White River

Berry’s fishing report, 2/2/12

Posted by John Berry on February 2nd, 2012
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During the past week, we have had no precipitation, mild temperatures and windy conditions. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam rose two tenths of a foot to rest at two tenths of a foot over power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty one and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose four tenths of a foot to rest at power pool or sixteen feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose one tenths of a foot to rest at power pool or nine and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had heavy generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose one tenth of a foot to rest at power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty eight and feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had heavy generation at the beginning of the week with no wadable water and lighter generation with wadable water later in the week. All of the lakes in the White River System are at or near power pool and we should see wadable water on both rivers in the coming weeks.

The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam was closed to fishing from November 1, 2011 to January 31, 2012 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. It was opened to fishing on February 1, 2012. When you are fishing there you should avoid the use of drag chains to prevent damage to trout redds and the brown trout eggs in them. On low water, you should wade carefully to avoid them. They will appear as clean depressions in the gravel bottom.

There were several days where we had periods of 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, red 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 hot spot was the Catch and Release Section below Bull Shoals Dam on opening day. The brown trout bite was heavy with many nice fish caught. It was very crowded with over twenty boats in the area. The hot flies were egg patterns in peach or orange.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are high and stained after our rain. 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 heavy generation on the Norfork has limited wade fishing. On lower flows the hot fly has been olive scuds. 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. When fishing there, try to keep casting to a minimum, due to the heavy tree cover. The most effective technique is to high stick nymphs. While you are there, take the time to visit the adjacent National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating.

There have been numerous reports of large rainbows being caught on the Spring River. The water level on the 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 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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