Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

June 21, 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 22, 2023.

White River
(updated 6-22-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “If you're looking for a place to escape from the heat but where the fishing is hot, Cotter is the answer. The White River curls its way around Cotter and provides all the trout catching action for which anyone could ask, and the cold, clear water refreshes the soul.”
Bull Shoals Dam has maintained a steady release pattern for the last week or two, averaging one unit (3,000 cfs) most of the morning and early afternoon, then increasing the flow during late afternoon hours to supply rising power demand. (That being said, it's probably due to change.) Bull Shoals Lake is at 660.53 feet msl and continuing to drop slowly.
Healthy, gorgeous rainbows have been consistently reeled in throughout the week, many of them measuring over 16 inches. The best way to hook these excellent fish has been a mix of live worms (usually nightcrawlers) and spoons with a flash of red in them. Gold is generally the color of choice for the White, but our experience so far this spring is that silver blades and spoons are catching more trout than the gold.
The usual mix of yellow or orange PowerBait and shrimp is the best if you're looking for a large quantity of take-home-for-dinner rainbows.
Early morning is the best time to be on the river with crawdad tails or crawfish crankbaits cast toward the bank in the grassy areas. The bigger brown trout have been looking for sculpin and lures with orange bellies.
“Enjoy the start to the summer and come ready to catch lots of trout on the White River.”

(updated 6-22-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said it has been another great week of fishing. The rain last week had minimal effect on the river conditions. Bull Shoals Dam continues increasing generation in the mid- to late afternoon and decreasing in the evening. In the morning we are seeing depths of about 3.5 feet increasing to 5.5 to 6 feet by late morning. Norfork Dam has been releasing water in the mornings, so as the water from Bull Shoals is dropping we see a slight bump in depth from the Norfork water and then the rest of the day the water continues to drop. Not to sound like a broken record, but what has been working continues to work well. With the lower water levels fishing has been great. Drift-fishing with silver-colored inline spinners with Uncommon Baits brand bright orange UV glow eggs and shrimp continue to work great. Using corn or redworms have also worked well. 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. Catching sculpins and drift-fishing with them have worked well for larger size rainbows and browns.

(updated 6-22-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week, they have had several rain events that combined for less than a quarter of an inch in Cotter, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady at 1.3 feet below power pool of 661.8 feet msl. This is 34.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at 0.3 foot below power pool and 14.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady 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 0.6 foot to rest at 0.2 foot above power pool of 556.55 feet msl and 23.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had less wadable water. All of the lakes are below or near power pool. Expect lower flows in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. 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 Copper John (size 14) with a ruby Midge Dropper (size 18).
Norfork Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 0.2 foot above power pool of 556.55 feet msl and 23.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had less wadable water. All of the lakes are below or near power pool. Expect lower flows in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and 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, “I wrote last week about hurting myself on a guide trip. At the end of two weeks after my injury I felt much better and was able to cut my grass, which needed it. As I was pulling out my lawn mower, I paused for a moment to think about my father. Several years ago I had gone to Memphis to visit my family and found my 92-year-old father cutting his grass with a push mower. I was stunned. I had been cutting my grass in Cotter with a riding lawn mower.
“It gave me something to think about. Had my father lived to be 92 because he was mowing with a push mower, which afforded him a good deal of exercise? When I got back to Cotter, I parked my riding mower and went back to mowing my large lawn with a push mower. I also turn my garden by hand, make my own compost and am currently spreading 7 cubic yards of mulch in my yard. Dad was from a generation that did things like that, and I strive to emulate him.
“Another thing he did that I admired is that he worked until he was 76. I am currently that age and I think my guiding career is coming to a close. Like dad, I want to quit while I am still on top of my game.
“He was never a fisherman and could not understand when I quit my job as a CPA to move here to be a fly-fishing guide. He could not comprehend walking away from a career to start doing something completely different. He worked at the same place for over 50 years. Over time he accepted it and was very supportive of my decision.
“Though he did not fish, he knew that his children loved it and took us. It was not fly-fishing. It was bamboo poles and crickets. We thought we were in heaven. He made us a cricket box out of the wood from an apple crate, some window screen and an old coffee can. It was awesome. I do not know what happened to it and I wish I still had it. I would put it in my living room and pass by it every day. Every time I did I would remember those trips.
He passed away eight years ago at 94 years of age and around Father’s Day I think of him. He is my constant inspiration and I miss him dearly. He and my mother were married for 60 years and were devoted to each other, and I know they are watching over me, my sister, Ernestine and my wife, Lori. Happy Father’s Day Dad!”

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 6-22-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake level is steady at 660 feet msl, only 1 foot higher than normal power pool. Water temperature is around 80 degrees. Bass activity seems to be in the 10-25 feet. Del says he’s spending lots of time graphing offshore, checking summer spots, swings, points and bluffs as well as brush piles, drops and ledges. Generation helps the point bite. Look in large creeks early. If you find cloudy, warm windy rainwater powerfishing is best with Chatterbaits, spinnerbait. Early, pick up a big worm or Beaver in any of the laydowns. There’s a big Texas-rigged redworm bite in some of the shallower brush piles close to deep water. As you move out, try points cracking a tube or stroking a Jewel half-ounce Special Ops football jig in green pumpkin orange. Perch colors, too. In 10-20 feet range in sunny conditions with clear water, natural colors in small profile baits are good. Look at ledges, keep boat off the fish. Start early with a topwater and as it slows, a small 2.8 McMinnow is still 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 broken 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 – 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. Fish that in the early morning, or all day if it’s cloudy. If it get too hot, jump in the water – it’s fine!
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 6-22-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 556.62 feet msl and had dropped one inch in the last 24 hours with sluice gates open to an equivalent of 1⅓ generators about half the time by 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The generators at Norfork Dam are still inoperable. The surface water temperature was 83 degrees and the thermocline is at 18 feet with a mud line at 15 feet down to the thermocline with cold water below that. The visibility has deteriorated a bit since last week but Scuba Conditions are still good.
You can find the water clarity that you desire as you move south. When you see the bass surfacing in the early morning and you are in at least 50 feet of water, there will be stripers under that. Drop a spoon on their head. Everything is going deeper with the increase in surface water temperature. Bass are feeding on crawdads in the evening shallow, and a creature bait or salt craw are working just at the first drop-off. Stripers are going deeper and you need water at least 50 feet deep. There are bass fry everywhere, so there must have been a good spawn. They are moving to cover and predator fish are after them. Big bluegill are under docks and on top of the shallower brush piles. Main lake points and just around on both sides are a good place to start. When in doubt, drop a spoon.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.

(updated 6-22-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort reports from Wednesday, “Happy first day of summer! Give us a call at 870-492-5113, if you are needing a place to stay on Norfork Lake. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort still has a few cabins available throughout the summer.
“Today (Wednesday) was the first day since last Friday that I have been able to get out on the lake. I had a pretty awesome morning of fishing. I started fishing around 4 a.m. and landed a nice striped bass at the second spot that I checked out. The stripers were suspended 30-50 feet down in 100-plus-feet of water. This fish was released and swam away very quickly. I moved to a large flat and found a lot of fish in 25-30 feet of water at all depths.
“On my first drop of a white trash Tater Shad, a big fish hammered the bait on the fall, but it broke off immediately. Must have hooked on the gill plate and cut the line. After that, I started to land one after another big white bass. When it became light enough to see, the fish seemed to vanish. I moved back into a creek and found a lot of bait up high in the water column. I checked a lot of areas in the creek and nearby coves, but never could find anything exciting.
“I started to head toward the resort at around 8 a.m. and decided to check out a deep bluff line with some rocky points. Over the next hour, schools of stripers came under the boat and I got to land five more striped bass. All swam away very willingly. My best bait in this area was the Binks 3/4-ounce spoon with a green back and white belly. The stripers wanted to chase the bait. I dropped the bait down to 50 feet and when the fish swam though at 30-40 feet, I would reel up as fast as I could. I would see three to five fish turn out of the school to chase the bait. Before the bait reached the surface one of the followers would hammer the bait. Each of these fish had lots of energy and would peel out close to 100 feet of line. I could see the fish surface in the distance.
“What great battles these fish gave today. I was sitting in 70-110-plus-feet of water.
“There was also quite a bit of surface activity. I landed and released several nice largemouth. Each time I saw bass feeding on the surface there seemed to be stripers under them. This isn't the first time I have noticed these two species feeding together. I don't know if the stripers are pushing the bait up or if they are just waited for some leftovers from the feeding bass.
“The Skole group also had a successful morning fishing, landing several striped bass and largemouth bass. They caught their fish jigging a Tater Shad and also jigging a Ned rig. The surface water temp was about 82 degrees. The lake level is slowly falling and sits at 556.7 feet msl. The lake appears to be fairly clear.
“Have a great time on Norfork Lake doing whatever water activity that you love doing. Give us a call at 870-492-5113, if you are needing a place to stay.”
Lou 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 6-22-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 0.2 foot above power pool of 556.55 feet msl and 23.3 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had less wadable water. All of the lakes are below or near power pool. Expect lower flows in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines are inoperable for the foreseeable future. Minimum release is being made through the siphon at continuous flows of 185 cfs and additional flows are made through the flood gates.
There has been much less 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). My 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 6-22-2023) 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.