Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

November 22, 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 22, 2023.

White River
(updated 11-22-2023) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake is well below the desired power pool level, and generation schedules reflect that: minimum flow releases, then up to 12,000 cfs and anywhere in between, all in a 12-hour period. Bull Shoals Lake is sitting at 652.71 feet msl; power pool target is 659 feet msl. Be on the lookout for quick rises and falls in the water level over the next few days, and ensure you have the baits on hand to cover the changes.

Traffic on the river often slows down around the holidays, so now is a great time to experience uninterrupted fishing and relief from the fast lane holiday shopping/planning/running.

Always keep some worms to dangle when the water is rising — either red wigglers, nightcrawlers or the scented XFactor or Berkley artificial worms, doesn’t matter. When the water steadies and flattens out some, you can experiment with flashy spoons (hammered red/gold, one-sixth-ounce spoons work nicely) or, depending on water level, try flickering a one-eighth-ounce white or orange/brown jig. As always, scented egg patterns and shrimp will lure a good number of rainbows to your net.

Some of the guides find fishing falling water more fun because of the challenge it presents. The “bleeding” series jerkbaits make the challenge a little easier — played with slow sinking, wobbly action, you can watch the trout come up to your line and tease the bait.
The brown bite is slow but not nonexistent. Keep working a mid-size sculpin in the deeper holes and chances are pretty good you’ll get a hit or two.
“We’re still experiencing some nice daytime temperatures, perfect autumn weather to usher in the holidays. Coffee’s on; stop in and grab a candy cane.”

(updated 11-22-2023) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said this has been another week of varied river levels. There have been times of water as low as under 2.5 feet for over 24 hours, then spikes in water levels to around 5 feet (more or less). When the water was low, the fishing was great using artificial lures, especially quarter-ounce spoons. There was moderate success using one-sixteenth-ounce jigs in dark colors with splashes of red. “We don’t usually see a lot of fly-fishing on this stretch of the river, but some fisherman were having success during the low water with flies fishing where gravel bars drop into deeper water. When the river would start to rise, the water would get dingy and ‘trashy’ with a lot of moss and debris (leaves, sticks) in the water. We have had cool mornings with warmer days in the upper 50s and into the 60s. Starting this weekend we are going to see colder temperatures. We hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving with family and friends.”

(updated 11-22-2023) John Berry, veteran angler and retired guide/owner in Cotter, said the White has had much more wadable water with moderate flows recently in the afternoon during peak power demand. 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 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 said, “As fly fishers, we put our gear to use in a variety of conditions, which takes its toll. Often during a busy trip the broken item is set aside for later repair. I have so much gear I can do this and keep fishing. Due to my Scots-Irish heritage, I am frugal and want to repair my gear rather than replace it. I buy good equipment that lasts a long time as long as it is properly maintained. It is more economical in the long run. After my recent retirement, I took a serious look at all my gear.
“All of the better rods come with warranties. If it doesn’t have one, you don’t want to buy it. Whenever I break one of my rods (I have broken my share) I send the back to the manufacturer to be repaired. Over the years I have broken Winston, Sage, Orvis and TFO rods. All were repaired for a nominal fee ($35-$65) and took from a couple of days to over two months. TFO was the quickest and Winston took the most time.
“I had a broken reel, an Orvis CFO (worth several hundred dollars) with a broken frame (it got run over by a pickup in Yellowstone). I sent it back to Orvis and they repaired it for $35. It now functions like new. I took the remainder of my reels and carefully cleaned and lubricated them. I examined my fly lines and replaced the ones that were showing wear. I cleaned the remainder with Dawn dish detergent and warm water. I carefully dried them with an old T-shirt. Now they are all ready to go.
“I also repaired no less than three pair of waders. They were my loaners and all had leaks. I turned them inside out and sprayed them with isopropyl alcohol. The leaks appeared as dark spots on the waders. I then applied a dab of Loon UV wader repair (available at most fly shops) to each spot. This is a gel that instantly cures in direct sunlight or under an ultraviolet lamp. I carried the waders outside on a sunny day and they were ready to go. I also replaced the stainless steel wire laces in the BOA closure in my Simms wading boots a few weeks ago. I got the replacement from Simms.
“I had a couple of down jackets that had holes in them caused by a spark from a campfire that melted a spot on the outer fabric. I tried to repair them with needle and thread but they didn’t look too good. I fear that I am not much of a seamstress. I bought some Kenyon repair tape in the proper color at and was able to quickly repair the holes. It worked so well that I bought another package of the repair tape in the proper color to repair an old rain jacket. It worked great. You can hardly tell. By repairing your clothing you look like an old pro that has been around a while.
“My Fishpond boat nets were looking beat up. The carbon fiber frame was dinged but still serviceable. The net bag was much worse. A fishing buddy, Danny Sabo, had repaired his net bag using wire ties. That was a good, easy fix but my net bags were much worse and needed to be replaced. I had small fish slipping through the bigger holes. I ordered two new net bags from Amazon. I got a deeper bag to handle bigger trout. The bags cost $35 and I got two. They came with everything needed. There was a 6-minute video on their website. I watched it a couple of times, then easily replaced the bags. They look and function great.
“By making a few small repairs I was able to extend the useful life of some key items of my fishing gear and save some money in the process.”


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 11-22-2023) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday the lake level is still at 652 feet msl, 7 feet below normal pool. Water temperature has dropped to 61 degrees. “Bass fishing has been work! Be sure to fish the conditions. These colder days have the deep bite starting to set up a little better.”
He says t’s a mixed bag, you can catch them a bunch of different ways day to day. Powerfish if it’s cloudy and windy. “I’m going with a Chatterbait, spinnerbait or square bill in the warmed stained water. Use a red Rock Crawler when you target windy, steep transition banks. A buzzbait or Whopper Plopper, too. But if it’s sunny and flat and a bluebird day, pull the Robo drop-shot back out.
“Some of the late summer areas always hold some fish. Or target shad. Graph, graph, graph! Graphing can pay off. Get around bait and then fish whatever is available on brush piles, points, ledges, swings, etc. Try a Beaver or Texas Cowboy on a wobble, a shaky head worm in green pumpkin and a Jewel Jig in green pumpkin orange with red highlights. They seem to be holding on ledges shallow.

“If it’s cloudy or they’re in the 15-20 feet range while not munching shad, on most days you’re going to have 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, a Damiki or Hover Rig with a Tater Shad. The Jewel Scuba Spoon is kicking butt! The Rapala Ice Jig is working for me if the shad are on the bottom. Every day is different; fish the conditions. Walleye are in the deep trees and humps at 50-60 feet. Some are on the outsides of the deep shad. Crappie are picking up and anglers are hopping brush piles working for them. Stay off of them and try a crappie minnow under a float.
“Be safe. Happy Thanksgiving!”

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 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.”
Lou posts fishing reports almost every day on Hummingbird Hideaway Resort’s Facebook page.


Norfork Tailwater
(updated 11-22-2023) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said the Norfork Tailwater had wadable water. On Norfork Dam, 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 much of this week for Thanksgiving, and usual 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 11-22-2023) 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.