Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 23, 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 24, 2023.

White River
(updated 8-24-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We're finally getting those Arkansas summertime temps we've avoided so far — from blissful to blazing hot. But our early morning hours on the river are still blessed with a little bit of chill that counteracts the afternoon heat. Water releases from the Bull Shoals Dam, the famous tailwater of the White River, have been steady throughout each day for the last week: minimum flow during the morning followed by higher generation (up to four units or 12,000 cfs) in the afternoon.”
Bull Shoals Lake is below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl elevation, currently sitting at 659.70 feet msl as of midweek. The rainbow catch has been phenomenal. Bring in some healthy, brightly colored trout using spinners with gold blades and olive/brown skirts, or try your favorite Rooster Tail with a rainbow body and a bright pink tail. An eighth-ounce jig with white, white-gray or orange-black skirts bobbed in the center channel will attract a few, or rig a line with some garlic-flavored yellow or pink PowerBait and shrimp to keep you busy reeling. Float your bait just above the bottom — in the clear water of the White you can easily see the river bed. It's best to keep it in or near the river channel during low-water generation.
The browns are continuing to respond best to sculpins for now, but the best bet is to keep your options open and carry an array of baits, from shad to lures, to pique their curiosity. If you're casting flies, the ruby Midge, as well as red/silver or black/silver, were a constant success; Copper Johns made a splash last week, too.
“Visit Cotter and find out why we're called Trout Capital USA. Hope to see you at the river!”

(updated 8-24-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said river conditions continue to be mixed this week with Bull Shoals running six generators in the afternoon and Norfork Dam releasing water through three to four floodgates at the top of the dam and sluice gates from the bottom of the dam. “We are seeing dingy water in the mornings rising to 8 feet and clearing up in the afternoons dropping to 5 feet overnight. Using Uncommon Baits UV glow eggs (orange or green firefly) and shrimp with or without an inline spinner worked best. With the higher and dirty water, artificial lures have not been very effective. With the dingier water, what has worked best has been the Rapala Countdown CD7 in silver or brown trout colors. The heat is projected to continue to be oppressive into the weekend but cooling early next week. With this heat drink plenty of water and make sure to use some sort of sunscreen.”

(updated 8-24-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week they had no rain, brutally hot temperatures (to include excessive heat advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.3 foot to rest at 1.3 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 35.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 2.8 feet below power pool and 16.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.5 feet to rest at 5.4 feet below power pool and 14 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had wadable water every day with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake fell 1.7 feet to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. 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 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).
John also said, “My last two days of guiding before I retired were a week ago with George, an old friend and regular customer. We were both raised in Memphis and have fished together for years. He brought his friend Randy to fish with me.
“We began the trip as all guide trips should be — breakfast at the Sands. We had cooler weather than we had in a while. The water was incredibly low and gin clear. I rigged up two fly rods with a Pheasant Tail nymph with a ruby Midge Dropper.
“I launched the boat and motored upstream to a good spot. We began fishing and George had the hot hand. Randy was feeling under the weather due to a visit to one of our many Mexican restaurants the night before. I had stopped by my house on the way to the access to get some over-the-counter medications that my wife, Lori, keeps on hand.
“Initially the fishing was hot. But as the day progressed the water dropped lower and lower. This made drifting more difficult and I banged several rocks in the process. I wasn’t able to make my desired drift and the catch slowed down. The wind picked up and did not help. The Corps of Engineers had run little water the day before and I had not seen the White so low in years.
“We broke for lunch and discussed our options. Randy was ready to return to his motel room and rest. George wanted to try some wade-fishing. I took Randy back to Cotter and came back to wade with George. We waded across to the island at Rim Shoals but did poorly. We ended the day with about 25 trout.
“The next day we returned to the Sands for breakfast at 6:30 a.m. for an early start and then drove to Rim Shoals. The Corps had run more water the day before and the water level was still low but was much better for my drifting. It was a gorgeous day with no wind. We were rigged the same as the day before.
“The bite was on. We were catching two or three trout on each drift. The guys were stoked. About that time, Randy hit a good one. I looked down and saw a big brown fish. I was pumped. The idea of landing a trophy brown on my last day of guiding really appealed to me. It was not to be.
“The fight was awe-inspiring. The fish took run after run. We were using the same rods that I use on Dry Run Creek so I knew that they were up to the challenge. I finally got a good look at it. The mouth was in the wrong place. It was a huge sucker, not a brown trout. We finished the day at 11:30 a.m. and the bite never slowed. We had landed over 50 trout. They had twice the catch in half the time as the day before.
“What a difference a day makes.”

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 8-17-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Tuesday that the lake level is steady at 660 feet msl. “We needed that rain,” he said. “Water temp cooled to 83 degrees, give or take. Get up early, especially when it’s hot, and hopefully you’ll get a chance at a little topwater action. Topwater has slowed this week, but don’t rule it out. Look for surface activity along shallow areas close to deep water. The shad are starting the transition. Graph time pays off. The bass are schooled up still. If you’re around them they will show themselves. Spots are deeper. I’m still hanging in that 20-30 feet range and up and covering water.
“If they are busting, try a small walk-the-dog like a Lucky Craft Gunfish or Sammy if you can get it in there while they’re up. The main lake and mouths of large creeks are holding fish. Also halfway back into the creeks early if you’re planning to fish runoff or stained water in the back, make sure the conditions are right after a rain cloud, etc. You can catch them on a shad square bill, buzzbait or 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 and drop-offs, and cover water. Look at temps back there before you start. Be sure to fish the conditions. Sunny and clear, stay out and use finesse in natural colors and small profile baits. Look at ledges, keep your boat off the fish. These fish have been pressured. A drop-shot has been my go-to bait matched with a Robo Worm on brush piles, bluffs, standing timber, off ledges and points, especially if they are generating. Fish in 35-40 feet. You're gonna have to cat-and-mouse ’em most days. Tater Shad or Scuba Spoon in shad colors will also work on the deeper suspenders. Most action will happen if you are around the shad.
“Them danged walleyes are eating the drop-shot again in the deeper piles, around 32-40 feet. It’s always a pleasant surprise bass fishing. Crappie guys are saying it’s pretty random. Lots of running and gunning piles. Here today, gone tomorrow.”
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 8-24-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 554.88 feet msl and had dropped 3¼ inches in the last 24 hours with sluice gates open to an equivalent of over one generator for six straight days. Both generators are still inoperable. We are now below the top of the power pool of 555.75 feet msl for the first time in months. We are down from a high of 557.27 a little over a week ago. The surface water temperature is rising with the hot ambient temperatures and is now at 90 degrees and the thermocline has pushed down to 30 feet. The water clarity has also diminished and there is a start of an algae bloom. Scuba conditions are not the best right now, and fishing has deteriorated in the last week. Some are catching fish but are working hard to get them. Kentucky bass and bluegill are the best bite now in brush piles at 27-32 feet deep on the small jigging spoon. Trollers are catching a few but are dragging stuff for several miles to catch them. The lake overall is at an excellent level for boating, but fishing and scuba diving is fair at the best. We were heading in the right direction for fishing but the hot weather has changed things a bit. A few bass are coming up on shad early and just a few feet deep and doing the same thing in the evening. Overall fishing is fair at best. Things will get better as the weather cools.
Visit and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.

(updated 8-24-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “A couple of our guests had a great day, or should I say night, and early morning fishing on Norfork Lake this week. Jimmy and Wayne are night owls and had the first fish boated by 3:30 a.m. They were trolling deep-diving 5-inch crankbaits in dark colors. They got their baits down to 30 feet and were trolling in 30-45 feet of water. Quite a few big white bass and 15- to 16-inch spotted bass are being caught by vertical jigging a three-quarter-ounce spoon. The whites and spots are being found on main lake rounded points feeding on the bottom.”
Walleye are still being caught in 32-35 feet of water, either by vertical jigging a spoon or Tater Shad, or by trolling Flicker Minnows. Get your baits down on the bottom for the walleye, whites and spotted bass. The striped bass are suspended from about 30 feet down to the bottom.
“I got my mount back from Summer's Taxidermy and Wildlife Studio (Tuesday). They did a fantastic job on this fish. I caught this 30-pound, 41.5-inch striped bass on March 22 by jigging a white Tater Shad.”
The lake temp is on the rise and was about 88 degrees. The lake level is falling about 3 inches per day and currently sits at 554.9 feet msl.
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 8-24-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.7 feet to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 24.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. 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.
He says, “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). My favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan Worms 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. School is back in session and weekdays are not as 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.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 8-24-2023) 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.