White River

Berry’s fishing report, 3/8/12

Posted by John Berry on March 8th, 2012
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During the past week, we have had a major rain event, unseasonably warm temperatures and very windy conditions (to include lake wind advisories every day). The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell one tenth of a foot to rest at seven tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty one and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose one tenth of a foot to rest at power pool or sixteen feet below the top of flood pool.

Beaver Lake fell two tenths of a foot to rest at two tenths of a foot below power pool or nine and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had lighter generation with wadable water over the weekend. Norfork Lake fell two tenths of a foot to rest at two tenths of a foot below power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty eight and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had less generation and more 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 water flows on the White River this week have been low and constant. While this water level has not been conducive for streamer fishing, the water levels have been near perfect for drifting small nymphs. With the lighter flows, we have been able to use less weight on the leader and we have been required to use lighter tippets (5X or even 6X). Productive patterns have been zebra midges (red and black with silver wire and silver bead), sowbugs, copper Johns and egg patterns.

The big story for the past week has been the arrival of our big spring caddis hatch. It is our most reliable and prolific hatch of the year. It starts as a solid size fourteen green caddis. Before the hatch, fish green nymph patterns like the fluttering caddis. When you begin seeing top water action but no insects, you should switch over to my green butt soft hackle. When the fish begin keying in on hatching adults, you should change over to green elk hair caddis.

The hot spot has been the section of the river from White Hole down to Cotter. The caddis have been reliably hatching in the early afternoon. The conditions have been so windy during the past week that it has been extremely difficult to fish dry flies. It has been more effective to fish nymphs like the fluttering caddis or emergers like the caddis pupa emerger. My green butt soft hackle has also been quite effective.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are lower and clearer. The water temperature is near the temperature 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 wadable water on the Norfork every day 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, olive scuds, sowbugs 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. While you are there visit the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

The water level on the Spring 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 the 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.

There is still time to send in your entry to the Baxter Bulletin Fly Tying Contest. All entries must be sent to me, John Berry at 408 Combs Ave. Cotter, Arkansas 72626. They must be postmarked no later than March 15, 2012.

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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