Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

September 27, 2023

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report September 28, 2023.

White River
(updated 9-28-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Perfect Arkansas Ozark autumn days — cool mornings; warm, sunny afternoons — are unmatched for making memories on the White River. Bull Shoals Lake is approaching 656.66 feet mls, 3 feet below the fall pool elevation of 659 feet mls. The current generation schedule continues to follow the pattern we've seen for the last six weeks or so: minimum flow in the mornings (very low), gradually increasing to over three units (9,000 cfs) in the late afternoon.
“The rainbow bite has been steady and plentiful here on the tailwater of Bull Shoals Lake in the Cotter area. Favorite baits: orange/brown or mossy/olive green jigs, 1/8 ounce, and Thomas Buoyant red/gold hammered spoons. Cast those spoons toward the bank, then use a slow and steady retrieval. Don't ever leave your shrimp at home. Tie that on with your favorite colored egg (salmon egg, Power Bait, fluff ball) and enjoy a lot of excitement.
“September may not provide the best catches of brown trout, but a sculpin drifted near the bottom can still generate the desired outcome. You'll never know how good an air-filled nightcrawler works until you try it. Get a worm blower, fill a worm with air, float it out there and watch the action.
“The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission’s Trout Management Program keeps our resource healthy and stable and our natural resources have stayed strong. If you've not visited Cotter before, come join us. The river will capture your heart.”

(updated 9-28-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said most of the last week they have seen depths as low as 2.5 feet and rising to about 6 feet. “The last few days we’ve seen lows around 4 feet and rising to 7 feet. With the varying river depths and conditions, fishermen have had to be flexible on how they fish. During the low clear water, quarter-ounce spoons worked well. As the water rises the water gets dingy, artificial lures don’t work as well and switching to drift-fishing with UV Eggs with shrimp worked best. Later in the day as the water stops dropping and starts to clear up, Rapala Countdowns CD7 in silver or gold worked well, as did ShadRaps in crawdad colors.
“The next few days we will continue to see some beautiful weather with cool mornings and temps rising into the upper 80s.”

(updated 9-28-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they had several rain events that combined for about an inch and a half, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.1 foot to rest at 4.3 feet below power pool of 661 feet msl. This is 38.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.7 foot to rest at 3.4 feet below power pool and 17.4 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 5.9 feet below power pool and 14.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had wadable water every day with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 2.5 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 28.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. 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.
John said, “On the White, the hot spot has been The Narrows. 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 Sowbugs. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. My favorite has been a Pheasant Tail (size 14) with a ruby Midge Dropper (size 18).
He added, “Last week my wife, Lori, and I fished the Rainbow Trout and Game Ranch in Rockbridge, Missouri (commonly called Rockbridge). This is a pay-to-fish resort located in south-central Missouri. It is located on a spring-fed stream and has its own hatchery. You can pay by the fish you catch or choose a catch-and-release option. There is a nice restaurant, a streamside tavern and a variety of overnight accommodations. It is known to have big fish.
“Lori walked and fed our dogs while I loaded our fishing gear into my Suburban. It was about an hour’s drive from our house in Cotter. We ran into some road construction that took a few minutes to get through. We registered at the lodge and were on the stream donning our waders by 9:30 a.m. It was a bright sunny day without a cloud in the sky. The high for the day was forecast to be 78 degrees.
“We chose to fish the catch-and-release option. The catch-and-release section is downstream from the lodge. The water was crystal clear and easily waded. There was a slow, mild current. There were a few other anglers but there was plenty of water to fish. We chose a pretty spot with high cliffs on the opposite bank and a lot of large trout.
“The fishing was unexpectedly challenging. There was a heavy midge hatch occurring as we arrived. I dug through my fly boxes and located some size 18 Adams Dry Flies. I struggled for a while but managed to land a couple of trout. Meanwhile, Lori was doing her best. She is a better caster and was able to land her fly near the opposite bank. She got several takes, but the flies were so small that the big trout easily broke off during a momentous struggle. She did manage to land a couple of large rainbows.
“I tried to fish a larger Adams. I then tried a Dave’s Hopper and a Woolly Bugger with no success. I then tied on a brown San Juan Worm. I was immediately into a big rainbow. I was fishing one of the rods we use when guiding on Dry Run Creek with 4X tippet. With the drag cranked all of the way down I was able to get the fat 24-inch rainbow into the net fairly easily. I followed with a matching rainbow a few minutes later. My next two trout were lost when they straightened out the hook. Both were much bigger than the previous trout.
Lori changed over to an Elk Hair Caddis and caught a couple more good trout. She then tied on a Crackleback. This was the ticket. This is a fly that I do not generally carry, but all of that is about to change. She landed some really nice trout on it. About then it was time to quit. We went over to the restaurant for a nice lunch and then headed home.
“Easy wading and big trout — what is there not to like!? We are already planning our next trip.”

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 9-28-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that lake level continues to fall. The lake is now at 656 feet msl, while the water temperature dropped to about 79 degrees. Bass fishing has been fair. The early morning topwater bite continues to be hit or miss. A small walk-the-dog-style bait such as a Zara Spook or Lucky Craft Gunfish will work. If they’re busting don’t put it away, though; they can go to the middle of the day. Typically September is junk fishing, covering water with a Whopper Plopper or buzzbait. Wind and clouds will definitely help that bite.
The shad have started their migration towards the creeks. Graphing can pay off; the shad are getting balled up way off deep points, channel swings, turns and creek intersections. It seems 32-40 feet is a consistent depth for the drop-shot. On the points, brush piles, ledges, etc. a big worm or shaky head worm and Jewel Jig are working. If the shad are around, you’re probably going to get bit.
It’s hoped they will generate some water at the dam. If you venture into the stained water in the backs most days, you’re gonna have to work for them. Target areas with shad. Use a square bill Chatterbait or a big worm in the laydowns. Overall there’s a lot of roaming suspended fish 20-35 feet over deep water (60-feet-plus). Still, these videogame fish can be tough to fool. Try a Damiki or Hover Rig with a Tater Shad drop-shot with a Robo. Fall Fishing can be hit or miss as conditions change. Walleyes stopped eating my drop shot. Some guys are still catching a few bottom-bouncing in 35-40 feet. Crappie guys are still hopping brush piles and that’s working for them they are starting to pile in. Every day is different; be sure to 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
For the Army Corps of Engineers’ real-time outflow report from Norfork Dam, visit the Corps’ Little Rock office website.

(updated 9-28-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said the lake level is 553.26 feet msl and stable with no discharge for the last 24 hours. Both generators are still inoperable. The White River at Newport is 4.15 feet and still low. The surface water temperature is 79 degrees and also stable with the very warm ambient temperatures. The water is stained green in the creeks and fairly clear on the main lake but also a little green with the lake turnover. The summer thermocline is gone and the water is the same down to about 40-feet where it starts to get cooler. Few fish are below 40 feet and most are between 25-35 feet on and around brush on steep river channel banks and main lake points. Kentucky bass and crappie are the best bite. Try a live minnow just above the brush for crappie on a slip float and a creature bait on a 3/16th-ounce jighead on the first drop-off for the bass or a small jigging spoon in the brush in general. Some walleye are still coming in but most are throwbacks. Temperate bass are scarce and catfishing is also slow with the full moon. The lake is at a good level and condition but overall fishing is fair at best but getting a little bit better with fish scattered, roaming and spooky.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 9-28-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 2.5 feet below power pool of 555.75 feet msl and 28.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days with heavy flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. 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.
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-head 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 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 despite a lot of fishing pressure. School is back in session and weekdays are not as 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 9-28-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are fishing well but are quite low. 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.