Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 8, 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 9, 2023.

White River
(updated 11-9-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “After the arctic snap passed through last week, we had a gorgeous second summer with beautiful mild days, cool nights and amazing creel fills of colorful rainbow trout. The next few days will remain relatively mild but the nighttime lows will begin to feel more like November. Bull Shoals Lake is 6 feet below the targeted power pool of 659 feet msl, and releases from the dam are reflecting the lower lake level with less than one unit flowing around the clock.
“Low water means fewer places for our trout to hide, but it is also a little tougher to get to their hidey-holes and motoring requires more finesse. Even though November sees a significant decrease in traffic on the White River, all anglers — boaters and waders — will need to add patience to their river tackle and give each other space to maneuver.
“Successful catches this week started with mid-action spinners (Vibrax Blue Foxes were a hit, sliver with a blue blade or standard gold) and spoons (the always popular blue-silver Thomas Buoyant). If you prefer bait, the guides are using lots of nightcrawlers and backing them up with shrimp and orange or sunrise egg patterns. Pink and or red scented worms attracted a fair share of rainbows. We’re seeing healthy, good-sized rainbows with a lot of color, red cheeks and bright pink stripes.
The browns are not immune to bait now even during the spawn season, but they’re mostly striking in an attempt to get rid of the annoyance. Dangle a sculpin and you’ll get more attention.
“Thanksgiving weekend is just around the corner so we’ll be seeing more visitors to the area and an increase in river traffic. Additional care is called for along with those open arms welcoming visiting family and friends. We have a big river, wonderfully tended by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission with lots of trout, and enough room for every type and size of angler who visits. We look forward to seeing you and sharing fishing stories.”

(updated 11-9-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said that after the muddy water early last week the river cleared up nicely and fishing has been good. For most of the week we saw water slowly dropping as low as 3 feet Tuesday morning then rising again to 5 feet Tuesday evening. The water dropped again to around 3 feet between Tuesday and Wednesday. When the water was low and clear we saw a lot of fish caught using quarter-ounce nickel/gold Colorado Spoons. Rapala Countdowns CD7s in rainbow trout or silver also worked well where gravel bars dropped off into deeper holes. We have heard from some of the anglers of some very nice rainbows and brown trout being seen. Uncommon Baits Ultra Violet neon pink eggs with shrimp worked well.
“The weather has been nice but going into the weekend expect to see lows in the upper 30s with highs in the lower 60s. Deer modern rifle season starts this weekend and it would be good to hunt in the morning and then take advantage of the warmer afternoons to catch some trout.”

(updated 11-9-2023) John Berry, veteran angler and retired guide/owner in Cotter, said that during the past week they had no rain events, cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) changing into warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.5 foot to rest at 6 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 42 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 4.2 feet below power pool and 18.2 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.2 foot to rest at 6.6 feet below power pool and 16.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had less wadable water with moderate flows in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake rose 0.1 foot to rest at 0.4 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well 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 flood gates.
The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed through Jan. 31 to protect 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.
John said, “On the White, the hot spot has been Buffalo 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, “Frugal is defined as the economical use of one’s money or resources. My heritage is Scots-Irish, which is noted for being frugal. My previous career as a certified public accountant is well known as a frugal path of life.
“Twenty-three years ago I decided to change my career from accounting to trout guiding. I therefore implemented a plan to sell my house in Memphis, quit my job at Ducks Unlimited and relocate to Cotter to be a professional trout bum at the tender age of 53. I bought an old fixer-upper craftsman bungalow for $38,000 and set about restoring it, doing most of the work myself. I also decided to do as much as possible of the ongoing maintenance, like grass mowing and painting.
“I drive my automobiles as long as possible. When I moved here, I had a Volvo station wagon that I had bought used for $7,000. I put 380,000 miles on it before I sold it for $1,000. The word in Cotter is, don’t buy a used car from John Berry. I then acquired a used Suburban that I got 250,000 miles out of it before I sold it. I am now driving a new-to-me Suburban with over 200,000 miles. I buy good used cars and take care of them.
“I acquired most of my fishing gear through pro purchase programs. My best buy was my Temple Fork Outfitter signature two-piece, 5-weight, 9-foot rod. I bought four of them ($36 each) and have used them continuously for over 20 years as client rods. They cast as well as any of my high-dollar personal rods. They have a lifetime warranty that I have tested several times over the years. I keep them in my car, and my wife, Lori, and I use them more often than we do our fancy rods. They have landed innumerable big trout on Dry Run Creek without a problem. Never buy a rod without a warranty or you personally casting it for a while.
“I paired these rods with Orvis Battenkill reels made in England. They were spectacular buys at $80. When Orvis quit producing them, I acquired more at fishing shows or eBay. They are tough and reliable with a good disk drag system that will turn a brown. They come with a lifetime warranty.
“When I first started guiding, I applied for pro purchase programs for the big outdoor clothing companies. I was included in Patagonia, Mountain Khaki, Orvis and Simms programs, which allowed me to buy all of my fishing clothing at a significant discount. I then discovered that I could buy all of this gear much cheaper slightly used on eBay. I quit most of the pro purchase programs and now buy almost all my clothing there.
“Being frugal is a good way to save money that could be used for a deluxe fishing 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 11-9-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level was 652 feet msl, some 7 feet below normal pool, and water temperature was back up to 65 degrees. “Bass fishing has been up and down like the weather. Be sure to fish the conditions. It’s a mixed bag; you can catch ’em a bunch of different ways without one being better than the other! Powerfish if it’s cloudy and windy. I’m gonna with Chatterbait, spinnerbait and square bill in the stained water. I use a red Rock Crawler to target windy, steep transition banks. If it’s sunny, flat and bluebirds, pull the Robo drop-shot back out.
“Or target the shad eaters. They were getting grouped up in the creeks, then the water warmed up and they spread back out. There are wads three-quarters back out in the channel. I have found groups busting the surface down to 40 feet.
“Graph, graph, graph! Graphing can pay off. Get around bait and fish whatever is available: piles, ledges, swings, etc. A Beaver, A Texas Cowboy on a wobble shaky head worm in green pumpkin, and a Jewel Jig in green pumpkin orange with red highlights are working for me. I seem to need to have some color in the water for this bite to be good. They seem to be holding on ledges shallow if it’s cloudy, or in the 15- to 20-foot range while not munching shad.
“Most days you’re gonna have to work for them. There are mega schools of fish grouping up demolishing shad, but videogame fish can be tough to fool. Try a small shad swimbait, or a Damiki or Hover Rig with a Tater Shad. The Jewel Scuba Spoon or Rapala Ice Jig is also working for me if the shad are on the bottom. Every day is different, so fish the conditions.
“Walleye are in the deep trees and humps around 50-60 feet. Crappie picking up. Anglers are hopping brush piles working for them; stay off of them and 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 11-9-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort and Boat Rental said Wednesday night that the lake level was 553.33 feet msl and creeping up slowly with no discharge but minimum flow for over a week. The White River at Newport is 3.83 feet and dropping, indicating not much water is being released anywhere on the area lakes. “The surface water temperature was 67 degrees at dark (Tuesday) evening and I could see my lure down about 6-7 feet in the sunshine. The lake overall is in excellent condition and at a good level and fishing is improving.
Walleye are starting to bite in the late evening on a swimbait on shadowy banks, and the temperate bass are schooled and starting to feed in open water on spoons. A few crappie and black bass are still on the main lake brush in 18-25 feet of water but a little slow biting.

“It still looks good for a Thanksgiving fishing trip on Norfork Lake with the full moon on Nov. 27, which should move the stripers to the banks in the Cranfield Area and near the walleye rearing pond entrance at dark on the stick bait. Also try on the bank north of Thumb Point. Fish for walleye before dark and switch to stripers at dark. Make sure your 5-inch stick bait is running true before it gets too dark to see. The water is not cooling yet, but will with the cold front moving in; the fish sense when it is going to do so and start feeding. Cold water does not make the fish start feeding. It is not great yet, but is getting better — and it needed, too.”

Visit and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for a daily update.

(updated 11-9-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said he posts fishing reports almost every day on Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page, and what follows was published on Nov. 8:
“It looks like the beginning of the fall bite has begun. All species are starting to feed heavily as they typically do before the cold winter season. Our guests can see the fish activity getting better each day. The striped bass, hybrid bass and white bass have started to school up and can be found in shallow water out to about 50 feet of water. If you are out fishing very early in the morning, start checking out shallow water, less than 20 feet, and as the sun gets higher overhead the fish move out into deeper water. This whole pattern is based on where the bait is located. Check out large flats and also big round main lake points. If you are fishing in the afternoon, the fish will still be out in deeper water. The current magic water depth appears to be around 50 feet. At sunset the fish typically move up in the water column and also toward the shore following the bait. Fish will also be back in the major creeks, assuming the bait migrates into them.
“This is the time of year that the fish can and will be in many different types of locations. It takes a little time graphing, but once you find them you will have a blast. John and Joe, a couple of our guests, caught over 25 jumbo white bass Wednesday morning vertical jigging a 1-ounce spoon. Mike and Craig, two guests, told me they have caught all the predator species in the lake except for a smallmouth.”
The surface water temp is around 65 degrees and the lake is holding stable at normal seasonal pool of 553.3 feet msl. The lake is fairly clear to slightly stained back in coves. “It is going to be a lot of fun fishing Norfork Lake over the next several months. If you are needing a place to stay, give us a call at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort, 870-492-5113 for reservations. Happy fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”


Norfork Tailwater
(updated 11-9-2023) 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 0.4 foot below power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Tailwater has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well 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 flood gates.
The most productive flies on the tailwater 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 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 11-9-2023) 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 smallmouth bass 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.