Norfork Tailwater

Bill & Phil’s Fishing Trip Report, December 22, 2011

Posted by Phil Lilley on December 22nd, 2011
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After a morning on the White River, we headed to Akermann’s Access, also called the handicap access on the Norfork Tailwater.  The parking lot was full, no surprise there.  With the White running 6 units and the Norfork shut down, all the wade fishing was there on the Norfork.  Still overcast but starting to warm up, we stepped into the river about 1:30 p.m. and headed upstream.  There wasn’t anyone on the first riffle or the second so I had Bill fish the lower and I walked in on the upper pool.

These pools and riffles are pretty shallow but they hold more trout than you’d think.  Plus there’s pockets and holes in the bed rock that can hold some big trout.  It’s deceiving.  The fish were sipping small midges so I thought a #18 brassie soft hackle would get some attention.  All I caught was a little cutthroat and a couple short strikes.  Bill had the same luck but he switched quicker than I and was catching rainbows on a #18 grey scud/ #16 olive scud tandem below me.

I switched to a #16 black/gold bead zebra over a #18 barbless brown scud, the zebra about 20 inches below a palsa indicator.  I fished the flumes of water running through the rocks at the top of the second riffle.  The zebra got down quick in the fast water, carrying the scud with it. I started catch rainbow on almost every cast, working down the south side of the river, finding more and more pockets of fish.  Nothing big, nothing over 14 inches and as small as 6 inches.  None the less, it was fun.

We worked these areas for several hours.  I noticed, though, that something was changing… the water was quieter.  Then I noticed that a rock in front of me was covered with more water than it was 30 minutes prior.  Then it was gone.  First thing I thought was, the water was coming on at Norfork and I better wade back across.  But then – no!  The water was coming up from below.  The White River was backing up into the Norfork from generation we’d seen rising earlier in the day–it was just getting down to us on the Norfork.

The mouth of the Norfork is only about a mile below where we were fishing at Akermann’s so the flow of the Norfork is directly affected by the White’s level.  Something else to consider when you’re looking at generation and water levels on the White River System.

The fish slowed their feeding, at least on what we were offering so we decided to walk on up to the next shoal which is the bottom boundary of the catch and release area.  All the other anglers had gone home and we had it all to ourselves.

I took pictures of the new rip rap and bank stabilization Ark fish and game did earlier this fall.  Pretty impressive.  The high water has changed the look of the water up there, although I can’t really speak as an expert since I hadn’t been to the area for a couple of year.  But from what I remember, the water on the north side of the island now is much shallower.  The south side is the same.

Bill tied on a #14 brown wooly and immediately started hooking rainbows.  He was really on them!  I stuck with my zebra/midge combo and landed a dozen rainbows before darkness forced us to head to the truck.

It was a fine day!

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