Posted by John Berry on February 23rd, 2012
During the past week, we have had a minor rain event, unseasonably warm temperatures and windy conditions. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell four tenths of a foot to rest at three tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty one and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool.
Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at power pool or sixteen feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at power pool or nine and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had lighter generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at one tenth of a foot below power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty eight and one tenth of a foot below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had more generation and less wadable water. All of the lakes in the White River System are at or below power pool and we should see wadable water on both rivers in the coming week.
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.
The hot spot was the Catch and Release Section below Bull Shoals Dam. While we have had a mild winter and the weather has theoretically not been cold enough to produce a full blown shad kill, there have been quite a few shad coming through Bull Shoals Dam. In fact, this is the best shad kill we have had in a couple of years. Watch out for gull activity below the powerhouse to indicate when the shad are coming through. The best technique is to fish white marabou jigs below an indicator. Sometimes a white floating shad pattern can trigger top water action. These are big bites and they can attract some large hungry trout.
Rim Shoals was another hotspot. The shad came through so heavily at Bull Shoals that they made their way as far down stream as Rim Shoals (twenty four miles). The trout were keying on them and the flows have been perfect. The hot fly was a white marabou jig with a bit of flash.
We did get a bit of wadable water on the White but it was brief. The hot spot was the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam. The action was hot on black zebra midges with silver wire and a silver bead. My green butt soft hackle also accounted for a lot of good fish.
Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are lower and clearer. The water temperature is too cool for the Smallmouth to be 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.
There has been some wadable water on the Norfork and it has been a bit crowded. You should fish during the week, if possible, to avoid the crowds. The hot flies have been small red zebra midges and Dan’s turkey tail emergers. 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. At the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery, they have added diffusers to increase the oxygen in the hatchery (funded by the Friends of the Norfork National Fish Hatchery). The outflow from the hatchery flows into Dry Run Creek. The addition of the diffusers in the Hatchery will benefit the oxygen level in the creek and improve fishing there.
There have been some large rainbows caught recently on the Spring River. The water level on the river is lower and clearing. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. 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 Lassiter’s 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. John can be reached at (870) 435-2169 or http://www.berrybrothersguides.com.
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