Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

July 26, 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 27, 2023.

White River
(updated 7-27-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said lots of things in our world are changing, but some things remain the same: Trout fishing on the White River in the beautiful Arkansas Ozarks continues to produce a great catch of fish and as much action as you could ask for. The beauty, peace and hospitality you'll find in Cotter, Trout Capital USA, and the whole of north-central Arkansas will keep you coming back for more.
Bull Shoals Lake elevation measured 659.30 feet msl Wednesday with generation continuing its schedule of minimum flows in the morning, raising a little earlier than it has been, to almost 12,000 cfs (four generators). The lake is currently below the targeted power pool of 661 feet msl.
Browns have been hiding in the remaining deep holes and biting on sculpin and crawdad tails. Wouldn't hurt to cast a Rebel WeeCraw or TeenyCraw and watch for a chase. There's been a late afternoon surge in the brown bite this past week, which is a little uncommon but might be attributed to the changing pressure systems and the occasional pop-up showers.
Rainbows are hitting gold spinners and pink and white PowerBait mousetails (scented manufactured worms topped with white Power Bait). The always popular red/gold hammered Thomas Buoyant Spoon is living up to its reputation by adding to the creel count.
Keep a cup of nightcrawlers or redworms on hand during the late afternoon water rise and play them close to the banks just a foot or so below the surface.
“Treat yourself to some time on the river. You'll return home refreshed, revived and thankful for all the great outdoors in The Natural State has to offer.”

(updated 7-27-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said there hasn’t been a change to the routine of low water in the mornings cresting at 6-plus feet by late morning and dropping the rest of the day. There is some dinginess to the water in the mornings and clearing throughout the day. In the mornings drift-fishing with a silver inline spinner with Uncommon Bait UV glow eggs (bright orange or Firefly [yellow/greenish]) and shrimp have worked well. “We are getting reports that, instead of shrimp, worms have also been doing 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 brown trout color are effective. Several reports of people fishing with sculpins with mixed results. The trout caught with sculpins have been 17-plus inches or longer. After applying sunscreen, make sure to wash your hands so you don’t get any on your bait. The trout can taste the sunscreen and will spit out the bait. “This week we received one stocking of 800 rainbow trout at the Calico Rock boat ramp.”

(updated 7-27-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week they had three quarters of an inch of rain in Cotter, hot temperatures (to include heat advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 1.4 feet to rest at 1.7 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 35.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 2.6 feet below power pool and 16.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 2.4 feet below power pool and 11 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had wadable water every day with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake remained steady 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. 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.
John said, “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 pheasant tail (size 14) with a ruby Midge dropper (size 18).
John also said, “Here on the White and Norfork rivers, we spend most of our time fishing heavy flies on or near the bottom. That is where the trout usually are. To make sure they are getting down we add significant weight (split shots) to the leader or use a weighted sink tip line to get that fly or flies down.
“The big problem with fishing the bottom of the river is that there are other things than fish down there. There are rocks of various sizes, weeds, sunken logs and other interesting things that just lie in wait for your fly to drift by.
“When you hang the bottom, you see your strike indicator sink and instinctively set the hook. If it is not a fish, there will be no movement at the end of your line. Rocks do not shake their heads. Many anglers, particularly neophytes, take this feeling as a result of a huge trout and hold the line tight, which results in a broken leader and lost flies.
“I once had a lady angler who did this 13 times, which resulted in my losing 13 girdle bugs that I had tied the night before. I was out of girdle bugs, so she went on to lose several San Juan worms. There was a dropper tied on every lead fly. That doubles my losses. It doesn’t take a trip to a fly shop to figure out that this is a bit of money.
“The correct procedure, when you hang the bottom, is to let out line until you can start the motor. Move the boat upstream slowly as you wind the line back on the reel. When you are upstream from where the fly is hung and the slack is removed from the fly line, gently disengage the fly from the bottom by moving the line upstream.
“This usually works about 90 percent of the time. It works when the fly is stuck on a rock or grass. It does not work if the fly is stuck in a sunken tree. When you retrieve your hook, make sure that it is still there, is clean of aquatic weeds, is sharp and not bent.
“One way to help prevent this is to fish flies tied on jig hooks. These flies are weighted with beads on the head of the fly on special hooks that allow them to drift with the hook point up and sink quickly. With the hook point up, they are not as likely to grab the bottom. Flies tied on jig hooks are the most recent trend in fly tying and many flies are now available on them. I tie and use mostly flies tied on jig hooks.
“Fishing the bottom is subject to having hang-ups. Take care not to lose any more flies than necessary.”

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 7-27-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday the lake level is steady at 659 feet msl. Water temperature is around 85 degrees and 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 nasty heat, and you’ll get a chance at a little topwater action. Look for surface activity along shallow areas close to deep water. If you’re around them, they will show themselves; it’s still hit or miss but they are schooled up and covering water. Try 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 the boat off the fish. Start early with a topwater and as it slows, a drop-shot has been Del’s 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 28-32 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 in 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 7-27-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 556.98 feet msl at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday. The surface water temperature was 87-88 degrees and rising with very warm ambient temperatures. The thermocline is 23-24 feet with very cold water at 30 feet and a mudline from 19-25-feet with little visibility. It is very clear from the surface down to 18 feet, especially on the main lake. There are a lot of fish in the 20-25 feet range, including bass, walleye and catfish especially on main lake points with brush nearby. Bluegill are in the same area but shallower and right in the brush. Bass and bluegill fry are everywhere near cover and are attracting the game fish. The water level fluctuation this spring did not seem to affect the spawn much with the number of fry in the lake.
Bink is still catching stripers and a few big walleye deep in 60-70 feet of water near the bottom on the spoon early and bass anglers are doing well after dark with black lights and salt craws. “I am not seeing very many crappie yet, but they should move in after Labor Day. The lake overall is at a good level and condition for boating, swimming and fishing, but fishing and scuba diving are just fair but improving. It is nice to not have the water level too high.”

Visit and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.

(updated 7-27-2023) 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 7-27-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake remained steady 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. 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.
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 Rail) 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 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 7-27-2023) 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.