Cotter Trout Dock Sign

Cotter Trout Dock Weekly Fishing Report

February 7, 2024

More reports and other videos are on the Cotter Trout Dock Youtube Channel Page.
Below is the Arkansas Game and Fish Fishing Report February 7, 2024.

White River

(updated 2-8-2024) Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “Let’s go fishing. Bull Shoals Lake elevation is 655.60 feet msl, nearly 3 feet above where it was a couple of weeks ago, still about 3 feet below power pool. Temperature looks to remain mild with cold mornings, then very comfortable throughout the remainder of the day. Over the last week, generation has fluctuated a lot during each day, from minimum flow (700 cfs) to four units (12,000 cfs) or more and back again. The water level can change very quickly — don’t be caught unawares. 

“If you’re looking to fish low water, schedule your river time for early morning hours and wiggle a quarter-ounce spinner with a white tail and gold or bronze blade mid-depth to just below topwater. As the water rises (around 11 a.m. in the Cotter area), move to a red wiggler worm or nightcrawler for the next hour or two. Then, when the water reaches its peak, try angling a 4- to 5-inch jerkbait. Best bet right now is a white-bellied lure with a blue or mossy green back.”

The special regulations for the brown trout spawn have ended; you’ll encounter heavy boat traffic near the dam. Be considerate of your fellow anglers during this annual hunt for browns as they return to their home ground. “Looks like it’s going to be a busy February in our territory, but there’s always coffee enough for everybody. Stop by and say, ‘Hi’; we’re glad you’re here.”

(updated 2-8-2024) Dave McCulley, owner of Jenkins Fishing Service in Calico Rock, said, “Other than the rain Saturday night and Sunday, we have seen some nice weather for February. Once again the rains caused the Buffalo River to rise, resulting in water levels over 9 feet and dirty water in Calico Rock on Monday and Tuesday this week. By Wednesday the water had significantly cleared.
“Fishing has been good the last couple of weeks for both rainbows and browns. What has worked for rainbows is using two Uncommon Baits NeoPink ultraviolet eggs with shrimp. We have seen some success with other colors, but the NeoPink seems to work the best. For both browns and rainbows, throwing Rapala Countdowns in either brown trout or rainbow trout colors has worked well. An alternate Countdown color to try is silver. We have seen several brown trout over 20 inches landed, including a 27-inch and 29-inch fish. 

(updated 2-1-2024) John Berry, veteran angler and retired guide/owner in Cotter, said the White has had a lot of wadable water. The catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam has reopened after being closed for three months for the brown trout spawn. Night fishing in the area is allowed now, too. On the White, the hot spot has been The Narrows. They 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. John says his favorite has been a San Juan Worm with an egg dropper with plenty of lead.

John also said, “Recently, I wrote a column about a fishing buddy that had a bad day, which included him falling and breaking his rod. I had breakfast with him today and explained that I was not trying to demean him in any way, but to show other anglers that this happens to all of us. In fact, during breakfast I began going through the list of my broken rods. It was longer than I imagined. It should be noted that better fly rods and reels come with significant warranties and ask few questions about what happened. There is a handling fee.
“The first rod I broke was my first fly rod, a Fenwick fiberglass rod. I was parked in the pasture at McClellan’s trout dock and I accidently closed the hatch of my Bronco on it, turning a two-piece fly rod into a three piece. By this time, I was beginning to fish only graphite fly rods and I did not bother to have it repaired.
“The next rod I broke was a Sage graphite rod with an Orvis CFO reel. I was fishing the upper Yellowstone River in Yellowstone National Park. At the end of the day I put my rod and reel on top of the Rent a Wreck we were using. I stowed the rest of my gear in the car and we drove off. The rod and reel were still on the roof of the car. I heard a clunk and turned to watch in horror as a pickup ran over my rod and reel. It was a mess. I sent the rod to Sage and it cost $25 and took three months to fix my rod and $10 and a couple of weeks to replace my reel.
“Next I put a Sage rod into a ceiling fan in a motel room in Mammoth Spring before a night-fishing trip to the Spring River. It cost $30 this time to get it repaired.
“Unfortunately my next victim was my wife’s Orvis. It is Lori’s first rod and she loves it. I closed the hatch of my Volvo station wagon on it. That one cost me $35 and took two months.
“I broke a Temple Fork Outfitter rod on a kayak float trip down the Norfork Tailwater. I had attached the rod to the boat to prevent its loss. We sought shelter in a covered dock to escape a heavy pop-up thunderstorm where I accidently banged against the dock, which snapped the tip off. It took $25 and a week to get the rod repaired.
“My clients accounted for four TFOs that I use for my client rods. They were broken on fish, on the deck of the boat, wading the White and just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The cost to repair them rose from $25 to $48 over time but they still take a week to repair.
“Finally, there is a Winston rod. For the life of me, I cannot remember the incident. I only remember that it took a long time to get it back.
“In fly fishing, your rods take a hit. They are fragile, but most rods can be repaired at little cost and a bit of time.”


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 2-8-2024) Fishing guide Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake said Wednesday’s lake level was 655 feet msl, while the water temperature was 48 degrees. “Bass fishing has slowed with the movement of baitfish. I’ll go over what’s working for me:
“Powerfish if it’s cloudy, rainy and windy, covering water with a Rock Crawler or Wiggle Wart in red variations. Don’t rule out a flat-sided as well. Look for windblown, shady, ledgy or chunk rock banks and steeper swings. You can always catch ’em on a jig in green pumpkin variations and PB&J. Try piles and ledges close to shad balls. Graphing can pay off. Get around bait and then fish whatever is nearby — treetops, points, ledges, swings, etc.
“Shad seem to have spread out and are moving back into the bigger creel arms. They are holding down in the 80-100 feet range regardless of the overall depth. Some shad balls have broken off and are high in the water column. Some bass left them as they went deep and some are holding above them at 30-60 feet.
“The video game fish can be tough to find and to fool; try a small shad Damiki, Tater Shad or Thump Shad and change the head size accordingly. White or shad colors are working for me. Loons and gulls are in the area; you better pay attention. The Jewel Scuba Spoon is fooling a few as well as a Rapala Ice Jig, especially if the shad are on the bottom or large schools show up! Every day is different and it is February, so fish the conditions.” 

Crappie 101 Guide Service says crappie are still pretty scattered in the creeks and main lake. Main lake fish are super scattered, but if you find them, they’re usually great quality. Minnows have been working well and the jig bite has definitely picked up, also. Brush piles have been probably the best areas of late. A ⅛- or 1/16-ounce jig paired with natural bait colors has been the best.
Southern Walleye Guide Service reports that the walleye are scattered along creek channels following the shad. I am catching some around trees in 60-80 feet of water where the creek passes close to a steep bank or a point halfway to two-thirds back of creeks. Mostly fishing the longer creek arms, 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 2-1-2024) Steven “Scuba Steve” Street at Blackburn’s Resort and Boat Rental said the lake level was 554.78 feet msl and had dropped 1.3 inches in the last 24 hours with sluice gates open equal to one generator at 7 p.m. Wednesday. They did have one generator running for a couple of days after being down for several months but shut it off again. The other generator is still inoperable. They have been very reluctant to drop the level lower than the top of the power pool, which is 553.75 feet msl. The White River at Newport is 20.36 feet and very high, indicating a lot of water is going into the river but it is starting to recede. The surface water temperature is 45 degrees and the visibility is not the best and you can only see your lure down about 4 feet. It is clearer near the shore. 

There are a lot of striper fishermen trolling around the Howard Cove area and catching a few small ones in the 5- to 8-pound range in open water on shad, and there are some black bass and white bass with them. “I have been mostly brush pile fishing for crappie and bass and the fishing has been poor during the day and fair in the evening. There is a bite from sundown to dark on jigs and grubs tipped with minnows casting past the brush and letting it sink into it. Some big crappie are being caught but not a lot. The bass fishing is getting better but not good yet. I am glad January is over. The frost is out of the ground.”

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

(updated 1-25-2024) Lou Gabric at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort said it’s a great time to fish the deep water as you never know what you are likely to catch. All species are out chasing baitfish.The photos on our Facebook page from this week are just a sample of what I was catching on Tuesday. It sure feels great being able to be back on the lake after the deep freeze, even with the fog. I was mainly dead sticking a White Trash Tater Baits – Fishing Lures and Umbrella Rigs in about 90 feet of water. I found fish in three different locations. All locations were close to the main lake old river channel.
“My first fish, caught early morning, was a striped bass and he hit the bait on the fall at about 40 feet down. There were other scattered fish in this area but I didn’t see any schools. The second area, mid-morning, I caught another striped bass. He was sitting inside of a bait ball 60 feet down. The third area, late morning, held a lot of bait and good schools of striped/hybrid bass came under me 45-65 feet deep. I landed three hybrids in this area, all on a very slow reel up through the school. The 25-pound catfish was below the bait 75 feet down. He absolutely hammered the Tater Shad. After I netted this fish, I found the hook was almost straightened out. I don’t know how he didn’t come loose.
“Three very nice largemouth and several white bass were feeding 35-40 deep and they really liked the white Tater Shad. The blue cat, whites and largemouth bass were all caught in the second area that I fished.
“The lake level is at 554 feet msl. The surface water temp ranged from 42.5 degrees to 44 degrees depending on where I was fishing. We are forecast for a warming trend with highs in the 50s. This is the time to fish the winter bite. If you are needing a place to stay, give us a call at Hummingbird Hideaway Resort 870-492-5113 for reservations. February, 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 2-1-2024) John Berry, angler and retired operator of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169), said there has been wadable water on the Norfork 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 wet weather of late January resulted in few anglers. 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. Be sure and carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.


Buffalo National River/Crooked Creek
(updated 2-1-2024) 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 smallmouth bass 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.