Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 15, 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 16, 2023.

White River
(updated 11-16-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Daily water releases from Bull Shoals Dam into the teeming White River Tailwater have been extremely variable throughout the last week: minimum flow during the early morning followed by higher generation (up to four units or 12,000 cfs) in the later morning before dropping back to minimum flows for the afternoon. Bull Shoals Lake is 8 feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet msl elevation, currently sitting at 652.77 feet msl as of midweek.
“Can an angler really get tired of catching fish? Some folks have been heard to say their casting arms are worn out from reeling in so many rainbows. Imagine that! But that’s been the case here on the White River in our breathtakingly beautiful Arkansas Ozarks.
If you prefer bait, the guides have found red wiggler worms to be the ticket. Backing them up with shrimp and peach, orange or sunrise egg patterns adds to the count. For a little more challenge, but still bringing a lot of trout to the boat, anglers have been casting spinners. Under an overcast, cloudy sky, work a Rooster Tail with a gold blade, pink body or a Blue Fox with a rainbow blade, gold bell. But when the sun comes out, put the artificial baits away and return to the scented or live baits.
“The brown bite remains fickle; your best bet is to get your hands on fresh river minnows or varied sizes of sculpins and dangle them near the bottom.
“It’s easy to see all that we have to be thankful for as we look around the hills and waterways here in the Ozarks, so take special care this holiday season with the resources and with one another. Respect the gifts we’ve been given and enjoy all The Natural State has to offer.”

(updated 11-16-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said they have seen varied river levels from as low as less than 2.5 feet Sunday morning through Monday evening to as high as almost 6 feet Tuesday morning. The sudden rise in water from Monday to Tuesday resulted in dingy water with a lot of moss and small debris. When the water was below 4 feet and clear, throwing Colorado quarter-ounce spoons and shallow-diving lures worked well. With the deeper water, drift-fishing with eggs and shrimp worked well. Some guides have reported success using olive-colored 1/16-ounce jigs.
“This weekend we are expecting some nice days with mornings in the upper 30s and highs in the 60s, perfect time to get out on the river and catch some trout. This week we received one stocking at the Calico Rock boat ramp of 2,400 rainbow trout. With the reduced fishing pressure this winter, some of those trout should have the chance to grow into some fat 13-inch-plus rainbows by spring.

(updated 11-16-2023) John Berry, veteran angler and retired guide/owner in Cotter, said that during the past week they had no measurable rain, cool temperatures, and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.3 foot to rest at 6.3 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 42.3 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.5 foot to rest at 4.7 feet below power pool and 18.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.4 foot to rest at 7 feet below power pool and 16.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had much more wadable water with moderate flows this past week in the afternoon during peak power demand. Norfork Lake remained steady 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 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 floodgates.

The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam is closed until 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. On Feb. 1 this section will open to fishing.
John says that on the White this week, 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 size 14 pheasant tail with a size 18 ruby midge dropper.”
He also opined, “Last week I took my wife, Lori, on our weekly fishing trip. It was a cold start. When I was hooking up my boat and removing my boat cover I noticed that the boat was covered with a heavy coat of frost. The light down sweater that I was wearing was not up to the job and I got chilled. I went in the house and told Lori it was pretty cold and she should dress warmly to walk the dogs and then join me on the stream. I put on my warmest down jacket, grabbed a Yeti tumbler full of hot coffee and headed toward the river.
“I prepared the boat to launch and, for the first time this season, I put on my wool fingerless gloves and my warm insulated fishing hat. I was glad that I had put on my warmest jacket. I pulled out two fly rods that were already rigged and put them in the boat. One was rigged with a Pheasant Tail Nymph with a Ruby Midge dropper; the other had a Blob Fly (a conical egg pattern) with a Ruby Midge dropper. I did adjust the strike indicators for the low water conditions. They were running about 1,500 cfs, or a bit less than half a generator.
“I launched my boat, parked my Suburban, got aboard and headed upstream. Before I had begun my first drift I heard my iPhone. Lori was on the ramp ready to fish. I motored down and picked her up. She got in and we headed out.
“On our first drift, I picked up a nice rainbow on the Pheasant Tail nymph. I was thinking that this was going to be the hot fly. I was wrong. On the next three drifts, Lori picked up three fish on the Blob while I caught none. I have always said one fish is a fluke, two is a coincidence and three is a trend. It became evident that the Blob was out producing the Pheasant Tail nymph. It was time to change flies.
“I stopped fishing and clipped the dropper and the Pheasant Tail off. I then tied on a Blob and put the tippet holding the Ruby Midge on the bend of the Blob’s hook. All of this took a few minutes. Lori continued fishing and caught another nice fat rainbow. That was tough, changing flies with cold hands, while your fishing buddy is doing a little too well.
“I returned to fishing and was immediately into a nice one. It was worth the effort. The Blob was hot and I was catching fish after fish. Lori continued her success. Once when releasing a trout I noticed that I had lost my dropper. Neither one of us had caught a trout on the Ruby Midge. I decided to go with just the Blob and clipped off the remnant of the dropper tippet. I continued fishing and did well. We didn’t count but we had all we could handle. By the time we headed home, it was a bit warmer.
“Something as simple as a fly change can make a big difference.”


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 going 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 going to 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 11-16-2023) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort and Boat Rental said the lake level is 553.36 feet msl and has been the same since last week’s report with no discharge from the dam except for minimum flow. Both generators are still inoperable. As of 6 p.m. Wednesday the surface water temperature was 64 degrees and stable with the warm ambient temperatures and the White River at Newport was 3.32 feet and very low, indicating not much water is being let out anywhere in the White River. The clarity is good on the main lake and I could see my lure down about 5-6 feet in the warm sunshine and the creeks are stained a bit but not bad. The lake level and water conditions are both excellent, but fishing overall is just fair at best.
A few temperate bass are being caught in open water at varying depths depending on the time of day on the jigging spoon but not very many and not very big. Some crappie, black bass and walleye are biting on brush in 18-25 feet of water on live bait on a slip float about 5 feet further down than you can see your bait.
There are more baitfish than predator fish, and feeding fish are hard to find, but a few good ones are being caught every day. Bluegill are the best bite now and some are very nice-sized. The weather is supposed to cool next week, and later this weekend the fishing might get better but I cannot guarantee anything. It is just nice to be out there in the warm sunshine and catch a few fish.
Visit and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for daily updates.

(updated 11-9-2023) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said, “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 stain 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.”
Lou posts fishing reports almost every day on Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page.


Norfork Tailwater
(updated 11-16-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Norfork Lake remained steady 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 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 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 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 in session, though it will be out some of next week, and weekdays tend to be 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 11-16-2023) 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.