Posted by John Berry on July 19th, 2012
So far, it has been a brutally hot summer. The temperatures have soared into record territory and the extreme drought that we find ourselves in is unrelenting. Crooked Creek is so low that is not navigable and sections of the Buffalo are no better. On the days when there is no generation on the White, temperatures can climb especially on the lower river. The Norfork has not been affected as much since it is only four and a half miles from the Dam to the confluence. It has received a bit of pressure especially on the days when there is generation on the White.
I have had to adjust my techniques in order to achieve angling success. I have noted that the fishing is much better in the morning, the earlier the better. It all seems to slow down about eleven o’clock and the afternoons have been particularly slow. Even when they are running water, the trout seem to only hit on rising water. To seek cooler water I have been fishing mostly in the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam. The water is uniformly cool up there and there are plenty of large trout.
The problem is that when you are that close to the dam the slightest change in the outflow from the dam is immediately felt. It seems that they have been bouncing the water flow up and down. I fished up there the other day and every time I heard the horn I knew that a change in water flow was coming. They must have sounded the horn over twenty times in the few hours that I was there.
On my last trip there, I was guiding a father and son from Missouri. Dad was an accomplished angler but his seventeen year old son was fairly new to the sport. With the constantly changing water levels, we had periods of intense activity during the rises and some other periods of very slow fishing, when the water was dropping. There were a few times when I feared that my boat could be stuck in low water and I would have a lot of trouble getting my boat on the trailer at the end of the day. Luckily we had some good flows and I was able to easily put my boat on the trailer. I carried extra water in my boat and took care to find a picnic table in the shade for lunch, so that we could cool off and relax for a few minutes.
We tried a variety of flies; pheasant tail nymphs, copper johns, San Juan worms, and zebra midges with limited results. We did better, once we switched to gray scuds. Despite all of the fluctuations we were able to end the day with several nice trout. The largest was a stout twenty three inch rainbow, a good fish anywhere.
Since Lori has not been able to kayak Crooked Creek to fish for smallmouth, because of the low flows there, she was looking for some good water on the White. She considered a float around Cotter but that section has not been fishing as well as usual. I suggested a float on the upper river.
She and her fishing buddy, Donna, decided to float from the Catch and Release section from Bull Shoals Dam down to Gaston’s on a day when there was no generation on the White. They loaded up their kayaks and left in separate cars so that they could handle their own shuttle. They floated through the Catch and Release section. They had both there fished there on several occasions. Although it is good water, they wanted to fish different water.
They stopped at Bull Shoals State Park. They were both swinging partridge and orange soft hackles. Donna had the hot hand and picked up several nice trout. The largest was a nice fat twenty inch brown. Lori just couldn’t get anything going there, though she tried hard. She picked up a few small fish but her success was very limited.
After a while, they moved much further downstream to some new water that neither of them had ever fished. It was Lori’s time to shine. She was whacking the and caught fish after fish. The largest was a solid nineteen inch hooked jawed male. It gave her a really good fight and made her day.
We beat the dog days of summer and did well fishing the upper White. We live near the river in Cotter but sometimes you have to drive a few miles to find good fishing.
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