White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, May 31

Posted by John Berry on May 31st, 2012
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During the past week, we have had no rain events, warm temperatures and windy conditions. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam remained steady at one tenth 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 fell five tenths of a foot to rest at one and five tenths feet below power pool or seventeen and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at one and six tenths feet below power pool or seventeen and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell six tenths of a foot to rest at two and three tenths of a foot below power pool or eleven and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had little generation with significant wadable water. Norfork Lake dropped one foot to rest at one foot below power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty nine 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 significant periods of wadable water all week. The wade fishing has been spectacular. The hot flies were zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, gold ribbed hare’s ears and green butts. Other productive flies were partridge and orange soft hackles and Dan’s turkey tail emerger.

The water has been so low that navigation of the White River has been difficult at times. We are discovering many subtle changes to the river. Many holes have been filled in, new ones have appeared and the gravel has shifted significantly. Move up and down the river carefully.

The hot spot has been Roundhouse Shoals which received a sulphur hatch, our major mayfly hatch of the year. These are yellow orange mayflies in size fourteen. Before the hatch use mayfly nymphs like gold ribbed hares ears, pheasant tails and copper Johns. During the emergence, switch over to partridge and orange or partridge and yellow soft hackles. Once the trout begin keying in on the adults, switch to the sulphur parachutes. Be sure and achieve a perfect drag free drift. This year’s hatch seems to be a bit sporadic and unpredictable.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and gin clear. Both are navigable but you may have to drag your boat in some spots. Several anglers (including me) have reported success with Clouser minnows and crawfish patterns. The Buffalo has been fishing particularly well. 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 every day. The Norfork has benefitted from the low water on the White. With more fishing opportunities on the White, the crowding on the Norfork has substantially decreased. 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. There has also been a major hatch of Sulphurs on the Norfork. Start with copper Johns before the hatch and switch to partridge and orange soft hackles when the trout begin keying in on the emergers. Once the trout begin taking adult mayflies switch over to sulphur parachutes. The ramp at Quarry Park has been repaired and is open for business.

Dry Run Creek has fished well. 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. The summer vacation season has begun and there will be more fishing pressure on the creek. Fish early, late or during the week to escape the crowds. While you are there, take your child on a tour of the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating.

It is important to note that the hatchery is currently involved in a budgetary crisis. The cost to operate it has been removed from the National Budget. Contact your Congressman or Senator and let them know that the hatchery is important to our fishery and economy.

The water level on the Spring River is lower and clear. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. Canoe season is upon us and the boats are a major nuisance. Fish at the Lassiter Access, which is above the canoe section, to avoid crowds. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. 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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