Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 9, 2023

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report August 10, 2023.

White River
(updated 8-10-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said the Arkansas Ozarks haven't missed out on the heat wave that's moving across the country, but we have the gem of the White River to cool us down. The trout love that very cold water and the anglers love the cool mist that lowers the air temperature by about 15 degrees.
Catching rainbows has seldom been easier than it's been the last few weeks, undoubtedly due to the low water we've had. The pattern from the dam continues with minimum flows (less than 700 cfs) in the morning and a full four or five units (12,000-plus cfs) during the late afternoon hours. The lake level is now 658.81 feet msl, nearly 2.5 feet below pool level for this time of year.
“I don't like to use the word "pattern" – once we begin to depend on a certain water level, somebody changes it – but it appears one has been established. Silver blades on an orange or brown Rooster Tail, or a silver Vibrax Blue Fox with an orange or bubblegum pink bell will bring in a good share. A bronze Colorado spoon, one-sixth ounce, is always a good choice in lower water.
“The bigger browns have been looking for sculpins and shad. Keep your eye on the tip of your rod for a little tremor and watch that brown snatch your bait. Play it slowly and carefully, no rapid movements, and you'll be able to net it for a picture. If you are new to fly-fishing, we've found the red San Juan Worm or a red-and-silver Midge is a good way to catch your first trout on a fly.
“Come on over and join us as we stay cool angling for a fat, energetic rainbow on the White.”

(updated 8-10-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said Southwestern Power Administration has kept a similar generation schedule of ramping up generation in the early afternoon and slowing generation in the evenings. This means at Calico Rock we are seeing water levels increase in the early morning until late morning and then drop throughout the afternoon. There is some dinginess to the water in the mornings and clearing throughout the day. In the mornings, drift-fishing with a silver in-line spinner with Uncommon Bait UV glow eggs (bright orange or Firefly [yellow/greenish]) and shrimp have worked well. Shrimp seems to be working best, but we are also hearing that worms and corn are working.
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 brown trout colors are effective. Throwing Shad Raps in the deeper holes has resulted in some nice browns and rainbows. Using sculpins has been effective, resulting in some nice 18-plus-inch trout.
“We needed the rain Sunday night and it didn’t have any effect on the river. With the varying river levels, beware of your surroundings watching for debris in the water, submerged rocks and debris, and shallow gravel bars. During the higher water levels and water flow, don’t throw out an anchor in the river. An anchor will drag and if it gets hung up it could pull the boat under the water. If you use a drag chain, either have a breakaway in the system or keep a knife close by to cut the rope. Stay safe and enjoy the last few days before most schools start this month.”

(updated 8-10-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said, “On the White, the hot spot has been 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 Pheasant Tail (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 8-10-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Tuesday that the lake level remains steady at about 658 feet msl, slightly below normal conservation pool. Water temperature is a warm 86 degrees, give or take, in the main lake and 90s in the backs of dirty creeks. Get up early, especially with this nasty heat, and hopefully you’ll get a chance at a little topwater action. Look for surface activity along shallow areas close to deep water. The shad are starting the transition. If you are around them, the bass will show themselves. They are schooled up and covering water. A Scuba Spoon Popper or small walk-the-dog-style bait like a Lucky Craft Gunfish of Sammy will work if you can get in there while they’re up.
“Most topwater for me has been closer to the main or on the main lake. Look in mouths of large creeks early if you’re planning to fish runoff or stained water in the back. Make sure the conditions are right after a rain, clouds etc. You can catch ’em on a buzzbait or 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, and cover water. Look at temps back there before you start. Del reminds anglers to be sure to fish the conditions.
For sunny and clear, stay out toward the main lake and fish natural colors in small profile baits. Look at ledges; keep your boat off the fish. These fish have been pressured a lot. “Drop-shot has been my go-to bait matched with a Robo Worm on brush piles, bluffs, standing timber off ledges for suspenders. You're gonna have to cat-and-mouse them most days.
“Tater shad will also work on the deeper suspenders in 35-45 feet. Also a big R2S Flutter if the largemouths and spotted 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 deep schoolers. Don’t put the topwater away after the morning bite. If they start generating at the dam, there will be a flurry even in the middle of the 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 8-3-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 556.59 and had dropped 1.75 inches in the last 24 hours with sluice gates open equivalent to two-thirds of a generator for three days when he came in to work at 7:30 Wednesday evening. Both generators at Norfork Dam are still inoperable. The surface water temperature is 88 degrees in the afternoon hot sun and the White River at Newport is still very low at 5.91 feet, indicating not much water is being let out anywhere. The thermocline starts at 24 feet and is very cold at 30 feet. Several fish of different species are in the 25-30 feet range. Open water fish are in 60-70 feet of water and suspended at various depths. There are a lot of shad out there. Other fish are on main lake points in 25-30 feet of water and can be caught on a jigging spoon. After-dark fishing for bass is good with black lights and saltcraws. The lake is at a good level for boating, swimming but diving and fishing are just fair. It is a typical early August but things will get better soon.
Visit and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.

(updated 8-3-2023) 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 8-10-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said that on the Norfork, all turbines still 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 on the Norfork 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 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 Norfork 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 8-10-2023) 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.