White River

Berry’s fishing report, April 6, 2012

Posted by John Berry on April 7th, 2012
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During the past week, we have had no measurable rain, warm temperatures and less windy conditions. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell three and three tenths of a foot to rest at four and six tenths feet above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is thirty six and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell two and three tenths of a foot to rest at six tenths of a foot above power pool or fifteen and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Beaver Lake remained steady at five feet above power pool or four and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

On the White, we have had very heavy generation (at or near maximum generation). There has been no wadable water.

Norfork Lake fell one and nine tenths of a foot to rest at nine and three tenths of a foot above power pool of 552.00 feet or eighteen and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

On the Norfork, we have had moderate generation with additional flows entering the river through the flood gates. Early in the week the total flows were at or near maximum and later in the week were greater, around 9,000 cubic feet per second (maximum flows are around 7,200 CFS). There has been no wadable water. The Corps of Engineers is aggressively drawing down the lakes to prepare for normal spring rains and we should expect them to reach power pool in a matter of days. There should be wadable water then.

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.

On the much higher flows that we received this week, the key to success has been to drift brightly colored San Juan worms and egg patterns below an indicator. You should use a leader/tippet combination of twelve feet or longer and heavy weight (AAA split shot or heavier). To increase the takes, suspend a dropper fly beneath the lead fly. Productive choices would be copper Johns, sowbugs and fluttering caddis nymphs. Concentrate on fishing the bank, submerged islands and weed beds. There have been reports of shad coming through during the heavy generation and some anglers have reported success fishing shad patterns.

Another productive technique for this high level of generation is to bang the bank with large articulated streamers on a fast sinking sink tip fly line (250 grains or heavier). In order to cast these flies on these lines, you will need at least an eight weight fly rod. Suggested flies are butt monkeys, sex dungeons and zoo cougars. This technique is heavy work and not for the casual fly fisher. It will not produce large numbers of trout but can generate some big fish.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are lower and clearing. The water temperature is at the level for the Smallmouth to be active. Some anglers have reported success with Clouser minnows. 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 generation continuously on the Norfork. 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). Here again banging the bank with large articulated streamers can produce some large trout. With the flood gates open, warm water species are escaping from the lake into the river.

Dry Run Creek has been productive. The weather has been mild and it has drawn lots of young anglers taking advantage it. Spring break is over and it is much less crowded during the week. There is an opportunity for a bit of solitude at times. 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 few minutes to visit the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. It has not been included in the federal budget for next year. It is crucial to our economy and fishery that it stays in operation. Contact your Senator or Congressman and let them know that you want it to be fully funded.

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 has not started yet 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 Bayou 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 and Dry Run Creek 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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