White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, June 21

Posted by John Berry on June 21st, 2012
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During the past week, we have had no rain event, hot temperatures and windy conditions. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell one tenth of a foot to rest at three tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty one and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake dropped five tenths of a foot to rest at two and two tenths feet below power pool or eighteen and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Beaver Lake fell six tenths of a foot to rest at three and eight tenths of a foot below power pool or thirteen and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had little generation with significant wadable water. Norfork Lake dropped one tenths of a foot to rest at one and eight tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty nine and eight tenths 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 still 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 ramp at the state park will be closed during the week for the period June 11 through June 24. It will be open on the week end.

The hot spot has been the upper river from the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam down to Cain Island. Be on the lookout for the 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 has been sporadic and unpredictable.

It is time to fish grasshoppers. These are terrestrials not aquatic insects. They are blown into the water by wind or fall in near the shore. They are large tempting morsels that can draw big fish. Use a nine foot 4X tippet and cast near the bank. Occasionally twitch the fly to imitate a struggling insect. Dave’s hoppers and large foam western hoppers are effective patterns. Use a small nymph as a dropper (a pheasant tail or a zebra midge is a good choice) to increase the takes.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are very low and gin clear. Both are barely navigable. 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. Remember that this stream is set aside for kids under sixteen years of age and mobility impaired adults (a mobility impaired card is required).

The water level on the Spring River is low 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. You should consider fishing at the Lassiter Access, which is above the canoe section, to avoid the boating 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 olive 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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