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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 12, 2022

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report October 13, 2022.

White River

(updated 10-13-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said autumn is here in full force in the Arkansas Ozarks with cool mornings and warmer afternoons calling anglers to the river. 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 in the afternoon.
Rooster Tails with orange bodies and gold or orange speckled blades are producing good catches. If you're not getting the desired result, turn to a dark colored skirt – mud brown, olive green or even black, depending on the area of the river you're fishing. Any of a variety of spoons will bring some rainbows to your net – the Thomas Buoyant red/gold and silver/blue, one-sixth or quarter-ounce, or the brass and nickel/gold Colorados.

Success this week was also found using the smaller gold/black or rainbow trout floating Rapalas. If your favorite bait is worms, wait until later in the day when the afternoon releases are increasing the river level and keep your bait near the bank.
The browns have continued to move into spawning areas as their season gets underway, but quite a few still remain in their favorite spots on the gravel bars downriver. The favorite PowerBait color is slowly switching from yellow to orange as we move further into the spawn. The mornings are beautiful and chilly; bundle up and head on over to the White River for some great fishing.
“Wade fishers are able to find a sweet spot near the center of the river and boaters will need to stay in the narrow channel, so there will be competing needs. It's breathtakingly beautiful these autumn days, so take care of one another, respect the resource and share the space. Hope to see you on the river this week. Fish Natural!”

(updated 10-13-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, says The fishing and the weather have been excellent. The leaves are changing colors. Spoons continue to be the go-to lure in the low water. Additionally, black jigs, rooster tails, lures with a spinner, and Rapala Countdowns have worked very well. Power eggs with shrimp, corn or worms continue to work well when the water rises. Since the weekend minimum flow from Bull Shoals Dam and limited generation from Norfork Dam has kept the river low with water at little more than 2+ feet in the morning and rising to 4 feet during the day. With this low water be careful when boating there are many rocks and snags now exposed or just under the water surface which can damage a boat or motor. There were not any trout stockings this week at the Calico Rock boat ramp.


(updated 10-13-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week, they had no rain, cooler temperatures and brisk winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.9 foot to rest at 2.8 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 38.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 6.8 feet below power pool and 20.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.9 foot to rest at 3.5 feet below power pool or 13.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had more wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the current lake levels, expect lower flows and more wadable water.
On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. “We have had lower flows in the morning that have been fished very 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 nymph with a ruby midge dropper.”

Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and 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.

John also said, “A couple of weeks ago I had a three day guide trip with two brothers. They were both retired. One had been a physician and the other had been an engineer. One lived in Georgia and the other lived in Texas. Both were avid fly-fishers and had fished all over the United States. My problem with a three-day trip was to make it interesting. We had consistent flows of low water.
“The first day we had very low flows on the White, less than half a generator. Basically it was too much to wade and not enough to float. My wife, Lori, and I had fished it and done well at Rim Shoals. We fished from my river boat. The idea was to concentrate on the main channel where the trout were concentrated.
“I rigged their rods just like I had rigged for Lori and me. I tied on a size 14 flash back bead-head pheasant tail tied on a jig hook with a size 18 ruby midge dropper. I added a BB split shot and a strike indicator, then set the depth of the rig at about 4.5 feet. We launched my river boat and headed upstream carefully dodging rocks. We began catching trout immediately. We tore them up ending the day with over 60 trout coming to the net.
“The next day we decided to try something a little different. The Norfork was on the bottom. We drove over early and were on the water at 7 a.m. The water was due to be turned on at 2 p.m. and we wanted to get a full day in. We decided to eat lunch after fishing to maximize our fishing time. I rigged them up the same way we had fished the day before. We waded far up into the catch-and-release section. We were immediately into fish. The big difference from the previous day was that the fish were bigger and fought more fiercely. We were surprised that we had the spot all to ourselves all day. At 2:30 p.m., I expected the water to come up any minute. I convinced the guys to walk out. As we got to the access, the water began to rise. It was perfect timing. We had another 60-trout day.
“The last day, I was concerned. We had two great days of fishing. How long could I produce great fishing like that? The conditions were the same on the White as we had encountered on the first day. We began with the same rig and had the same results. The guys wanted to fish grasshoppers and we rigged up for that. We tried for a couple of hours and did not get a single take. No technique works every time. Despite this we still ended the day with 50 trout.
“It had been a great trip and the brothers are already planning their next. Life is good!”

(updated 5-5-2022) White River Trout Club (870-453-2424) says the river is high and muddy and they have had no reports lately.


Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 656.17 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Total outflow from the dam at noon Thursday was 686 cfs. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 910.17 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl), with outflow of 20 cfs.


(updated 10-13-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday that the lake level is down more than 2 feet (656 feet at last check). The water temperature has dropped to around 73 degrees. Junk Fishing 101 has begun. We’re seeing typical fall patterns. The cooler nights have the shad starting to ball up. Turnover is still happening in the creeks. There are always a few shallow fish, so try a Chatterbait, square bill or spinnerbait in the skinny stained water early. There are a few fish there, but mostly small ones right now. Creeks up the lake seem to be further along and have shad further along and on the flats. Del suggests the early morning Plopper, buzz, or toad on channel swings, points and ledges covering water. Fish the windy side if you have any wind. Target bushes and rock transitions close to deeper water. The jig bite is starting to get better as the sun gets up. Target steeper banks and long points.
“For me, the deep bite has been best. Brushpiles are in play at 25-35 feet deep. Use a shaky head when the sun gets high. Move out toward the main lake and use a Jewel Football Jig in Bass Whacker or green-pumpkin blue. Keep the boat out around 40 feet.”

The drop-shot has been reliable with the pressure conditions.

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

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.22 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.25 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Total outflow from Norfork Dam at noon Thursday was 206 cfs. Wednesday saw 4+ hours of generation (5-9 p.m.) averaging 2,480 cfs.


(updated 10-13-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 553.23 feet msl and was the same Wednesday as it was Tuesday with just a couple of hours of generation. It has taken 17 days to drop the last foot with no rain since Sept. 6. “We are getting a little rain on Wednesday but not nearly what we need. It is very dry. The lake remains in very good condition and is clearing from the top down after the turnover and you can see your lure down about 6-7 feet on the main lake and the creeks are also clearing after being very stained.”
Bass and crappie remain the best bite “but I did find some nice-sized walleye (Wednesday) on a main lake brush pile in 27 feet of water. They were right in the brush just a couple of feet off the bottom. It was windy on Tuesday and Wednesday and blew off a lot of fall foliage and also blew the baitfish from the north-facing creeks to the south-facing ones. Brushpiles on the northwest side of the entrance to creeks are holding fish at various depths from 18-30 feet and the windblown banks have some black bass on them and a lot of smaller Kentucky bass. More larger black bass are being caught than at this time last week. A few small temperate bass are being caught trolling, with most being hybrids in the 2-3 pound range. Bluegill are on top of brushpiles and under docks and biting crickets.
Scuba divers are having some of the best fishing all year and are on the big crappie and walleye. The surface water temperature was 75 degrees in the afternoon and 74 in the evening after sundown. Drop a spoon in the brush and use a crankbait and creature bait on the windblown banks.

For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.


(updated 9-29-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Tuesday, “Norfork Lake has changed every day that I have been out. The surface temp is slowly dropping and the thermocline is dropping as well.

“I went to a flat where I had been fishing and doing quite well, but found that the fish have vacated this flat, no matter what depth I checked. After about 45 minutes of trolling and marking nothing, I headed northward. I found a large rounded point that was holding lots of fish. I landed a striped bass along with a couple mid-sized hybrids. Plenty of white bass were schooling in the same area. I found the fish in 42-45 feet of water on the bottom. My best bait today was the Tater Baits, Tater Shad in the white trash color. Previously, the spoon had been working the best, but today they only wanted this soft, shad-shaped bait with a chartreuse 3/8-ounce jighead. I found lots of bait from 35 feet out to 45 feet deep either on the bottom or suspended. There weren't a lot of fish in the bait, but they will find it soon.
“Yesterday, I fished a log along a bluff line that was stacked with crappie and bluegill. I landed three nice crappie and several thumper gills. I was using the Tater Baits Small Fry in silver flash with a 1/16-ounce jighead. One of our guests landed a nice striped bass and a bunch of crappie several days ago.”
The surface water temp was around 78 degrees Tuesday morning and the lake level is dropping roughly an inch per day and currently sits at 553.95 feet msl. The lake is clear on the main lake and stained in the coves. “Have a great time fishing Norfork Lake.”

Lou posts nearly daily on his Facebook page with photos and where the fish are biting and what’s biting. Check it out.


Norfork Tailwater

(updated 10-13-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 feet below the top of flood pool. All of the lakes in the White River system are now below power pool. With the current lake levels, expect lower flows and more wadable water.
There has been more wadable water on the Norfork in the morning and it has fished much better. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Grasshoppers have produced fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed 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 size 14 pheasant tail nymph and a size 18 ruby midge. The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.”
Dry Run Creek has fished poorly. School is back in session and the creek is not as busy. Weekends can get a 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; most fish are lost at the net.


Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 10-13-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low but fishing well. With cooler 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.