Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 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 November 2, 2023.

White River
(updated 11-2-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We’ve been served with an unexpected taste of winter for a few days. After a week of unseasonably warm weather, we’re now waking up to some frigid mornings. Expect more seasonable temps this weekend and into next week — warmer days and fewer cold nights, more conducive to spending time outdoors. Check the nighttime low temperature, rather

than the daytime highs, when planning your fishing trip; then dress in layers for the lowest temperatures and remove a layer at a time as the day warms up.”
Bull Shoals Lake is 5.5 feet below power pool and still dropping. Daily releases have included very low flows (less than one unit or 3,000 cfs) during the early morning hours, up to three or four units (9,000 to 12,000 cfs) later in the day.
It’s good to know that the air temp doesn’t affect the trout bite. Rainbows have been attracted to — and hitting on — pumped up nightcrawlers for the shore anglers. If you’re able to float the river and choose to fish a deep hole for a while, drop a hook with shrimp and garlic-scented PowerBait (try orange first) as near to the bottom as possible. Fresh river minnows are the ticket for good-sized ’bows. “We’ve pulled in some dandies this week: 21-inch, fat, healthy, colorful rainbows.”
Drift anglers had luck with a No. 5 rainbow and brook trout Rapala Countdowns and with one-sixth-ounce Rooster Tails, gold blades and orange bodies, and tan skirts. “Although we had some luck with the Rebel Wee Craw last week, this cold snap says it’s time to retire it for the season.
“We’ve had to fight for the browns all week long. River guides have tried all the tricks in their tackle boxes to get the attention of the spawning browns. Turns out the best bites were on small- to medium-sized sculpins and shad.
“Be careful out there. Stay warm. And keep anglin’. See you at the river.”

 

(updated 11-2-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said the rains Saturday and Sunday dumped a lot of rain into the Buffalo River Valley and Bull Shoals and Norfork lakes. Although the Buffalo River didn’t flood, it did dump a lot of muddy water into the White River. Norfork Lake opened all of its floodgates 1 foot, releasing additional water. As a result, by Monday the river was up over 7 feet and muddy and not really fishable. By Wednesday the river levels dropped to around 6 feet and the water cleared significantly. Fishing with Uncommon Baits UV eggs and shrimp worked the best. There was minimal success using artificial baits.
“If we continue to see clear and steady water levels, fishing should be good the next few days,” McCulley said. “This week we received one stocking from the Norfork Hatchery.”

 

(updated 10-26-2023) John Berry, veteran angler and retired guide/owner in Cotter, said that during the past week they had a couple of rain events that combined for an inch and a half in Cotter, cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady at 5.5 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 41.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 4 feet below power pool and 18 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.3 foot to rest at 6.4 feet below power pool and 16 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had less wadable water in recent days 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 msl 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 moderate 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 floodgates.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until Jan. 31 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park is 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.
John says, “On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. 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, “Now that I have retired, I have been quite busy winding down my fly-fishing guide business. The idea is to shut down any expenses associated with the business and deal with any equipment that was used in the guide service.
“My biggest expense was liability insurance. I canceled it when it came up for renewal. My wife, Lori, wanted to keep the liability insurance as she wanted to continue guiding and teaching. These would be half-day wading trips. She convinced me to work on half-day guide trips on Dry Run Creek with her. We therefore got a wade-only policy that was much less expensive.
“I will keep my boat to take Lori, family and friends fishing. I got separate insurance for it. You would think that a boat would be my primary expense. I am very frugal. Over 30 years of guiding, I spent $9,000 for three used boats (with motors and trailers). I bought good equipment and maintained it properly.
“I had several extra personal flotation devices that I carried in the boat that are no longer needed. I have an extra big one for large clients, a small one for children (kids under 12 years old and younger must wear a PFD at all times when in a boat). I also had a couple of spares. I will donate these to a not-for-profit.
“I have four Temple Fork Outfitter rods that I used for clients. I picked out the two best-looking rods and reels and set them aside for Lori and me to use. I bought new fly lines for them along with new leaders. Lori and I use them on our weekly fishing trips. The other two I set aside to sell. They are good rods with plenty of life left in them.
“My two boat nets (Lori and I both use them) were pretty beat up. They were both in bad need of repair. The handles are carbon fiber and are nearly indestructible, but the net bags have suffered a lot of abuse and are torn in spots. They must be fixed to prevent fish loss. I bought replacement bags from Amazon. They had everything needed to replace the bag and even had a video showing how to do it. It was an easy repair and only cost $70 to repair both nets.
“There are a lot of flies, more than I will ever use. These are special to me. Many were tied by my brother, Dan, or me. I will fish as many as I can and look for a good home for the others. My Yeti cooler, various tote bags and lunch gear will be repurposed to dog shows.
“Now if I can just figure out what to do with three dozen shirts embroidered with BERRY BROTHERS GUIDE SERVICE.”

 

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 11-2-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level is still at 653 feet msl. The water temperature dropped to 64 degrees give or take. Bass fishing has been up and down like the weather. Be sure to fish the conditions. It’s a mixed bag — you can catch them a bunch of different ways without one being better than the other. Looks like we’re getting some shallow fish creeping up. Fall fishing equals junk fishing, covering water. Use a buzzbait, spinnerbait, square bill, Chatterbait. The shad should pick back up in skinny water. I will powerfish if it gets cloudy and windy. Use a Rock Crawler and target steep transition banks.
The shad are ever so slowly getting grouped up in the creeks. There are wads three-quarters back in the middle of the channel or pushed on the flats, especially if there’s wind. I have found groups busting the surface down to 50 feet. Graphing can pay off. Get around bait and fish whatever is available: piles, ledges, swings, etc. … Beaver, shaky head worm and Jewel Jig in green pumpkin orange with red highlights are working for me. I seem to need some color in the water for this bite to be good. They seem to be holding onto ledges shallow if it’s cloudy, or in the 15-20 feet range while not munching shad. Most days you’re going to have to work for them. There are mega schools of smallies demolishing shad, but videogame fish can be tough to fool; try a small shad swimbait, a Damiki or Hover Rig with a Tater Shad.

The Jewel Scuba Spoon and Rapala Ice Jig are working for me if the shad are on the bottom. Every day is different; fish the conditions;
Walleyes are in the deep trees and humps in 50-60 feet. Crappie are picking up, hopping brush piles is working for some anglers. Try a crappie minnow under a float.

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 11-2-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort and Boat Rental said Wednesday night that the lake level was 553.24 feet msl with no change for 24 hours with no discharge from the dam. The Army Corps of Engineers are very reluctant to drop the level below 553 feet msl and both generators have been inoperable for months and they are working on the dam. The surface water temperature was almost 67 degrees last evening at 6 p.m. and the water looked pretty clear. Scuba Steve said he was not diving and it was hard to tell what was happening below from the surface. The cold ambient weather has dropped the surface water from 70 to 67 degrees with the cold temperatures. Norfork is a big body of deep water and does not drop in temperature as quickly as you would think. The shallower the water, the lower the temperature and the quicker it drops this time of year.
The fishing is about the same and is still not the best, but some nice ones are being caught every day. Crappie and Kentucky bass are the best bite over brush piles in 18-30 feet of water on the main lake. “Cold weather does not make for good fishing, but I am ready for the winter crappie bite and caught a couple this afternoon. Warm weather to follow,” Scuba Steve said.
Visit blackburnsresort.com and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily update.

 

Norfork Tailwater

(updated 11-2-2023) 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 msl 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 moderate 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 floodgates.
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 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. 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 11-2-2023) 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 very low. With moderate 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.