White River

January 6, 2012 Fishing Report

Posted by John Berry on January 6th, 2012
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During the past week, we have had no rain, cold then warmer temperatures and windy conditions (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell five tenths of a foot to rest at two tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty one and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell four tenths of a foot to rest at two tenths of a foot below power pool or sixteen and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Beaver Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at one tenth of a foot below power pool or nine and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had heavier generation with little wadable water. Norfork Lake fell nine tenths of a foot to rest at six tenths of a foot below power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty eight and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had increased generation with wadable water on most days. There has been substantial generation on the White and Norfork to draw the lakes to levels below power pool.

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

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. Effective flies for droppers have been sowbugs, Y2Ks, zebra midges or copper Johns.

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 to down to Cotter. 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. Wildcat Shoals has been particularly hot. The hot flies have been San Juan worms with Y2K droppers.

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 been productive. 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. There are few anglers there at this time of year. It is an excellent time to take your youngster there. Be sure to dress warmly and take occasional breaks to warm up. Take a camera, the fish are huge here.

There have been numerous reports of huge rainbows being caught on the Spring River. The water level on the river is a bit 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 brown 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 thirty years.

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