Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

February 1, 2023

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report February 2, 2023.

White River

(updated 2-2-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We continue to experience variable water levels in the tailwater of the White River watershed in Arkansas, from just under a unit (2,500 cfs) to four units (12,000 cfs) throughout the day.   Bull Shoals Lake is at 657.35 feet msl, remaining 2 feet below power pool. My guess is that demand for power has been pretty steady with the sleety, icy weather, so expect persistent fluctuation in the coming days.”
Anglers need to be creative in this situation; try some things you might not have tried before.   Trout will adjust to water level changes, but it might take a little time, so be ready to try several baits and changes in your fishing tactics. As always, worms work very nicely during the rise. Spinners and jigs are a good bet during lower water flows. Seasoned jig users know that they'll be successful every time if they have the right color. That's the key – finding the right color for the current weather, sky, water conditions. This week's favorites have been ginger, white and orange/brown.
Keep your bait mid-depth with added weight if needed. A bright-colored bead (peach or orange) tied several inches above the hook sometimes draws them in. To lure the browns as they move away from spawning beds, alternate between a good-sized sculpin and a really big river minnow – Red Fins if you can find them. Troll a minnow (live or manufactured) mid-depth 3-4 feet from the bank and be ready for the tug.
“Come on over and enjoy the river's surprises.”

 

(updated 2-2-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said, “We hope everyone stayed safe during the recent winter storm. Because of the storms last week and again this week there have not been very many fishermen on the river around Calico Rock. Those who did fish did well on artificial lures such as spoons, Rapala Countdowns and dark colored jigs. A few brown trout were caught that were between 19-25 inches. We also saw numerous rainbow trout in the 13- to 15-inch-plus size.
“With the reduced fishing pressure during the winter the fish have been able to eat and grow. Even the smaller rainbows had thickness to them. We have seen water depths between 5-9 feet with clear water. Over the next week we should see cool mornings but warmer temperatures into the upper 50s and lows 60s during the day.”


(updated 2-2-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that during the past week, they had 9 inches of snowfall in Cotter, brutally cold temperatures and heavy winds. “As I write this, we have a glaze of ice on all roads making driving perilous with more ice expected today.” The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 0.5 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 37.6 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 16.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.6 foot to rest at 1.6 feet below power pool or 11.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had no wadable water and moderate flows. Norfork Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest 0.5 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.7 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 still at or below power pool. With cooler temperatures, expect higher flows and less wadable water. Also expect heavy generation during peak power demand such as this week with the frigid temperatures.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam has reopened to regular fishing, and the State Park’s seasonal catch-and-release is over. Night fishing is now allowed in this area.
John says, “On the White, the hot spot has been White Hole. We have had some 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 cerise San Juan worm with an orange egg dropper.”

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.

John also said, “After a three-year absence, the Annual Trout Unlimited Banquet is back. This banquet is a fundraiser for the White River Chapter #698 of Trout Unlimited. This is hands down the biggest party of the year for anyone interested in trout fishing. I always attend with my lovely wife, Lori. I have gone to every one of them over the years and always had a great time.

“This year’s banquet will be held at the Elks Lodge at 101 Elks Way in Mountain Home on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. It has always been held there and it is an excellent location. There is plenty of parking, a very nice facility with a well-stocked bar, and enough room to dance.

“The cost is quite reasonable. A single ticket is $40, a couple’s ticket is $60 and a sponsor’s table is $600. The sponsor’s table seats eight and includes 16 drink tickets, a sponsor gift and public recognition for your sponsorship. There is a buffet and a cash bar.
“One of the big features is an auction and raffle. There are a number of desirable items that include a framed Duane Hada print (White River Grand Slam), a slate cutting board with a Trout Unlimited logo, a youth fly-fishing outfit (a four-piece 4-weight fly rod with case) and a wooden canoe-shaped book case and a walnut coat rack. Other items include gift cards from local restaurants, some fine bottles of liquor and some very nice art.
“All of this sounds like a great night out. That is not the reason to attend. You should go because we need to support the major trout conservation organization in the area. This is a fundraiser that supports their conservation and education projects in this area.
“Their lead conservation project is the planting of Bonneville cutthroat trout eggs in the North Fork and White rivers. Originally supervised by the late Dave Whitlock, this project is designed to introduce a sustainable trout species in these rivers. This would increase angling enjoyment and reduce reliance on stocked species.
“My favorite project is the Rim Shoals trail. They took a short trail at Rim Shoals and enlarged and substantially improved the trail. This gives us easy, safer access to more of this catch-and-release area. I have used this trail over the years and I love fishing there.
“Their education projects include a summer camp for local kids, and they put on trout in the classroom program at local schools. Both of these programs educate our most precious asset, our children.
“There were also projects to maintain Dry Run Creek and to develop access to Round House Shoals in my hometown of Cotter.
“To get your tickets to the Annual Trout Unlimited Banquet, go online to the White River Trout Unlimited chapter #698 website, www.whiterivertu.com. Lori and I already have ours. Don’t delay, space is limited.”

 

Bull Shoals Lake

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 657.35 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 659.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 695.00 feet msl). Flow on Thursday ranged from 3,700 to 11,110 cfs, and tailwater elevation was 453.30 feet. The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 914.20 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 915.00 feet msl; top flood elevation is 931.0 feet msl).

 

(updated 1-26-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said the Bull Shoals water level 656 feet msl, or about 2 feet below normal pool. The lake came up a little. Water temperature Thursday was 48 degrees, give or take. "Fishing is good. Shallow guys, there are plenty of fish on the bank. If there are wind and clouds, I’m covering water where the wind hits square on the bank – hopefully on a point, chunk rock, steep bank or ledge rock. I’m saying close to deeper water. A Spro Crawler, Wiggle Wart, Red Craw or green variations. You’ll have keep moving to find them, but when you do there’s usually a few close.
"There are always fish to be caught on a jig. If it’s flat, try sunny points with brush or ledges 30-40 feet. The winter patterns are working. Offshore video gaming. Shad are still spread out; target bigger bait balls and shad becomes the structure. Creek hollers, 50-90 feet overall depth. Every day every creek will be different. Watching the loons and graph time pays off this time of year. Use a single 2.8 white swimbait or jerkbait or flutter spoon around those high swimming shad balls. It’s usually best early or late in the day when shad are up in the water column. If they are being finicky, hang a Tater Shad over the side. For schooling fish, use a Jewel Scope or spin a Jigging Rap. Jewel Scuba Spoon for the bottom dwellers. Lots of different species showing up out there in the middle of the lake. 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

As of Thursday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake’s elevation at 553.05 feet msl (normal conservation pool: Sept.-April, 553.75 feet msl; April-Sept. 556.25 feet msl; top flood elevation 580.0 feet msl). Flow below the dam Thursday midday was 6,203 cfs.

 

(updated 2-2-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said, ”These are the conditions when I came in at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday: The lake level was 553.11 feet msl and had dropped 1.2 inches in the last 24 hours with both generators running about a third of the time. The White River at Newport is 16.49 feet and is as high as it has been for months. It is not coming from Norfork or Bull Shoals but must be from between here and Newport. The surface water temperature is 46 degrees, and the cold weather and mixed precipitation has not changed it much. Both the main lake and the creeks have the same clarity and you can see your lure down about 5 feet.
“Fishing is not the best but a few good fish are being caught every day. Crappie numbers are not high but they are good-sized on slip floats with live minnow over brush piles during the day and casting small jigs behind the brush near the shore when they come up to feed in the late evening. Black bass fishing is also slow but you can catch a few keepers on the grub near the shoreline next to deep water. A few white bass and smaller hybrids are together and on the bottom in about 55 feet of water around main lake points on flats. The lake is in excellent condition but fishing overall is just fair at best.”

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

 

(updated 2-2-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort had no new reports, but 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 2-2-2023) John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest 0.5 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.7 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 still at or below power pool. With cooler temperatures, expect higher flows and less wadable water. Also expect heavy generation during peak power demand such as this week with the frigid temperatures.
There has been 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 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). John says his 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 a bit better. 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.

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 2-2-2023) 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 much 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.