Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 30, 2022

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report December 1 , 2022.

White River
(updated 12-1-2022) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said trout fishing the White River waters around Cotter in the Arkansas Ozarks as we go into December can be chilly, but cold weather fishing has lots of advantages, not the least of which is feeling like you've got the river to yourself. You might not see another angler for hours, but you'll always see some rainbows and very likely a brown or two.
While Bull Shoals Lake is almost 4 feet below its desired elevation for the season (659 feet msl) currently sitting at 655.08 msl, we continue to see fairly sizable releases during the cold snaps, so don't leave those heavier weights at home. Most the days are sitting at around minimum flow (600 cfs), but be careful while wading as the power demands have been bringing the river up to almost 5 units (15,000 cfs) at times. Have the Bull Shoals dam number handy or look at Army Corps of Engineers website to see current conditions that may have quickly changed.
Try adding some garlic scented egg patterns to your bait mix. Can't find it? Just include some minced garlic in a jar or package of artificial bait (doesn't even have to be egg patterns) and let it steep for a day or so. Remember, though, it is considered scented bait, not for use in a catch-and-release area. We've had some success this week with orange and brown flashy baits: maribou jigs, quarter-ounce during the higher water times, gold/orange Cleos, and Blue Foxes with an orange/red bell.
Sculpins are always a must for browns, but we've also seen some biting on river minnows this week.
When planning your winter fishing trip and checking the weather, study the nighttime lows as well as the daytime highs. Figure that your day will start at the lowest temperature from the night before, and it may even be several degrees colder on the water. Layer up and you'll enjoy your trip a whole lot more. We're looking forward to a healthy, safe Christmas season!

(updated 12-1-2022) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said that through Monday the river remained clear with water depths averaging between 3-4 feet. On Tuesday we saw a jump to 6 feet along with muddy water through Wednesday. Late last week and early this week artificial lures such as spoons, Rooster Tails and Rapala Countdowns worked well as well as drift-fishing with Sunrise-colored Power Eggs with shrimp or corn. The river was fishable with the muddy water by either moving into the mouths of creeks where cleaner water can be found. If possible, tying up to a tree and using corn can produce fish. Hopefully over the next couple of days the water will clear up and fishing will improve.

(updated 11-25-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week, they had sleet and snow (about a quarter of an inch here in Cotter), cold temperatures (to include winter storm warnings) and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.4 foot to rest at 4.9 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 40.9 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.8 foot to rest at 7.8 feet below power pool and 21.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.9 tenths of a foot to rest at 6.1 feet below power pool of 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had little wadable water and higher flows during periods of peak power demand. Norfork Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 1.8 feet below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater has had some wadable water.
All of the lakes in the White River system are now well below power pool. With the current lake levels, expect lower flows and more wadable water. However with the cold temperatures, also expect heavy generation during peak power demand.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through Jan. 31, 2025, to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park will be seasonal catch-and-release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.
On the White, the hot spot has been the Narrows. “We have had higher flows that have been 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 cerise San Juan worm with an orange egg dropper.”
John also said, “Recently my wife, Lori, and I went to a dog show in Springfield, Missouri. We were showing our champion Labrador retriever, Ghillie, in an effort to have him earn his grand champion title. When we left town the high temperatures were in the low 80s and the lows were in the 50s. We dressed for the warm temperatures. I wore blue jeans and a tropical fishing shirt. I was quite comfortable.
“I had a guide trip on Saturday, so I drove back to Cotter on Friday afternoon. We had each taken our own cars for the trip. When I got home I began planning for the guide trip. The first thing I did was to check the weather forecast. I was surprised to learn that the next day would have a 30-degree start time and a high of 40 and 10-20 mph winds, which would create some frigid wind chills. To make things more interesting, snow and freezing rain were expected Friday night.
“I scurried around the house to make sure that I had my cold weather gear close at hand. I hooked my boat trailer to my car so that I would not have to do that the next morning with frigid hands. I woke up early to find an inch and a half of snow and ice on my boat and Suburban. Luckily the streets were clear.
“I dressed carefully. Starting with long polypropylene underwear, I added flannel-lined khakis and a fleece sweater. Heavy wool socks and knee-high Muck boots protected my feet. A thick down jacket, heavy fingerless gloves and my extra warm Elmer Fudd hat completed my winter uniform. I put my electric handwarmer in my jacket pocket and went outside to scrape the windshield.
“I met my client at The White Sands Cafe three blocks from my house in Cotter at 7 a.m. We ate a hearty breakfast, drank a lot of hot coffee and headed to the river. The ramp was clear and the water was higher than it has been for several weeks. The Corps of Engineers and Southwestern Power Administration was running water to meet power demand for the cold temperatures. My client is also an avid duck hunter so he had the necessary gear and plenty of outdoor experience to handle the conditions.
“I went to rig his rod and chose flies that had been working recently, a pheasant tail with a ruby midge dropper. I launched my boat and we began fishing. We did two drifts and did not get a sniff. I decided to try different flies. I tied on a cerise San Juan worm with an orange egg fly. This is usually considered a high-water or winter rig. We drifted 10 feet and caught our first trout, 30 feet later we caught another and a few minutes later we caught a third. We stayed with that rig for the remainder of the day and landed 20 trout, with a few nice ones.
“I kept my down jacket on all day. It never warmed up. It was a brisk winter day two weeks before Thanksgiving. What happened to fall?”

Bull Shoals Lake
As of Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 654.37 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 909.33 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

(updated 11-25-2022) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Tuesday that Bull Shoals lake level is 654 feet msl, about 4 feet below normal pool. The water temperature is 58 degrees. Fishing has been good this week. Unseasonably cold weather patterns have given way to a comfortable afternoon bite. There is a notable difference in water clarity throughout the lake. There are plenty of fish on the shoreline. If there are wind and clouds, Del suggests covering water where the wind hits square on the bank, hopefully on a point chunk or ledge rock, close to deeper water. Go with a Spro Crawler, a Wiggle Wart or a Red Craw Stone Cold in the clear water; square bill, spinnerbait or Chatterbait is recommended in the stain. You’ll have keep moving to find them, but when you do there’s usually a few there.
There are still some bushes and rock transitions close to deeper water. There are always fish to be caught on a jig. Target flat, sunny points with brush 25-35 feet. The offshore deep bite is better. Shad are still spread out. Target bigger bait balls and shad becomes the structure. Look in the creeks and hollers at 45-65 feet. A single 2.8 white swimbait or jerkbait around those high swimming shad balls will work. If they are being finicky fish, try a Moon Eye with a Tater Shad. With schooling fish, a Jewel Scope Spin Jigging Rap. Use a Jewel Scuba Spoon for those bottom dwellers.
Each day is different so fish the 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
(updated 11-25-2022) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 552.32 feet msl and has risen a third of an inch on Wednesday with one or less generators running for most of the day. It is up 5 inches since the 1½-inch rain last Saturday. It is 1.43 feet below the power pool of 553.75 feet msl and has been very stable for several weeks. The surface water temperature is 58 degrees and has also been stable. The water stained up after the rain but has cleared back up again already. The White River at Newport is 4.74 feet, indicating not much water is being let out anywhere. There has been no attempt at a lake drawdown so far this fall.
The best ways to catch fish on Norfork at this time is to chase open water fish on shad in the morning and drop a spoon right on their heads, spoon or jig main lake point brushpiles during the day and work the bank in the evening until dark. White bass and black bass are feeding on shad along with a few small stripers and hybrids. Kentucky bass and crappie are on brush ranging from 30 feet of water to 18 feet of water near the bottom.
Some black bass are feeding on and near the bank in the evening just before dark on soft plastics and some larger crappie are with them. Fishing is tough during the middle of the day and the best time to be out is at sunrise and again in the evening just before sunset.
Overall fishing is just fair but some nice ones are being caught every day. There are a lot of baitfish out there and not anything is doing without many meals.
For a daily fishing report and lake condition go to and click on Scuba Steve's Blog.

(updated 12-1-2022) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said Wednesday, “I went to a different part of the lake this morning and had a great time. I found lots of white bass, four keeper-size largemouth and two monster cats (a flathead and a blue) on a large flat. This is why I really enjoy vertical-jigging on flats in the fall; you never know what you are going to catch. At one time or another and sometimes in the same trip, I have caught every species in Norfork Lake fishing this method at this time of year.
Chad Bleeker took a photo of photo holding the two cats and he said, "Hold them out a little." I think I was holding close to 50 pounds of fish and it was all I could do to just hold them up! The fish were in roughly 40 feet of water and absolutely stacked. I was vertical-jigging a three-quarter-ounce white with chartreuse back Binks Spoon. It was a cold, breezy morning, but once I started catching fish I warmed up in a hurry.”
The water temp was around 56-57 degrees and the lake level is 552.32 feet msl. The lake is still slightly stained. “Happy fishing and see you on the 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 11-25-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.7 foot to rest at 1.8 feet below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 28 feet below the top of flood pool. All of the lakes in the White River system are now well below power pool. With the current lake levels, expect lower flows and more wadable water. However with the cold temperatures, also expect heavy generation during peak power demand.
There has been less wadable water on the Norfork in the morning. 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 pheasant tail nymph size 14 and a ruby midge size 18. 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 11-26-2022) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing poorly. With colder temperatures, the smallmouths are less 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.