White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, July 13

Posted by John Berry on July 13th, 2012
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During the past week, we have had one rain event, warm temperatures and mild winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell two tenths of a foot to rest at one and nine tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet.

This is forty two and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake dropped four tenths of a foot to rest at three and three tenths feet below power pool and nineteen and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at five and six tenths of a foot below power pool or fifteen and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had moderate generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake dropped seven tenths of a foot to rest at three and four tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty one and four 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. With the cooler temperatures, we should receive more wadable water.

On the White, we have had limited wadable water. 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 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 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 Unlimited 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. While you are there take a tour of the adjacent Norfork national Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

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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