Posted by John Berry on July 5th, 2012
During the past week, we have had no rain event, extremely hot temperatures and milder winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell nine tenths of a foot to rest at one and seven tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty two and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake dropped three tenths of a foot to rest at two and nine tenths feet below power pool or eighteen and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool.
Beaver Lake fell seven tenths of a foot to rest at five and one tenth of a foot below power pool or fourteen and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had moderate generation with no wadable water. Norfork Lake dropped five tenths of a foot to rest at two and seven tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty and seven 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 well below flood pool. Due to the excessive heat the Corps of Engineers is running water to accomodate the heavy power demand and to cool the rivers.
On the White, we have had moderate generation around the clock. The hot flies were zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms and gold ribbed hare’s ears. The hot temperatures have caused the water to get a bit warm in some locations and this has affected the bite, particularly on the White. The upper stretches (from Bull Shoals down to White Hole) are not affected. Be careful when fighting fish in the lower river, so that you do not over stress them.
The hot spot has been the upper river from the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam down to Cain Island. The sulphur hatch has passed, although there may be a few stragglers around. The best time to fish is early morning. The bite is much better and it is much more comfortable for the angler. It can get pretty slow in the afternoon.
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) tied to the bend in the hook with eighteen inches of 5X tippet to increase the takes. Make your connections with improved clinch knots.
Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are very low and gin clear. Both are barely navigable. You will 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 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 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. The fishing is much better in the morning and severely tapers off in the afternoon. You should wet wade to beat the heat. The ramp at Quarry Park has been repaired and is open for business. Trout limited has planted Bonneville Cutthroat Trout eggs in the Catch and Release section. The area is marked with orange tape. Please do not disturb the gravel bottom any more than necessary. There are sixty nine Whitlock Vibert boxes containing 50,000 trout eggs planted there.
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. This is the place to beat the heat. The creek is located in a tight little valley and it is always much cooler there. If you want even cooler temperatures, tour the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is kept very cool to accommodate the trout there.
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.
Leave a Comment