White River

Berry’s fishing report, April 12, 2012

Posted by John Berry on April 12th, 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 nine tenths of a foot to rest at seven tenths of a foot above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at one tenth of a foot above power pool or fifteen and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell one and five tenths feet to rest at three and five feet above power pool or six and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had very heavy generation (at or near maximum generation) early in the week and lower generation later in the week. There has been no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell four and six tenths feet to rest at four and seven tenths of a foot above power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty three and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had heavy generation with additional flows entering the river through the flood gates. This week the total flows were around 9,000 cubic feet per second (maximum flows are around 7,200 CFS). There has been no wadable water. The Corps of Engineers has been aggressively drawing down the lakes to prepare for spring rains and we should receive wadable water soon.

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 low and clear. The water temperature is at the level for the Smallmouth to be active. Some anglers have reported success with Clouser minnows and crawfish patterns. 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. Be sure and bring your camera in order to catch the one of the significant memories of a life time.

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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