White River

December 22, 2011 Fishing Report

Posted by John Berry on December 22nd, 2011
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During the past week, we have had a rain event, slightly warmer temperatures and windy conditions. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam rose six tenths of a foot to rest at nine tenths of a foot above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose eight tenths of a foot to rest at a foot above power pool or fifteen feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at one tenth of a foot above power pool or nine and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had erratic generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose two tenths of a foot to rest at two tenths of a foot above power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty seven and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had little generation with substantial wadable water. The heavy rain we received this week raised the lake levels a bit. However they all remain close to power pool and should provide wadable water.

The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam will close from November 1, 2011 to January 31, 2012 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park from the bottom of the Catch and Release section down to the wing wall will be seasonal brown trout Catch and Release for the same period.

The dissolved oxygen level has risen above the state minimum standard of six parts per million on the White and Norfork Rivers.

There were several days where we had generation in excess of 20,000 cubic feet per second (cfs) on the White. The best technique for this type of water is to fish brightly colored San Juan worms (cerise, hot fluorescent pink and red) and egg patterns (orange and peach). The trick is to get the flies down. To sink these flies you must use big split shot (AAA or larger) and long leader/tippet combinations (ten to twelve feet). To help detect takes use a brightly colored strike indicator near the top of the leader. One way to increase strikes is to use a small nymph as a dropper below the worm or egg.

Another technique that has been particularly effective on the higher water has been to bang the bank with big streamers. Effective patterns have been Zoo Cougars, Sex Dungeons and Butt Monkeys. The key to success has been to use a heavy sink tip (250 grain or heavier). To deliver these heavy flies on heavy sink tip lines, you must use at least an eight weight rod. This is hard work but can produce some excellent trout.

The best place to fish was the section from White Hole down to Wildcat Shoals. On the higher flows we have been receiving, the hot flies were hot fluorescent pink San Juan worms with copper Johns and black zebra midges in size fourteen or sixteen as droppers. Y2Ks and beadhead hare’s ears were also responsible for some nice fish.

Rim Shoals has been particularly hot. The hot flies have been San Juan worms with Y2K droppers have been the key to success. Remember that Rim Shoals Trout Dock runs a water taxi and will ferry you to wadable water for a nominal fee. They can ferry you to wadable water as long as the flow is below 17,000 cfs.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are high and stained. Several anglers have reported success with Clouser minnows. The water temperature is near the point where the Smallmouth will become less active. 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.

The Norfork has fished well. On lower water the hot flies have been olive scuds (size 18), Dan’s turkey tail emerger, hot fluorescent pink worms and chamois worms. Soft hackles like the partridge and orange or the green butt have accounted for a lot of fish. The new trout habitat project in the Catch and Release section has had a positive effect on the fishing there. On higher flows, the best technique has been to drift brightly colored San Juan worms (red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and egg patterns (pink and orange).

Dry Run Creek has fished well. The hot flies have been sowbugs and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. The browns are stacked in the creek like a cord of wood. Dry Run Creek has received little pressure this week. The best Christmas present that I can think of is to take your youngster fishing there.

The water level on the Spring River is high and stained. This is a great place to wade fish. Canoe season is over and we have much less traffic on stream. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot spot has been Dam Three Access. The hot flies have been olive woolly buggers with a bit of flash, cerise and hot pink San Juan worms and Y2Ks.

Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers are infected with didymo, an invasive alga. Be sure and thoroughly clean and dry your waders (especially the felt soles on wading boots) before using them in any other water. Many manufacturers are now making rubber soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.

Practice water safety and always check conditions before you leave home.

John Berry is a fly fishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished our local streams for over twenty five years.


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