Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 14, 2023

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report June 15, 2023.

White River
(updated 6-15-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Our mild June temperatures have added to the fun and perfected the dynamic trout fishing on the White River near Cotter; the quality and quantity of trout satisfied anglers of all ages.”
Bull Shoals Dam is holding steady, averaging one unit (3,000 cfs) most of the morning and early afternoon. Late afternoon releases increase the flow – 9,000-13,000 cfs – to supply rising power demand. Bull Shoals Lake is at 661.41 feet msl and continuing to drop slowly despite the recent rains.
The favorite technique this week was, by far, fishing artificial baits. The Vibrax Blue Fox three-sixteenth-ounce spinner, gold or rainbow, led the pack, followed by a white or yellow-bodied Rooster Tail. Keep it light at one-sixth ounce for the most part.
The water level is right for some jig fishing if you're floating in a jon boat: olive and brown/orange jigs were the most productive, but the white and bubblegum pink jig caught some attention, too.
“We're still reeling in browns, some days upward of nine for a single angler. That slimy, little sculpin attracts the browns like no other bait, but you could try to best a sculpin with a bigger jerkbait (a No. 7 Rapala gold-and-black Countdown?) or a fat, air-blown nightcrawler especially during the late-afternoon water rises.
“Have fun in the chase. Come to the river and catch a trout or two with us.”

(updated 6-15-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the rain the last few days have been a welcome sight to many people. Luckily the rain hasn’t affected the White River in Calico Rock. “Over the last week we have seen Bulls Shoals Dam increase generation during the afternoon and decrease again in the evening. As a result, at Calico Rock, we are seeing water rising in the morning and dropping later in the mornings and into the afternoon.”
Norfork Dam’s generators aren’t working and they are releasing water from the spill gates with a flow reaching about 4,200 cfs during the day. Water levels are averaging 4.5-6 feet. With the lower water levels, fishing has been great.
Drift-fishing with silver-colored inline spinners with orange UV glow eggs and shrimp continue to work great. Quarter-ounce Thomas Colorado Spoons in nickel/gold or copper/gold have been very effective for rainbows. Additionally, rainbow CD7 Rapala Countdowns and Purpledescent colored Shad Rap lures worked well. Drift-fishing with sculpins has resulted in some very nice 16-inch-plus rainbows and some 18-inch-plus brown trout.
With the lower water be careful to read the water. Many obstructions are now exposed or just under the water. In the Calico Rock area, a rule of thumb is the big rocks are on the bluff side of the river and the gravel bars are on the opposite side of the river. This week we had one stocking of trout by the AGFC using its pontoon raft to stock 4,800 trout between Calico Rock and Sylamore Creek.

(updated 6-15-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week, that had several rain events that combined for 1½ inches in Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 34.5feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.3 foot below power pool and 14.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 0.1 foot below power pool or 8.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water and lower flows. Norfork Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 22.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had wadable water every day. All of the lakes are at or near power pool. Expect lower flows in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines at the dam are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs; additional flows are made through the flood gates.
On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The White has enjoyed 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. John says his favorite has been a Sunday Special (size 14) with a ruby midge dropper (size 18).
Norfork Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 22.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had wadable water every day. All of the lakes are at or near power pool. Expect lower flows in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines at the dam are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs; additional flows are made through the flood gates.
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 said, “A week ago I hurt myself on a guide trip. At the end of a successful trip, I was pushing my boat off the bank so that I could run it up on my trailer and head home. I had put it up on the bank to unload my clients and secure the boat while I backed the trailer into the river. I had run it up too far and it was difficult to push it into the water. I redoubled my efforts and injured my back. I made it home. Luckily my neighbors, Brian and Amy, put my boat cover on for me.
“The thing that I don’t understand is how I injured myself that bad. I go the gym three days a week and do an intense elliptical work out followed by a full weight machine circuit. I concentrate on strengthening my back and body core with crunches and side lifts. At home, I do a lot of yard work to include cutting my large lawn with a push mower and turning the garden. I have been spreading homemade compost on our garden and 7 cubic yards of mulch. All of this was done without so much as a sore back and then I go fishing and really hurt myself. Fishing is supposed to be fun!
“I sat around the house hoping it would get better. That plan did not work. I finally went to MedExpress. They checked me out, gave me a prescription for some painkillers and muscle relaxers and told me everything would be OK in two to four weeks.
“Fly-fishing guides are independent contractors. We work for ourselves. If we don’t work, we don’t get paid. We have to pay for our medical care and any retirement funds. Fortunately I am eligible for VA for my health care, which covered my trip to MedExpress. Due to the length of the healing of my injuries I had to cancel some booked guide trips. I referred my clients to my fellow guides. I hope for a quick recovery so I can get back to work.
“The treatment is working, and last Saturday I was able to help teach at a casting seminar we held at Arkansas State University-Mountain Home. My wife, Lori, was the lead instructor and I taught the Belgian cast, the reach cast and the roll cast. I took it easy and was careful not to injure myself. I am feeling better every day.
“Now I have two problems. One is that I looked at the generation on the White River and noted that the lake levels had reached power pool and was at a very fishable level. The Norfork Tailwater has been on the bottom for days and was quite wadable. This makes me want to go fishing. My other problem is that I can see my grass growing through my windows when I look outside. I need to be patient and wait until I am better able to do these things without messing up my back more.
“Be careful out there. It is the little things that hurt you.”

Bull Shoals Lake
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Bull Shoals Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.

(updated 6-15-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that lake level is steady at 661 feet, 2 feet above the normal pool. Water temperature is about 80 degrees. “Bass activity seems to be in the 10-25 feet depth. I’m spending lots of time graphing offshore, checking summer spots, swings, points, bluff ends, brush piles, drops and ledges. Most fish still seem to be suspended looking up with the steady generation.”
Look in large creeks early. With cloudy days and warm, windy rainwater, Del suggests powerfishing Chatterbait, spinnerbaits or Rat-L-Trap-style baits. Try on the swing banks or in or around the bluegill spawning flats, pockets, bushes – cover water. There’s a big Texas-rigged redworm bite in some of the shallower brush piles close to deep water.
When it’s sunny, flat and calm a drop-shot is tough to beat in tough conditions or with suspended fish. Try points cracking a tube or stroking a Jewel half-ounce Special Ops football jig in green pumpkin orange. Perch colors, too, fished in the 10-20 feet range.
On sunny days with clear water, use natural colors and small profile baits. Look at ledges, keep the boat off the fish. Start early with a topwater, and as it slows a small 2.8 McMinnow is working. Once the sun gets up, drop-shot a Robo Worm. Don’t be surprised if you find a few walleye on those points in 15-20 feet. The shad are broke up high in the water column mostly over deep water. Early morning topwater has slowed up a bit, but bomb casts and look around for activity, as they are schooled up. Try a Lucky Craft Gunfish, white popper, or Spook Jr. topwater as well as a flutter spoon or Jewel Scope Spin on schoolers early in the morning or, if it’s cloudy, all day.

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
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Norfork Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.

(updated 6-15-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 557.05 feet msl and had dropped an inch in the last 24 hours by late Wednesday evening. The generators are still inoperable but they opened sluice gates equivalent to about 1⅔ generators for about nine hours. The White River at Newport is 7.68 feet, indicating there is not much water being let out anywhere. There is no effort to drop the area lakes. The surface water temperature was 82 degrees and the main lake is clear with the creeks being stained a little green but very clear near the shore. There is a thermocline at 16-17 feet with cold water at 20 feet.
Spearfishing season opens Thursday and the conditions look good. Bass are coming shallow to feed on crawdads in the evening and a few are coming up early morning on shad. Stripers are going deeper and seem to like 60 feet but are in 60-90 feet of water. You have to get down to them and a three-quarter ounce spoon is your best bet. Some walleye are with them. Bass fry are in brush looking for cover and walleye and bass are following them. Crappie are starting to hang around brush in 18-25 feet of water and bluegill are shallower. Cast a 1/16th-ounce jig on light, clear line past the brush and let it sink into it. The water is too clear to sit on top of the brush and fish with live bait and a slip float. If you do, set your depth 3 feet deeper than you can see your bait.
The lake overall is in excellent condition for swimming, boating and fishing and is at a good level. Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.

(updated 6-15-2023) 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 6-15-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 0.5 foot above power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 22.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had wadable water every day. All of the lakes are at or near power pool. Expect lower flows in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines at the dam are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs; additional flows are made through the flood gates.
There has been wadable water, on the Norfork. 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 Worm 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.
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 6-15-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing better. With warmer water, 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.