White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, August 16

Posted by John Berry on August 17th, 2012
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During the past week, we have had no rain events, warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell four tenths of a foot to rest at four and four tenths feet below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty five and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake dropped three tenths of a foot to rest at five and six tenths feet below power pool and twenty one and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at seven and eight tenths of a foot below power pool or seventeen and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had moderate generation with limited wadable water. Norfork Lake dropped six tenths of a foot to rest at six and six tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty four and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had reliable wadable water most days. All of the lakes in the White River system are well below flood pool. With the forecast of milder weather, we should receive more wadable water.

On the White, we have had a bit more wadable water. The best fishing continues to be on the upper river from the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam down to Rim Shoals. The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals dam has been particularly hot. The best time to fish is early morning. The bite is much better and it is more comfortable for the angler. It can get pretty slow in the afternoon. The hot flies were zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and gray scuds. Rim Shoals has also fished well. The key to success has been to use small flies (size 20 or smaller) some anglers have been using flies as small as 26 or smaller. They have also been using smaller tippet (7X or smaller)

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 beadhead 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 many 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 almost every day and it has been fishing particularly well. 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 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 clearly 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 that could significantly benefit our fishery in the future.

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 is in full swing and there has been more fishing pressure on the creek. Fish early, late or during the week to escape the crowds. This is the best place to beat the heat. The creek is located in a tight little valley and it is always much cooler there. The trout there are huge and this is absolutely the best place on earth to introduce our youth to trout fishing. There is precious little room to cast. The most productive technique is to high stick nymphs under an indicator.

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 in full swing 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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