White River

Berry’s Fishing Report, 1/18/12

Posted by John Berry on January 19th, 2012
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During the past week, we have had colder 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 six tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty one and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at three tenths of a foot below power pool or sixteen and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Beaver Lake fell two tenths of a foot to rest at four tenths of a foot below power pool or ten feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had erratic generation during the week with significant wadable water over the three day weekend. Norfork Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at three tenths of a foot below power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty eight and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had light generation with wadable water every day. We should see more wadable water on both rivers in the coming weeks.

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.

Last weekend we had substantial periods of wadable water on the White River. The fishing was good at popular spots like Wildcat shoals and Rim Shoals. The hot flies were red zebra midges (size sixteen), copper Johns and San Juan worms (red). There were some midges hatching and Dan’s turkey tail emerger was the hot fly.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and clear. 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 but has been crowded. If you can, fish during the week to avoid the crowds. On lower water the hot flies have been olive scuds (size 18), Dan’s turkey tail emerger and zebra midges (black and red). There was a good blue wing olive hatch on some afternoons. The key to success was a parachute Adams in size 22 and a perfect drag free drift. Soft hackles like the partridge and orange or the green butt have accounted for a lot of fish. 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. While you are there take a tour of the adjacent National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating and educational. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

There have been numerous reports of huge rainbows being caught on the Spring River. The water level on the river is low and lightly 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.

White River Trout Unlimited has scheduled a Cabin Fever Fund-Raiser for Saturday, February 25th here in Mountain Home. This party will be a great way to celebrate impending spring weather and raise money for the chapter’s many projects! Visit their website for more details. www.whiterivertu.com.

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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