Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 19, 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 20, 2023.

White River
(updated 7-20-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said We have a remedy for these hot, humid July days: a slow, peaceful float on the cold, refreshing, clear water of the White River beside Cotter, or maybe a little wade fishing during the morning hours when the river is low and layers of mist make you forget the numbing heat of midsummer.
And while you're at it, you can catch a whole bunch of trout. What a gift!
White River water levels below Bull Shoals Dam have continued to be little arbitrary for the past week; minimum flow (600 cfs) all day around Cotter, then rising several feet with releases from the dam of 12,000-14,000 cfs during late afternoon and early evening.
Low water means finding the deepest spots with the coldest water. When you do, get ready for plenty of angling action. Orange and black jigs have proven successful on the lower water. Swim them mid-depth with a small tug now and again.
It's fun to watch the rainbows follow the spinners-- try an ⅛- or 3/16-ounce Blue Fox Spinner with a red bell or the bleeding frog Rooster Tail. We found that bleeding frog pattern in a Thomas Bouyant Spoon and worked it for several catches. Yellow and/or Sunrise PowerBait are bringing in the rainbows with or without a morsel of shrimp added to the mix.
Come on over, get out of the house, and enjoy the cool of the river in the beautiful Natural State and the Arkansas Ozarks.

(updated 7-20-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said, “We continue to see the routine of low water around 3 feet in the mornings and rising to as high as 7 feet late in the morning. Around 11 or noon the water stops dropping again. On Saturday we saw some muddy water arrive mid-morning, but by late afternoon the water was clearing. Otherwise the water has ranged from clear to some dinginess.
“In the mornings drift fishing with a silver inline spinner with Uncommon Bait UV glow eggs and shrimp has worked well, as have 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 Buoyant rainbow trout or brown trout-colored spoons work well while fishing the gravel bars. CD7 Rapala Countdowns in silver or rainbow trout are effective. Additionally, dragging sculpins has resulted in some nice 16-plus inch rainbow trout.
“Stay safe during this heat. Drink plenty of water, wear a hat and use sunscreen. After applying, make sure to wash your hands so you don’t get any on your bait.”

(updated 7-20-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week, they had four rain events combining for 3 inches in Cotter, hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.3 foot to rest at 1.3 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 34.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 2 feet below power pool and 16 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 1.8 feet below power pool and 10.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had wadable water every day with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake rose 0.5 foot to rest at 1.3 feet over power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 23.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water this past week. All of the lakes in the White River System 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 the Wildcat 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).

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. Water temperature is around 85 degrees but is 90s in the backs. 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, but it’s still hit or miss. 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. 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 Whopper Plopper on the flats and remaining bushes. Pick up a Jewel Jig Bass Whacker in green pumpkin orange or a big red worm or green pumpkin shaky head in any of the laydowns, brush piles, drop-offs – cover water. Look at the temps back there before you start. Be sure to fish the conditions.”
If it’s sunny and clear, stay out toward the main lake and use natural colors on small profile baits. Look at ledges, keep 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 off ledges or 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 at 35-45 feet. Also a big R2S Flutter if the largemouths and Kentuckys are up high (0-20 feet) and a small spoon if they are deeper (20-40). 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 is 556.97 feet msl and has risen three-quarters of an inch in the last 24 hours with absolutely no discharge for four days. Both generators at the dam are still out of service. The level continues to creep up. The surface water temperature is 87 degrees and the water is clear down to 16 feet and there is a mudline with very little visibility down past the thermocline at 23 feet. It is clear down past that. A lot of fish are in the mudline, especially on main lake points around brush near the bottom, including bass, catfish and walleye. Some white bass are roaming a few feet above the bottom. Stripers and some larger walleye are deep and being caught on the jigging spoon. Drop it right on their heads. The night bite for bass with a black light and salt craw is very good near Cranfield Island from 9 p.m. until almost midnight. Bluegill are under docks and biting crickets in the shade. Catfish are hitting prepared baits on drop-shotted jugs and trotlines back in the creeks. Flatheads have finished spawning and are hungry but only bite live baits. Get out early, take the middle of the day off, and fish until or after dark. The lake overall is in excellent condition and at a good level for boating and fishing.
Visit and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.

(updated 7-20-2023) 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 7-20-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.5 foot to rest at 1.3 feet over power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 23.1 feet below the top of flood pool. 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 and 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 poorly. School is out and can get a 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.
John also said, “I have often said that my biggest problem is keeping up with my gear. This past week I had a guide trip to Dry Run Creek for a brother and a sister. My wife, Lori, was out of town competing in a dog show with our Labrador retrievers, Tilley and Ghillie. I was to join them in Springfield, Missouri, at the end of my guide trip. I find guide trips to Dry Run Creek much more challenging because the young clients have never fished before and have no gear. Therefore, I furnish it.
“I have found that if my clients wear waders there they can fish several spots that other anglers cannot comfortably reach. I have about a dozen pairs of waders of various sizes. Before the trip I asked the father what sizes his kids require. He also supplied his shoe size. The day before the trip I go through the garage gathering the three sets of waders (waders, boots and wader belt) that I will need the next day. I also include three pairs of heavy wool socks to wear under the waters. These are put into a folding box and put in my car.
“While I am doing this, I also make sure my waders are in my wader bag and loaded in my Suburban. I always carry a big boat net, but when there are two young anglers I carry an extra big boat net. The net stays with the angler and if I am busy with another trout, Dad can net the trout. I keep no less than five fly rods and reels already rigged and ready to go in a rack in the rear of my car. I also pack and load lunch in my Yeti for five people.
“I thought I had it all packed. I arrived at Dry Run 30 minutes early and donned my waders. I pulled out two rods and the two nets and did a last-minute check of the gear in my little chest pack to be sure that I had all the tackle I needed. I found flies, strike indicators, leaders and weights. There was no tippet. This is an ultimate rookie mistake! You can’t finish without tippet.
“I looked all through my gear to no avail. I thought I might have an extra spool in my wader bag or my rain jacket. They were not there. I remembered my last boat trip, where I took the tippet spools from my vest to the boat. I had not put them back.
“I had to figure a way to fish with no tippet. The answer was in my car. I had five rods ready to go. I fished one rod until it was so tangled I could not fix it without fresh tippet. I then took the next rod and fished it until it got tangled. At the end of the day, we were still fishing and I had three badly tangled rods in my car. My clients never knew the difference.
“Sometimes the answer is obvious.”

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 7-20-2023) 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.