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Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 19, 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 20, 2022.

White River

(updated 10-20-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said trout fishing on the White River in the north-central Arkansas Ozarks continues to offer all-day action for anglers of all ages as one of the most productive trout streams in the country. Releases from the dam have been heavier these past two days than over the previous several weeks because of increased power demands due to colder temperatures. Bull Shoals Lake is below its power pool of 659 feet msl elevation, currently recorded at 655.59 feet msl. The average river flow is lower than one unit (1,000-2,000 cfs) but that is subject to change with the heavier demand.
The rainbow catch was abundant this past week – if you were dangling a worm. Nightcrawlers and red wigglers bested the bubblegum pink scented worm in this lower water; however, the XFactor white worm is coming into its own along with white, garlic-scented PowerBait. Lower water level also means finding the deeper holes and drifting over them if you're looking for the browns. Anglers last week had less success with the shrimp/PowerBait combo than usual, but found that alternating shrimp and worms over the course of the day provided more action.
The annual spawn is fast approaching, so don't be discouraged if you don't hook a brown every day.
“You'll enjoy your fishing adventures much more if you come prepared for Arkansas weather extremes. This week we experienced a couple mornings with temperatures below freezing and the afternoon sunshine bringing temperatures to the upper 50s, low 60s. Whatever the weather, we celebrate life here in The Natural State and always look forward to meeting fellow trout lovers.”

(updated 10-20-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said Wednesday that “the last couple of mornings Mother Nature has sent a friendly reminder winter is just around the corner.
“Although the temperatures have been cold, the fishing has been hot. Late last week through Monday we saw low water (2 feet) in the morning, slowly rising by midmorning to about 4 feet. The last couple of days we are seeing a little higher water in the morning cresting at about 6 feet before slowly dropping again.
“During times of low water, nickel and gold Colorado Spoons worked best. Rapala Countdowns (rainbow trout-colored) also worked well. Once the water reached 3.5 feet and higher, drift fishing with Power Eggs topped with shrimp worked well. In the last week there was one trout stocking of 1,000 or more 11- to 12-inch rainbows and an additional 1,000 or more 6- to 8-inch rainbows.


(updated 10-20-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week, they had about a half-inch of rain, cooler temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 foot to rest at 3.2 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 39.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 6.9 feet below power pool and 20.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 1.4 feet to rest at 4.9 feet below power pool or 13.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had more wadable water.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. 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,” John reports. “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.”
John also said, “After four years of high water, we finally have all of our lakes Levels well below flood pool and are now comfortably in power pool. When this occurs, control over generation changes from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (during the Vietnam war I was a lieutenant in the Corps of Engineers) to the Southwestern Power Administration.
“When the Corps of Engineers is in control its only thought is to get rid of the water as quickly as it can. SWPA, however, is more interested in selling the power generated during hours of peak power demand. Hence we are getting increased generation on the White and Norfork during the afternoon hours when power demand is greatest with little or no generation in the morning when power demand is less.
The reality of low water has been a mixed bag. On the White, most of the low water has been around 1,500 cfs or the rough equivalent of a bit less than half of one full generator. Before minimum flow, low water was just 50 cfs. With minimum flow, low water is 700 cfs, a significant increase that is marginally wadable at best.
“The 1,500 cfs is way too much to wade and, worse, it is not enough to float particularly if you have a propeller driven motor. I have been fortunate enough to find a nice section of the White River where I can get a decent drift. Even better, it is loaded with trout. The problem is that I am very limited as to where I can go. It is too high to wade and not high enough to drift. I have already torn up one propeller navigating through it. I always carry a spare prop and the tools to install it.
“The Norfork has been a different story. There has been plenty of low water. With minimum flow at 200 cfs it is quite wadable. The problem is that SWPA has scheduled a brief flow of maybe half a generator, or about 1,500 cfs or more, for an hour halfway through the morning. This is too much to wade and you have to get out of the river and wait a few hours for the water to drop out.
“The other problem is an unreliable schedule. I was scheduled to take my clients on a wade trip on Tuesday this week. They went wade fishing on Monday and got surprised when the water came up two hours early. They requested that I take them out in the boat on the White because they were concerned about the schedule on the Norfork. We went out on the White and did well.
“We do have wadable water but you need to be very careful. It could be too much to wade and not enough to float.”


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 10-20-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Thursday that the lake level is down more than 3 feet (655 feet at last check). The water temperature has dropped to around 70 degrees. Junk fishing with typical fall patterns in ongoing. The cooler nights have the shad starting to ball up and moving out to deeper water. Turnover is still happening in the backs of creeks. There are always a few shallow fish, so try a Chatterbait square bill spinnerbait or flipping brush in the skinny stained water in the early morning. There’s a few fish there, but hit or miss. Try a rock crawler on the channel swings on points and ledges. 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 goes up. Target steeper banks.

‘For me, the deep bite is still the best. Drop shot Damiki with a tater shad spoon or a Robo-worm 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 10-20-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 552.93 feet msl and has dropped 1.5 inches in the last 24 hours with several hours of running three-quarters of a generator. The White River at Newport is 2.75 feet, which is very low, indicating not much is being released into the White or North Fork rivers. It was very windy most of the week with the powerful cold front but it is sunny and cool now (Wednesday) with lighter winds. Highs are to get near 70 tomorrow (Thursday) and near 80 for the weekend. The surface water temperature has dropped to right at or just under 70 degrees with the cold clear nights. The wind and white caps stirred up the water a bit but it is still pretty clear and you can see your lure down about 6-7 feet on the main lake. Several schools of shad have moved into the area around Mallard Point to Cranfield Island and some smaller hybrid stripers and white bass are chasing them. They start off shallow from 20-25 feet of water early and then go deeper as the sun rises. Spoons jigged vertically are best, but trollers dragging umbrellas are also catching a few. Some black bass are with them. It is either feast or famine for the crappie. They go from not biting for several hours and then start fast for about an hour.
“I have had the best luck about 4-5 p.m. casting a Bobby Garland Jig on a 1/16th-ounce white with red eye jighead past the brush from 18-30 feet of water and letting it sink into it for about 10-15 feet. Crappie are mostly biting on the drop. When they quit, they quit.”
Jug fishermen are catching some catfish partway back in the creeks on live bluegill and they are biting better as the moon wanes. New moon is Oct. 25.
Walleye are on main lake points and are shallower than last week. They have paired up and are roaming but not too far from brushpile to brushpile looking for bait fish. Both scuba divers and spooners are doing well on them. The numbers are not high, but they are good-sized, ranging 20-24 inches.
Overall fishing is just fair but it has its moments.

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


(updated 10-20-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no new report. 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 10-20-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.6 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.8 feet below the top of flood pool. There has been more wadable water on the Norfork in the morning and it has fished a 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 eighteen 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, as most fish are lost at the net.


Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek

(updated 10-20-2022) 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.