they had half an inch of rain, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.9 foot to rest at 4.1 feet above power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 28.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool and 14.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at 4.5 feet above power pool or 4.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had marginal wadable water and lower flows. Norfork Lake rose 0.6 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 22.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water every day.
John said, “The Caddis hatch is on the wane. This is our best hatch of the year. We have seen some small hatches in late afternoon. Before the hatch, fish a Caddis pupa like the Sunday Special in size 16. When you see takes on the top but see no insects, switch to a Caddis emerger like my Green Butt in size 15. When you observe trout taking insects from the top of the water, switch to Elk Hair Caddis size 16.
“On the White, the hot spot has been White Hole. We have had lower flows that have fished 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. My favorite has been a cerise San Juan worm with a girdle bug dropper (size 8).”
Remember that the White and North Fork rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive algae. Be sure and 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.
Berry, who has fished the local streams for over 40 years, also says, “The weakest link in your fly-fishing rig is the knots that you tie. I have been fly-fishing for over four decades, most of which I have been a working guide. During that time I have tied a lot of knots and I have learned a thing or two about tying knots mostly through trial and error.
“Knot tying is a basic skill for fly-fishing. You must master it if you are going to achieve independence as a fly-fisher. The other idea is to hire a guide every time you fish and require them to rig your rods and tie all of the knots you need.
“When I first began fly-fishing, my instructor was my brother, Dan. He rigged me up and put me in the water with no instruction on knot tying. When I lost a fly, I had to wade over to where he was fishing and have him tie on a fresh fly. This got old pretty quickly and I sat down and learned a few basic knots.
“I quickly decided to simplify the process as much as I could. First, I decided to have as many knots as possible eliminated or tied by others. When I bought a new reel, I bought a fly line at the same time and had the fly shop mount backing and fly line for me. They usually do this at no charge. I always buy a fly line with a loop at the end and a leader with a loop at the end. I simply do a loop to loop connection and avoid having to tie a nail knot.
“I tie the tippet to the leader with a surgeon’s knot and tie on my flies with an improved clinch knot. Therefore, I only need to know how to tie two basic knots for all of my fishing.
“The trick is to do it properly. If you lose a fish and immediately check your hook to note that it is missing, look at the end of the tippet. If there is a curly pig tail on the end, then you had knot failure. This means that you did not tie the knot properly. It is a guide’s nightmare.
“The most common problem is that you did not tighten the knot enough. You must tighten the knot until there is no excess slack in the knot. A slack knot will slip and come untied. This usually happens when there is a trophy trout pulling on your line. The best way to ensure that the knot is properly tightened is to lubricate the knot before you draw it tight. Water is the best lubricant for monofilament. I usually just use saliva, which is convenient and effective. Finally, test your knot by putting pressure on it. Let it fail in your hands, not when a big fish is pulling on it.
“Take care with your knots and they will take care of you.”

(updated 5-11-2023) AGFC staff fished the White River in the Sylamore Creek-White River junction area last weekend. On Saturday, there was a little smallmouth bite in the current of the big river just in front of the creek, biting white maribou Trout Magnets. Rainbows like the Trout Magnet some but early, as well as an inline spinner, at midday started really favoring the orange PowerBait, while some liked the No. 7 rainbow trout-colored Rapala Countdown. On Sunday, fishing out of Jack’s Resort (870-585-2211) after the river had risen 1 foot overnight, we drift-fished the White River below the confluence, catching what would have been boatload of rainbows (all were returned to the river), including a 16-incher, using inline spinners and hooks baited with X Factor eggs and pieces of shrimp.

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 665.65 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.43 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). By midday Thursday the flow was 12,506 cfs with constant generation over recent days; tailwater elevation was 456.39 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 916.54 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 5-25-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that Bull Shoals level continued to rise over the past week to 7 feet over normal pool at 666 feet msl. Water temperature is about 75 degrees.
He says, “Algae blooms seem to be diminishing. There’s still a Senko flipping bite. Don’t expect that to last much longer. The sunfish bluefills are spawning as well as the carp. A lot of post-spawn fish are no moving deeper and suspending. I’m spending lots of time graphing, checking summer spots, points and ledges. Most fish still seem to be looking up, making dragging bottom baits slow. Most of the dirty water is in the bigger creeks, while there is high visibility around the dam area.
Fish Bull Shoals like two separate lakes. With dirty creeks, cloudy and warm, windy and rain, we’re powerfishing a square bill, Chatterbait, spinnerbait or Rat-L-Trap-style bait.
Try on the last couple of swing banks or in or around the spawning pockets and bushes. Cover water. Fish runoff if available. There is a big redworm bite in some of the brush piles.
For sunny, flat, stain conditions, try points slow-dragging a tube or Jewel half-ounce Special Ops football jig in green pumpkin in 15-25 feet. On sunny days with clear water, look at ledges already, keep boat as far away as castable. Start with a 2.8 or 3.3 McMinnow or drop-shot a Robo Worm. 
The shad are broken up high in the water column. It’s that time of the year: topwater, topwater, topwater. Get up early and use a wake shad, Spook, Lucky Craft Gunfish or Spook Jr. topwater early moring or all if it’s raining. This pattern has been the deal for me, especially with the warmer temperatures.
Have a great Memorial Day weekend and be safe. Each day is different so 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 midday Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 557.36 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.18 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Flow below the dam Thursday midday was 3,043 cfs.

(updated 5-25-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 557.37 feet msl and was up just a bit when Scuba Steve arrived at the resort at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The surface water temperature was 77 degrees, the lake is trying to clear and he could see his lure down about 7 feet. It is slowly rising but is at a good level for boating, fishing and swimming. The best bite remains the topwater bite early at sunrise, but that is diminishing. Flatheads continue to bite on live bait on throw lines and on drop-shot jugs with live bait. Stripers are going deeper but still come to the surface just at sunrise, but not for long, especially on sunny mornings. Spawned-out crappie are on brush about 5-10 feet down and feeding on live minnows on slip floats and jigs cast over the brush and allowed to sink into it. Black bass are also biting near the bank on crankbaits. The smallmouth bite is over.
“The lake overall is in excellent condition for swimming, boating and fishing. It looks to be a very busy holiday weekend and all campgrounds, launches and parking are open,” he said.
Visit and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.
(updated 5-25-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 5-25-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.6 foot to rest at 0.6 foot above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 22.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water every day. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-head nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). John says his favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worms and a ruby midge. The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished a bit better. Weekends can get a 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. Carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 5-25-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing better. With warmer 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.