Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 12, 2023

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report July 13, 2023.

White River
(updated 7-13-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the White River that flows past Cotter in the north-central Arkansas Ozarks, 18 river miles below Bull Shoals Dam – aka Trout Capital USA – is a perfect blend of peace and lots of fishing action. You might have to take you line out of the water to catch a little of that peace, but you can't ever miss the beauty of our Natural State.
Bull Shoals Lake elevation is 659.38 feet msl, 2 feet below normal power pool, the targeted number set by the Army Corps of Engineers. The water level in the river is quite variable right now with minimum flows (670 cfs) in the morning to mid-afternoon, rising to almost four units (12,000 cfs) in the late afternoon/early evening.
The rainbow catches were lured in mainly with sunrise or orange PowerBait tipped with shrimp (don't use anything much bigger than a size 8 hook), but our favorite spoons were making a splash, too. The copper/gold quarter-ounce Colorado and the red/gold Thomas Buoyant hooked a fair share of trout. Rooster Tails have been flying off the shelves; just about every color seems to attract more than a few rainbows. Brown and black maribou jigs have been a popular tool, too. You're right in saying, "It sounds like just about everything is working." We've been catching the tar out of the rainbows.
As expected, the browns are pooled up in the deeper holes and might be a little finicky. But if you can anchor near a deep spot, or repeatedly drift across one with a sculpin, you'll have success. The mighty Midge has been working for fly anglers all week.
“Come out and test the waters. Hope to see you at the river!”

(updated 7-13-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said, “On average we are seeing water depths as low as 2.5 feet in the early mornings rising as high as 5-6 feet. This weekend we did see water levels stay between 2.5-3.5 feet all day. The low water Saturday and Sunday raised the water temperature to over 70 degrees and limited where you could take a boat, but the fishing was good and it was easy to see the big trout.
“The hard part was getting the big trout to bite. On Tuesday and Wednesday we saw water levels back to the average. In the mornings, drift-fishing with a silver inline spinner with Uncommon Bait UV glow eggs and shrimp has worked well, as has quarter-ounce spoons. Additionally, deeper diving Shad Rap size 5 lures in Purpledescent or orange Crawdad colors did well. As the water drops in the afternoon, using quarter-ounce Colorado Spoons with nickel/gold or copper/gold or Bouyant rainbow trout- or brown trout-colored spoons work well while fishing the gravel bars.
“The cooler weather has been nice but it hasn’t lasted long. This week the Calico Rock boat ramp received one stocking of 750 rainbow trout.”

(updated 7-13-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week, they had four minor rain events (combined for little over a half of an inch in Cotter), hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.2 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool of 661.1 feet msl. This is 35.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 1.8 feet below power pool and 15.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool and 10.2 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had wadable water every day with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 foot over power pool of 555.85 feet msl and 23.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below or near power pool. We can 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 the Narrows. “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).”
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, “About 20 years ago, Gary Flippin, the owner/operator of Rim Shoals Resort, told me that he had put a trail along the White River at Rim Shoals, Menoka’s Trail. My brother, Dan, and I walked it and noted trail head No. 3, which led to a rock shelf in the river that was an easy place to cross the river to the island there. We fished there for years until his untimely death eight years ago. In 2020 Trout Unlimited and the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission did a major project to improve and substantially increase the length of the trail.
“Soon after it was completed my wife, Lori, and my sister, Ernestine (who was visiting from Memphis), walked the trail to look at how well the project turned out. It was awesome. The Rim Shoals Trail was about a mile long and went far downstream, creating access to some great water that we had not been able to wade to before. I was duly impressed. On the return to the parking lot, we were about halfway back when Ernestine remarked that she could use a place to sit for a while and rest her feet. I thought about that for a while.
“About a year later I talked to her about putting a bench on the trail as a memorial to Dan. We were very close to him and think of him often. He was larger than life. He was the best casting instructor around and a gifted fly-tyer. As a Vietnam Era veteran, he was committed to working with other vets. He dedicated the last years of his life volunteering at the VA hospital in Memphis teaching wounded warriors how to cast a fly rod and tie flies.
“I talked to Gary Flippin and my fishing buddy Danny Sabo (a member of TU’s board of directors) about donating a bench to the trail in Dan’s honor. They were quite receptive and took it to the board of TU, which began planning it. They searched far and wide and found a cast metal bench with a trout motif and an aged bronze finish. It is gorgeous and nearly indestructible. They wanted something that was good looking and would last in the outdoors. Along the way they thought of other people they wanted to honor on the trail and expanded the project to eight benches at last count.
“This past weekend they were able to get Dan’s bench installed. I called Ernestine and she traveled from Memphis to see it. When she got here, the weather was brutally hot, over 100 degrees. We got up early and drove over to the trailhead, arriving about 7:30 a.m. It was 75 degrees. We walked down to Dan’s Bench and took photos and then sat down and looked at the view. I could see the spot where Dan and I fished so many years ago. We stayed there until it began to get warm. It was a special time.
“Now, every time I want to be close to him I can walk the trail and sit on Dan’s bench.”

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 7-13-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level is steady at 659 feet msl. The water temperature is about 85 degrees “and it’s getting hot!” Del says.
“Bass activity seems fair. A thermocline is starting to form down there around 26 feet. Get up early, especially with this heat, and you’ll get a chance at some topwater action. Look for surface activity along shallow areas close to deep water. If you’re around them, they will show themselves. They are schooled up and covering water. A popper or small walk-the-dog like a Lucky Craft Gunfish or Sammy if you can get it in there while they’re up. Shad are spread out everywhere and there’s another big bug hatch.
“Most topwater for me has been closer to the main lake or on the main lake. Look in large creeks early if you’re planning to fish runoff or stained water. If the conditions are right you can catch them on a Plopper on the flats and remaining bushes. Pick up a Jewel Jig in green pumpkin orange, a big red worm or green pumpkin shaky head in any of the laydowns and drop offs, and cover water. Look at temps back there before you start. Be sure to fish the conditions.
“If it’s sunny with clear water, stay out toward the main lake and use natural colors in small profile baits. Look at ledges, keep the boat off the fish. Start early with a topwater and, as it slows, a drop-shot has been my go-to bait matched with a Robo Worm on brush piles, bluffs, standing timber and off ledges for suspenders.
“Bonus walleye are mixed in on the brush piles off points in 25-28 feet.
“It's summer for sure. You’re gonna have to cat-and-mouse ’em most days. Tater Shad will also work on the deeper suspenders. Also try a big Flutter if the largemouths and Kentucky bass are up high, 0-20 feet, and a small spoon if they are deeper, 20-40 feet. Use a spoon or Jewel Scope Spin on schoolers. Don’t put the topwater away after the morning bite. If they start generating, there will be a flurry.”
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 7-13-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 556.46 feet msl and had risen just a bit in the last 24 hours with no discharge for three days. Both generators are still inoperable. The surface water temperature was 85 degrees and starting back up with the hot weather as of 8 p.m. last evening. The thermocline is at 22 feet and several fish are around that depth, including Kentucky bass and walleye. The water is clear down to 16 feet and then there is a mudline with little visibility down past the thermocline.
The best bites now are for black bass after dark on the first drop-off on steep banks with a black light and salt craw. All of the bass being cleaned are full of crawdads, indicating they are going to the bank some time or another. Stripers are deep and are being caught on spoons in 70-plus feet of water. Bluegill are on brush and under docks and biting crickets. Catfishing is getting better with the smaller moon, and channels are biting prepared bait after dark under docks. Crappie are scattered and spooky, “and if you catch one they are gone. It is a typical summer fishing pattern,” Steve said.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.

(updated 7-13-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no new reports, but 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 7-13-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 foot over power pool of 555.85 feet msl and 23.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below or near power pool. We can 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.
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 poorly. School is out and it can get quite crowded, particularly on weekends. 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 7-13-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing well. 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.