Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

August 30, 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 31, 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 tailwaters 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 8-31-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said these cooler days have been nice — at least upper 80s/low 90s feels a lot better than 100-plus. With the lower temperatures, electrical demand has been reduced resulting in less generation from Bull Shoals Dam. We continue to see low water in the morning, but this week the low water has been 3 feet instead of 5 feet and high water late in the morning has been 6 feet instead of 8 feet. With the lower water, be more aware of submerged rocks and gravel bars. Fishing continues to be good using Uncommon Bait UV Orange and/or UV Firefly-colored eggs with shrimp. “We have seen a little more success using silver inline spinner with the eggs and shrimp, but just eggs and shrimp have worked well. Many people are reporting success using red wiggler worms or corn. Rapala Countdowns in rainbow trout, silver or brown trout colors work well when the water is lower. Additionally quarter-ounce spoons in gold work well on the shallow gravel bars.
“With Labor Day weekend expect more people on the river. Be watchful and courteous to each other when fishing. If someone is drift-fishing a hole, move a couple of hundred yards further up the river before you start your drift. That gives plenty of room between boats and allows the person who arrived first the first opportunity to drift the hole. When running up or down the river, slow down as you pass boats that are drift-fishing. Additionally, there will be many people in kayaks on the river.
“Enjoy the long weekend and good luck fishing.”

(updated 8-31-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they had no rain, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell a foot to rest at 2.3 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 36.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at 3.6 feet below power pool and 17.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 5.2 feet below power pool and 13.8 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 1.6 feet to rest at 2.1 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater 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, “On the White, the hot spot has been Rim 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, “When I first started guiding 30 years ago I did all of my fishing and guiding by wading. It seems like we had a lot more wadable water back then. This was back before minimum flow and the wading was much easier and safer. I was still living in Tennessee then and did not have a boat, unless you consider an aluminum canoe a river boat.
“When I moved here and began guiding full time, the first thing I acquired was a river boat. The boat of choice at the time was a 33-inch-wide Shawnee. All of them were green and that was basically the only boat available. The most popular motor was a 9-point, 9-horsepower, two cycle pull-start outboard.
“My first boat was a secondhand Shawnee ($1,000 for boat motor and trailer). It was so narrow it was like handling a canoe. It had spider chairs, and if my clients moved them toward the side of the boat it severely affected the balance of the boat. It had a 15-hp Mercury two-cycle pull-start and it was all I needed. I had some work done on it to repair a few dings and make it look better. I used it for five years and sold it for what I paid for it.
“My next boat was a used 48-inch Shawnee (I paid $3,500 for boat motor and trailer). The extra width made it much more stable and more comfortable to fish from. I moved the 15-hp Mercury to my new boat. I fished it for seven years and sold it without the motor at a slight loss.
“About this time the hot boat on the river was a drift boat. Just about all of the guides got one to fish low water and streamer fish. There are still a few drift boats around but they are limited to a one-way trip as they are propelled by oars. This requires a shuttle, although some of the drift boats have a small outboard. There are not as many around now.
“When I sold my 48-inch Shawnee, I bought a used 60-inch Supreme, which was the deluxe boat at the time (I paid $4,500 for boat motor and trailer). It was wide, stable and comfortable. It came with a 15-hp four-cycle Honda engine with electric start. I thought I was really special.
“Then minimum flow came in and the lower flows were much higher. The hot new boat is a large river boat, with a huge jet motor that could easily navigate low water. The boats were about the same size as my new boat but had 40- to 60-hp engines (they cost around $18,000 without a motor). The problem is that they are very loud. Many of the guides running them wear hearing protection. They also produce a huge wake, which I think is causing severe bank erosion. The wakes are also a nuisance when you are fishing and one of these boats blows by. Some guides are considerate and slow down as they pass. Others blow by without a thought for your safety or comfort.
“I kept my Supreme when I retired and use it for my wife, Lori, and I to fish on our own. As I fish on the river and hear the howl of a big jet boat approaching, I remember a simpler day.

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 8-31-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake level is almost at normal pool level, sitting 658 feet msl. “We needed that rain,” he noted. The water temperature cooled some to about 86 degrees. Bass fishing has been fair. “It’s junk fishing season. The shad are starting the transition moving into the creeks. Graph time pays off. The bass are schooled up. If you can get out early there’s a good morning window. I have even been focusing on the large creeks. They are holding fish toward the main lake and also halfway back into the creeks. There’s definitely a lot of fish still suspended off the swings and ledges and points, especially when they are generating water.
“If you’re planning to fish stained water in the back 20 feet or less, make sure the conditions are right after a rain, wind, clouds, etc. Target swings and brush piles with jigs and the big worm. You can also catch them on a Chatterbait, buzzbait or Plopper on the nasty rock transitions, bushes and on the flats. Fish areas with shad. Pick up a Jewel Jig Bass Whacker in green pumpkin orange, a big red worm or a green pumpkin shaky head in piles. When it’s hot, sunny and clear and flat water, try a drop-shot deeper, like 25-45 feet. This has been my go-to bait matched with a Robo Worm. You're gonna have to cat-and-mouse ’em most days. Tater Shad, Scuba Spoon in shad colors will also work on the deeper suspenders. Most action will happen if you are around the shad. Graph time pays off.
“Them danged walleyes are eating the drop-shot again in the deeper points and piles. Look around 32-40 feet depth. There’s always a pleasant surprise bass fishing. Lots of running and gunning piles. Here today, gone tomorrow. Have a fun safe Labor 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 8-31-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level he came in at dark last evening. The Army Corps of Engineers closed the sluice gates and both generators are still inoperable. The White River at Newport is 5.11 feet and about ready to dry up. The wade anglers on the rivers are liking this low water. The surface water temperature is 88 degrees and dropping with the cooler temperatures. The thermocline is at 32 feet and very pronounced. There is a mudline from 23-30 feet with reduced visibility but not too bad. Several fish of different species are at 23-30 feet, including Kentucky bass with a few largemouth, a few smaller walleye, a lot of bluegill and a few smaller crappie. Drop a small spoon in and around the main lake brush to catch about anything. Bait fish are everywhere. Some fish are being caught trolling live bait and weights clipped in front of crankbaits but they are burning a lot of gas. Several larger fish remain in open water on shad, and a spoon is your best bet. Look at different depths of water but focus on 32-35 down.
Fishing overall is just fair, Steve said. Visit blackburnsresort.com 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 yesterday. 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 was 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 8-31-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 1.6 feet to rest at 2.1 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 26.4 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater 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.
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 a bit better despite a lot of fishing pressure. School is back in session and weekdays are not as crowded. The hot flies have been Wowbugs, 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 8-31-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing well but are quite low. 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.