Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

October 11, 2023

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report October 12, 2023.

White River
(updated 10-12-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, Bull Shoals Lake is 4 feet below the established power pool elevation of 659 feet msl. This means we have some mornings of pretty low water, around 2,000 cfs, (less than one unit), with mostly gentle releases later in the day. It’s great for wading and bank fishing as long as you keep your eye on the water level; when the water is released it can sneak up on you and make reaching the bank a little tricky if you've waded to the channel or landed on a gravel bar/island. The river claims a lot of tackle boxes and gear, too, when rising water creeps up.
Trout catching remains good to very good with sunshine forecast for the next week — perfect fall days predicted. We'll likely run into some windy days as summer makes it's exit and fall is ushered in. Cold mornings and warmer afternoons will pull anglers to the river where nature will flaunt some gorgeous autumn colors throughout the Cotter area.
Nightcrawlers and red wigglers provided successful creel limits for many of our bank anglers, while sculpins continue to get some attention from the browns. Crawdads haven't holed up for the winter yet and are also a popular meal for both the browns and healthy, fighting rainbows.
The brown trout spawn season is nearing, and as we approach the shorter, colder days required for the spawn the browns will be tougher to attract. Annoy them repeatedly and you'll get some action if only in an attempt to make you leave. The favorite artificial bait this week was the Thomas Buoyant red/gold or blue/silver spoon. Jigs continue to entice a rainbow or two; find the right color combination for the day and you'll be busy netting a bunch.
Come join the action and enjoy the changing of the season.

(updated 10-12-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said that over the last week they have seen depths as high as over 7 feet and as low as 3 feet. The depth of 7 feet was due to Norfork Dam opening six floodgates for about 48 hours. Because the Norfork River had been so low before that there was a lot of mud and debris stirred up, this caused murky water in Calico Rock. During that time fishing was poor. The last few days we have seen water between 3-4 feet with a short spike to over 5 feet. During this time fishing has been tremendous. Drift-fishing using Uncommon Bait UV eggs with shrimp has been the most effective for catching rainbows. We have seen some success dragging sculpins for some bigger rainbows and brown trout. Rapala Countdown CD7s in rainbow trout or silver and black have also been effective as have quarter-ounce Colorado spoons in nickel/gold. The low water has made it difficult getting over some of the gravel bars, but it is doable. Watch the water levels and if you see the water dropping head back over the gravel bars before you get stranded on the wrong side and have to pull your boat over the gravel bar.

(updated 10-12-2023) John Berry, angler and retired guide/owner Berry Brothers Guide Service at Cotter, said that during the past week they had two inches of rainfall in Cotter, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.6 foot to rest at 3.5 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 39.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose 0.4 foot to rest at 3.1 feet below power pool and 17.1 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 5.4 feet below power pool and 15 feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had wadable water every morning with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet and 26.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are 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 catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam. 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).
John also said, “My wife, Lori, threw a small retirement party for me last Saturday. My brother- and sister-in-law, Larry and Terri, came as did their daughter, Brooke, and her beau, Jonathan. My sister, Ernestine, was not able to join us due to prior commitments. Lori and I am both crazy about Brooke and always enjoy her company.
“I first began fishing with her 20 years ago on Dry Run Creek. She was 14 then and was a member of the pom squad at Germantown High School (which competed on a national level). Now 20 years later and she is a Doctor of Pharmacy at the VA hospital in Memphis. She and Jonathon were just here for a short time so our opportunity to fish was limited. The water was on the absolute bottom and we should have waded. They did not have waders with them so we opted for a boat trip. Larry decided to come and net fish.
“We skipped breakfast to get an earlier start. The water at Rim Shoals was gin clear. The sun was bright with no fog and there was little if any wind. The forecast high for the day was near 90 degrees. There were a couple of boats out when we started, but they disappeared downstream a few minutes later. Then we had the place to ourselves. The only thing we heard was a kingfisher working the water.
“On the first drift, Brooke missed one. On the second drift, Jonathan landed one. From then on it was the Brooke story. She definitely had the hot hand. For someone who only fly-fishes only once a year she did very well. From then on she hooked a fish on each drift. She was able to bring most of them to the net. Jonathan was catching trout but Brooke was catching more.
“Then mid-morning she hooked a much better trout. This fish took a nice run. Brooke was using one of the rods I keep for Dry Run Creek. It has an Orvis reel with a heavy drag system that was cranked all the way down. She carefully took her time and expertly fought the trout. It finally surrendered to the net. The trout was an incredibly fat 19-inch female rainbow. It was the largest rainbow she had caught since her days fishing Dry Run Creek. We took a minute to grab a quick photo and then gently released the trout. We fished for another hour. Jonathon caught several but Brooke maintained her lead.
“It started to warm up. We decided to pull the plug and head back to the ramp. I put my boat on the trailer and stored my gear. We headed back to my house to drop off the boat and pick up Lori and Terri. We were headed to the White Sands Cafe for a late breakfast.
“Life is good!”

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 10-12-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake level continues to fall and is sitting at 655 feet msl. The temperature is about 73 degrees. “Looks like we are getting cooler weather. Bass fishing has been fair. The early morning topwater has been off. A small walk-the-dog-style bait like 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.
“Fall fishing equals junk fishing, covering water with a Whopper Plopper or buzzbait in the early morning or days with wind and clouds. The shad have started their migration toward the creeks. There are wads halfway to three-quarters of the way back in the middle of the channel. A lot of shad are still way off the long points. Shad balls are everywhere right now. Look for areas where they are bunched up. I have found groups from the surface down to 60 feet.
“Graphing can pay off in the 28-34 feet depths; that seems to be a consistent depth for the drop-shot. On the points, brush piles, ledges, swings, etc., a big worm, a shaky head worm and Jewel Jig are working, seem to have some color in the water for this bite.
“If you venture into the stained water in the backs, there are some shad there, but most days you’re going to have to work for them. Square bill Chatterbait and big worm and a Beaver-style bait are good around the laydowns. There’s a lot of roaming suspended schooling fish 20-35 feet over deep water still. These videogame fish can be tough to fool; try a Damiki or Hover Rig with a Tater Shad. Walleye have started trolling over deep shad. Crappie guys are hopping brush piles and that’s working for them as they are starting to pile in. Every day is different; be sure to fish the conditions. It isn’t easy fishing right now, you’re going to have to work for them.”
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 10-12-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort said Wednesday night that the lake level was 553.18 feet msl and stable for four days when he went in at 9 p.m. The surface water temperature was 75 degrees and the visibility had diminished just a bit with clear water down to 15 feet on the main lake and stained green in the creeks. The White River at Newport was 3.50 feet and still low, indicating not much water is being let out of the area lakes. Bink reports catching some stripers on the spoon in the 6- to 8-pound range back in the larger creeks in 90-100 feet of water suspended about 35 feet down; crappie and Kentucky bass are on main lake brush on windblown banks in 18-30 feet of water. A few largemouth and smallmouth are with them. Look for gravelly banks that have the wind blowing into them near channel swings. Catfish are biting better with the smaller moon and stable lake level, and bluegill are biting crickets under docks and in the shade. The lake overall is in good condition and at a good level, and fishing is fair and improving. Crappie and Kentucky bass are the best bite.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve's blog for a daily report.

Norfork Tailwater
(updated 10-12-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Norfork Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 0.5 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet and 26.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are 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). My favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan Worm 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. With school in session, 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. Be sure and carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.

Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 10-12-2023) 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.