Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

January 10, 2024

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report January 10, 2024.

White River
(updated 1-11-2024) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Just because the air temperature is cold doesn’t mean the fish are hiding out, seeking shelter. Fact is, the end of the brown trout spawn is near and we’re seeing movement from the upriver spawning beds to their Cotter home grounds. We’ve experienced some mild precipitation and cold mornings, but the daytime temperatures usually warm up a little and we’re on the upside of short, winter days — meaning more sunlight every day.”
Bull Shoals Lake is still well below power pool elevation (sitting at 652.42 msl as of Wednesday), so expect low generation most of the time. As the continuing cold weather brings more power needs, however, the Army Corps of Engineers may release more water, so always keep an eye on releases for safe wading.
With the significant weather fluctuations we’ve experienced, you’ll be most successful baiting your No. 6 or No. 8 trout hook with a mashup of shrimp and scented PowerBait. The browns have responded well to jigs or beads, river minnows — especially red fin minnows if you can find them — and shad. Lunker brown fishing is just around the corner with the official end of the spawn, so unpack those Rapala Countdowns (or floaters for really low water levels): gold and black or the rainbow pattern. Another safe bet: Four-inch Smithwicks, black back, white bellies in February.

Trout fishing tip of the day: Keep a taut line, leave your rod alone as much as possible and refrain from reeling except to keep the line tight — until you get a bite. Listen to, and take advice from, your guide, even if it differs from the way you may have caught fish in the past. They want you to be successful and to catch fish!
“Happy New Year! Enjoy the great outdoors in The Natural State of Arkansas in 2024.”

(updated 1-11-2024) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said, “We hope everyone had a great Christmas and New Year. The mild weather and low river conditions have made for pleasant fishing. With the low and clear water, quarter- ounce Colorado spoons in nickel/gold worked well, resulting in some nice limits of rainbows and also some nice 20-inch-plus brown trout. Normally, fly-fishing is marginally effective in this area of the river but with the low and clear water conditions, fly-fisherman are reporting successes. Other methods that have been effective are using jigs (try different ones until finding what the trout like that day), Rapala Countdowns (again, try different ones) and Little Cleos in gold, gold/fire stripe and silver (on cloudy days).
The recent rains caused the river to rise and become very dingy. In these conditions, silver inline spinners with Uncommon Baits Neo Pink ultraviolet eggs tipped with shrimp worked best. Stay safe with the incoming rain/freezing rain/sleet/snow and brutally cold conditions. 

Dave added, “We will be at the upcoming Arkansas Marine Expo in Little Rock from Jan. 19-21. If you are there, stop by and say, ‘Hi’.”

(updated 1-11-2024) John Berry, veteran angler and retired guide/owner in Cotter, said that during the past week, they have had almost an inch of rain in Cotter, frigid temperatures (to include heavy frost) and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 0.3 foot to rest at 6.5 feet below power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 42.5 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell 0.1 foot to rest at 4.8 feet below power pool and 20.8 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.2 foot to rest at 8 feet below power pool and 17.6 feet below the top of flood pool. The White has had plenty of wadable water lately. Norfork Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 0.3 foot above power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.9 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines remain 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, the hot spot recently has been the Rim 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.”
John also said, “I was asked if I would take over club outings for the North Arkansas Fly Fishers. I did and decided to begin with something a little different, a New Year’s Day trip to the Spring River. When I was active in the Mid South Fly Fishers, we went to Lassiters, an access located in Mammoth Spring, for our fly-fishing classes and outings. It is fairly easy wading with plenty of room to move around, and since it is a natural spring-fed river it is not subject to generation. I learned to fly-fish there.
“As the day neared, I began to closely monitor the weather. I am a retired guide who is accustomed to fishing in inclement weather. My wife, Lori (still a working guide), and I have good gear for any kind of weather. I was concerned that it may be a bit cold for some members. The idea is to get them out of the house. Would you rather binge watch ‘Reacher,’ ‘The Crown’ or a few of the 47 bowl games we had this year, or go fishing. One of our attendees, Robin Curtis, said, ‘If you catch a fish on New Year’s Day, you will have good fishing all year.’ I was pleased to find the beginning temperature 34 degrees instead of the forecast 23.
“I loaded up my Suburban and headed out as soon as it was light enough to drive. It took about an hour and 15 minutes to get there. I was early but a club member was already there wadering up. It was 38 degrees. Lori was to feed and walk Tilley and Ghillie, our Labradors, and then join me at Lassiter’s with them. I began setting up lunch so Lori could begin cooking after she arrived.
“Other hardy anglers arrived and began rigging rods and donning waders. Eventually we had about a dozen fly-fishers, men and ladies. It slowly warmed all day. The fishing was a bit slow but there were several nice trout caught. The hot flies were soft hackles and olive Woolly Buggers.
“Around noon, Lori had the food ready and called everyone in. We had grilled brats and hot dogs, a variety of chips, potato salad, homemade cookies, Lori’s brownies and a Dutch oven peach cobbler cooked on-site. There was water and soft drinks, and several anglers brought thermoses of coffee. The high point of the day was all of us hanging around swapping fishing stories.
“I began cleaning up. I put all of our trash in a bag to dispose of at home. As I was loading my gear back into the car, I saw fellow anglers Danny Sabo and Bill Spain policing up the area, to tidy up where other visitors had strewn trash. I was impressed with their efforts. We were leaving Lassiters looking better than it did when we got there.
“I have already started planning the next club outing. Why not join us?”


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 1-11-2024) Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said Wednesday that the lake level is 652 feet msl, or 7 feet below full pool. The water temperature is 49-50 degrees. Bass fishing has been fair despite the cooler temps. You can powerfish if it’s cloudy, windy, by covering water with a Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart in red variations. Target wind-blown chunk rock banks and steeper areas with the ol’ jerky jerk Megabass Standing timber, bluff ends, channel swings and points always hold some fish. Look along ledges in 30-50 feet target areas by shad Graphing can pay off. Get around bait and then fish whatever is available: piles, points, ledges, swings, etc. …Use a jig in green pumpkin orange with red highlights. They seem to be holding on ledges or treetops, and shallower if it’s cloudy, while not munching shad. Most days you’re going to have work for them. Shad seem to be spread out, for sure, but holding in the 60- to 80-feet range regardless of overall depth. There’s mega schools of fish out in the middle: black bass, white bass, stripers, walleye, all shad eaters. Videogame fish can be tough to fool — try a small shad Damiki Tater-style bait in white or shad colors. The Jewel Scuba Spoon, Rapala Ice Jig or Jewel LS Spin — tailspin baits are working for me if the shad are on the bottom or large groups show up! Every day is different, so fish the conditions. 

“My crappie report comes via Crappie 101 Guide Service LLC: They are finding crappie in the creeks on brush still with some on main lake brush and timber. Range seems to be 10-20 feet in most cases. They are catching them using a ⅛-ounce jigs with Tater Baits, small fry Purple Monkey color, and on minnows.
Walleye are scattered along the creek channel following the shad. I am catching some around trees in 60-70 feet of water where the creek passes close to a steep bank or a point halfway to two-thirds in back of creeks. I’m mostly fishing the longer creek arms. I’m staying close to trees with spoons and jigging raps. Also, I have also been catching a few on Rapala Rippin Raps. Lure colors have been white or shad pattern.”

Del regularly posts new YouTube videos. Visit his YouTube site (Bull Shoals Lake Fishing Report) 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 1-11-2024) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort and Boat Rental said Wednesday the lake level was 554.02 feet msl and is the same as it was at this time Tuesday with minimum flow, and they did open up sluice gates a trickle. It is the first time in a long time. Both generators are still inoperable, and the No. 1 generator was to be in operation by November. The surface water temperature is just under 50 degrees and colder back in the creeks. The fish like the warmest water in the winter. The water clarity is not the best and Scuba Steve said he could just see his lure down about 4-5 feet.
Trollers are catching stripers in open water, while brush pile fishermen are catching some nice crappie and bass in 20-28 feet of water on main lake points. The best bite for crappie is just at sundown until dark. Some bass are shallow on shadowy banks in the evening.
He said, “Overall, fishing is above fair but not good. Some nice fish are being caught every day. It is a typical January bite. I am not looking forward to the upcoming cold weather but will keep you informed on what is happening.”
Visit and click on Scuba Steve’s blog for daily updates. 

(updated 1-11-2024) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said all species of fish in the lake are biting fairly well now. Lou also caught an AGFC-tagged striped bass on Sunday, while the white bass were feeding heavily gearing up for their upcoming spawn, he said.
Sunday was an awesome day for catching fish on Norfork Lake,” he said. “I headed to an area of the lake that I have not fished for over a month. It is a large, shallower flat that ranges 30-50 feet of water. The old river channel outlines three sides of the flat. At about 9:30 a.m. I found schools of fish in 47 feet of water. I started to vertical jig a three-quarter-ounce Binks white with red throat spoon and caught one white bass after another. I think in 1.5 hours I landed well over 40 fish. I ended up keeping a dozen of the big whites for the freezer. Fried white bass is one of our favorites.
“At about 11 a.m. I left the whites, which were still feeding, to look for striped bass. I thought they would show up in this area, but they never did. I moved a short distance away where the channel is deeper and found lots of suspended bait on the edges of the channel in 60-65 feet of water. I dropped a Bayou Magic Tater Baits Fishing Lures and Umbrella Rigs lure down to about 45 feet, which was right above the bait. All of a sudden I saw a school of big fish come through and one of them ate my bait, and the game was on. For the next two hours, schools of stripers and hybrids came under me and I was able to catch one fish out of most schools. The fish came through from 30-55 feet deep. There were some fish on the bottom, but they didn’t want to bite. I ended the day with five stripers and two hybrids! What a blast to catch. One of the stripers was a tagged fish, so it was a profitable fishing trip as well. The tagged fish was 12 pounds, but my biggest today was a little over 14 pounds. All stripers/hybrids were released on-site.
“I did not get to fish (Tuesday), so I guess I made up for it (Wednesday). The surface water temp was 48-49 degrees. The lake level is rising very slowly and currently sits at 554.04 feet msl. We had about an inch of rain on Jan. 8-9. I did make it out on the lake (Wednesday) afternoon to see if the frontal system had any effect on the bait and fish. I found everything to be about the same. In a very short period of time I caught one nice striped bass on a Bayou Magic Tater Shad and several of the huge white bass. The fish were staying about 55 feet down hiding inside of the bait. I was in 69 feet of water.
“I will be back at (Thursday) morning. If you are needing a place to stay, give us a call at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort 870-492-5113 for reservations. March, April and May are great months to fish Norfork Lake and the weather is typically a little more predictable.
“Happy fishing and enjoy Norfork Lake.”

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


Norfork Tailwater
(updated 1-11-2024) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said The Norfork has had wadable water. All of the lakes are well below the top of power pool. Expect wadable water in the coming days. On the Norfork, all turbines remain 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.
There has been wadable water, on the Norfork Tailwater and it has fished well. 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. The cold weather has resulted in less crowding. 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 1-11-2024) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are not fishing as well and water levels are low. With colder temperatures, the smallmouths are much less 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.