White River

Berry’s fishing report, May 3

Posted by John Berry on May 3rd, 2012
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During the past week, we have had two minor rain events, warmer temperatures and windy conditions. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam remained steady at four tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty one and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at three tenths of a foot below power pool or sixteen and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Beaver Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at six tenths of a foot below power pool or ten and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had generally lower generation. There has been significant wadable water. Norfork Lake remained steady at one tenth of a foot below power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty eight and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had reliable wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are below flood pool. We should receive more wadable water this week.

On the White, we have had some substantial periods of wadable water over the weekend. The wade fishing was spectacular. The hot flies were caddis pupa and my green butts. Other productive flies were partridge and orange soft hackles and Dan’s turkey tail emerger. During the rest of the week, we have generally lower flows that have been nearly perfect for drift fishing. Nymphs suspended below a strike indicator have been quite effective. The most productive flies have been caddis pupa (green or tan), copper Johns, prince nymphs, San Juan worms (hot fluorescent pink or cerise) and zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead in size 16). My favorite combination has been a cerise San Juan worm with a caddis pupa dropper. The windy conditions have made casting and boat handling more difficult.

The hot spot has been wildcat Shoals, which has received some caddis hatches in the afternoon. Though the caddis are generally on the wane, many anglers have reported success banging the bank with size fourteen elk hair caddis. The trick has been to get very close to the bank and achieve a perfect drag free drift. When there are no adults coming off, try a caddis pupa or prince nymph under an indicator. Another hot spot has been Rim Shoals.

We have received some limited periods of higher water (9,000 to 12,000 cubic feet per second) which have been conducive to fishing large articulated streamers. The trick is to bang the bank with these large flies on a sink tip line (250 grains or heavier). Flies for this technique have been zoo cougars, sex dungeons and butt monkeys. You will need a heavy rod (an eight weight or heavier) to cast this rig. This is hard work but can produce some large trout.

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 reliable wadable water on the Norfork almost every day. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red) and Dan’s turkey tail emerger or soft hackles like my green butt or the partridge and orange. 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. When the flood gates were open, warm water fish escaped from the lake into the river. This is a great opportunity to catch stripers, walleye, gar and other species on the river. You are encouraged to remove them, as they are all predators with a taste for trout. The ramp at Quarry Park is closed for repairs.

Dry Run Creek has been red hot. 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. 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. Take time to visit the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your shoes before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic disease.

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 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 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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