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Reports are updated weekly, although some reports may be published for two weeks if updates are not received promptly or if reporters say conditions haven’t changed. Contact the reporter for current news for the lake or stream you plan to fish.
Arkansas River and White River levels are available at: http://water.weather.gov/ahps2/index.php?wfo=lzk
For real-time information on stream flow in Arkansas from the U.S. Geological Survey, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/rt
For water-quality statistics (including temperature) in many Arkansas streams and lakes, visit: http://waterdata.usgs.gov/ar/nwis/current/?type=quality
Download the Fish Brain app and follow AGFC at: https://join.fishbrain.com/agfc-page
(updated 6-29-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Trout fishing in the Arkansas Ozarks is most always successful and the fun never stops – even during the heat of summer. Bull Shoals Lake is hovering at 660.07 feet msl, just below where the Corps of Engineers likes to keep the lake this time of year (power pool). The river is extremely variable right now with minimum flows (670 cfs) in the morning rising to almost four units (12,000 cfs) in the late afternoon/early evening. Excessive heat calls for high power demand, which dictates water releases and impacts river level.
Black was the color to tie on this week when water levels remained steady at around 3,500 cfs (one unit): black Rooster Tails, black jigs, sometimes a little red or moss green in there, dark spoons, nothing too weighty. Drifting pink PowerBait worms or live red wigglers achieved quick bites and brought in plentiful and healthy catches. It sounds crazy, but inflating a nightcrawler with a Magic Worm Blower excites the rainbows like nothing else.
Shrimp/PowerBait combo is always a great fallback bait when others aren’t attracting attention. Add a little salt to your shrimp supply to better keep your bait on the hook between bites. The brown trout bite has been exceptional for late spring, with catches in the double-digits some days. Sculpin and shad have been the ticket this week with several good keeper browns reeled in.
Visit Cotter and find out why we’re called Trout Capital USA. Hope to see you at the river!
(updated 6-29-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said this last week the fishing continues to be great. There has been little variation in the dam generation schedules. Bull Shoals Dam continues increasing in the mid- to late afternoon and decreasing in the evening. In the morning we are seeing depths as low as under 3 feet increasing to 5.5 feet by late morning. Norfork Dam has been releasing water in the mornings, so as the water from Bull Shoals is dropping we see a slight jump in depth from the Norfork water and then the rest of the day the water continues to drop. With the lower water ¼ ounce spoons are working great. The Colorado spoons with nickel/gold or copper/gold worked well as well as Buoyant rainbow trout or brown trout colored spoons. CD7 Rapala Countdowns in rainbow or silver seem to be working best. In the deeper holes the crawdad (orange) colored Shad Reps have been effective. Drift fishing with sculpins continues to be effective for bigger sized rainbows and browns. Summer is in full force and the temperatures are high. Make sure to dress appropriately, drink water, wear a hat and use sunscreen. A lot of people are taking a cooling towel with them and dipping the towel in the water to help cool off. With the lower water be careful of where you are going. If you miss the deeper channel it is easy to run a boat onto a gravel bar or barely submerged rock. This week we saw two stockings for a total of approximately 1950 rainbow trout. The average stock size is about 11 inches but the last couple of stockings I’ve seen some bigger 13+ inch fish being stocked.
(updated 6-29-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter said that during the past week, they had two rain events (combined for less than a quarter of an inch in Cotter), hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool of 661.6 feet msl. This is 34.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.7 foot below power pool and 14.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool and 9.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had some wadable water and lower flows. Norfork Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at power pool of 556.35 feet msl and 23. 6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater had less 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.
On the White, the hot spot has been around Cotter. 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 Wowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. John says his favorite has been a copper John (size 14) with a ruby midge dropper (size 18).
John also said, “This week my wife Lori’s sister, Terri, her husband, Larry, and their daughter, Brooke, came to visit. They were interested in kayaking, fishing and enjoying the beauty of The Natural State.
“Brooke, a pharmacist at the VA hospital wanted to kayak the Buffalo with Lori and Terri accompanying her. So we set about planning the trip. We found out that the outfitters were charging over $40 for a shuttle so Larry and I decided to handle the shuttle for them.
“The next morning we got up early and loaded three kayaks on our Malone kayak trailer. We also got enough personal flotation devices, paddles, coolers with food and drinks and fishing gear to fill up our Ford station wagon. We headed out to the Spring Creek access on the Buffalo River. Lori and I rode in the Ford with the gear and the kayak trailer. Larry, Terri and Brooke followed in their SUV. It took us about an hour to get to the turnoff for the access, which turned out to be a rough, pitted dirt road. I quickly figured out why the shuttles were so expensive.
“We arrived at Spring Creek. We got the kayaks off the trailer, loaded the gear into the boats and carried them to the river. It was a perfect day. It was sunny and warm with little wind. The water was at a good level for kayaking and was gin clear. The scenery was gorgeous with limestone bluffs, beautiful green undergrowth and no development. The plan was for them to float down to the next access, the Highway 14 bridge, and fish along the way.
“I drove to the Highway 14 bridge with Larry following me. I parked the Ford where Lori could find it and got in the car with Larry. We headed back to Cotter. We stopped at the White Sands Cafe for a late breakfast. Fortified with a couple of hearty omelets and a bunch of coffee, we headed to my house four blocks away. We dropped off Larry’s car and picked up my Suburban. My Supreme river boat was already hooked up and ready to go.
“We drove over to Rim Shoals. We loaded my paddle, two boat nets and a couple of pre-rigged rods into the boat and launched it into the river. The water was about 3,500 cfs or a little over one full generator and clear as a bell. These are near-perfect fishing conditions.
“We began fishing. The rods were rigged with size 14 Copper Johns with size 18 ruby midge droppers. The fishing was great. We landed around 20 nice rainbows and browns in a few hours.
“We beat the girls home. They had a great float but did not catch many fish. The only casualty was Terri’s Helios fly rod.”
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 6-22-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake level is steady at 660 feet msl, only 1 foot higher than normal power pool. Water temperature is around 80 degrees. Bass activity seems to be in the 10-25 feet. Del says he’s spending lots of time graphing offshore, checking summer spots, swings, points and bluffs as well as brush piles, drops and ledges. Generation helps the point bite. Look in large creeks early. If you find cloudy, warm windy rainwater, powerfishing is best with Chatterbaits, spinnerbait. Early, pick up a big worm or Beaver in any of the laydowns. There’s a big Texas-rigged redworm bite in some of the shallower brush piles close to deep water. As you move out, try points cracking a tube or stroking a Jewel half-ounce Special Ops football jig in green pumpkin orange. Perch colors, too. In 10-20 feet range in sunny conditions with clear water, natural colors in small profile baits are good. Look at ledges, keep the boat off the fish. Start early with a topwater and as it slows, a small 2.8 McMinnow is still working. Once the sun gets up, drop-shot a Robo Worm. Don’t be surprised if you find a few walleye on those points in 15-20 feet.
The shad are broken up high in the water column mostly over deep water. Early morning topwater has slowed up a bit, but bomb casts and look around for activity – they are schooled up. Try a Lucky Craft Gunfish, white popper or Spook Jr. topwater as well as a flutter spoon or Jewel Scope Spin on schoolers. Fish it in the early morning, or all day if it’s cloudy. If it get too hot, jump in the water – it’s fine!
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.
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Norfork Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.
(updated 6-29-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level was 556.29 feet msl and had dropped three-quarters of an inch in the last 24 hours with sluice gates open an equivalent of two-thirds of a generator for about 10 hours as of 7 p.m. Wednesday. The generators are still inoperable and they are not letting out much water anywhere with a White River level of 5.19 feet. We are getting very hot and dry and not much relief is in sight. The surface water temperature is 85 degrees and the thermocline is at 19 feet with a mudline and cold water at 23 feet. Several fish are still at or around this depth, including walleye and bass. The best bite now is for bass after dark with black lights and fluorescent line and saltcraws on the first drop-off on steeper banks, and stripers and some larger walleye deep early in 50-60 feet of water on jigging spoons. The water can be deeper but they seem to like the 50- to 60-feet level and that is where the shad are located.
“We are now in the middle of the summer fishing. The lake is at a good level for boating, swimming, fishing, boating and scuba diving, but the water clarity is diminishing with the heat.”
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily report.
(updated 6-22-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort reports from Wednesday, “Happy first day of summer! Give us a call at 870-492-5113, if you are needing a place to stay on Norfork Lake. Hummingbird Hideaway Resort still has a few cabins available throughout the summer.
“Today (Wednesday) was the first day since last Friday that I have been able to get out on the lake. I had a pretty awesome morning of fishing. I started fishing around 4 a.m. and landed a nice striped bass at the second spot that I checked out. The stripers were suspended 30-50 feet down in 100-plus-feet of water. This fish was released and swam away very quickly. I moved to a large flat and found a lot of fish in 25-30 feet of water at all depths.
“On my first drop of a white trash Tater Shad, a big fish hammered the bait on the fall, but it broke off immediately. Must have hooked on the gill plate and cut the line. After that, I started to land one after another big white bass. When it became light enough to see, the fish seemed to vanish. I moved back into a creek and found a lot of bait up high in the water column. I checked a lot of areas in the creek and nearby coves, but never could find anything exciting.
“I started to head toward the resort at around 8 a.m. and decided to check out a deep bluff line with some rocky points. Over the next hour, schools of stripers came under the boat and I got to land five more striped bass. All swam away very willingly. My best bait in this area was the Binks 3/4-ounce spoon with a green back and white belly. The stripers wanted to chase the bait. I dropped the bait down to 50 feet and when the fish swam though at 30-40 feet, I would reel up as fast as I could. I would see three to five fish turn out of the school to chase the bait. Before the bait reached the surface one of the followers would hammer the bait. Each of these fish had lots of energy and would peel out close to 100 feet of line. I could see the fish surface in the distance.
“What great battles these fish gave today. I was sitting in 70-110-plus-feet of water.
“There was also quite a bit of surface activity. I landed and released several nice largemouths. Each time I saw bass feeding on the surface there seemed to be stripers under them. This isn’t the first time I have noticed these two species feeding together. I don’t know if the stripers are pushing the bait up or if they are just waiting for some leftovers from the feeding bass.
“The Skole group also had a successful morning fishing, landing several striped bass and largemouth bass. They caught their fish jigging a Tater Shad and also jigging a Ned rig. The surface water temp was about 82 degrees. The lake level is slowly falling and sits at 556.7 ft msl. The lake appears to be fairly clear.
“Have a great time on Norfork Lake doing whatever water activity that you love doing. Give us a call at 870-492-5113, if you are needing a place to stay.”
Lou posts almost daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.
(updated 6-29-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at power pool of 556.35 feet msl and 23. 6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater had less 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.
There has been much less 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 headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). John says his 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 out and can get quite 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.
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 6-29-2023) 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.