White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, September 6

Posted by John Berry on September 6th, 2012
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During the past week, we have had a rain event, hot temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell six tenths of a foot to rest at five and two tenths feet below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty six and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake remained steady at six and four tenths feet below power pool and twenty two and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell four tenths of a foot to rest at eight and six tenths feet below power pool or eighteen and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had moderate generation with limited wadable water. Norfork Lake remained steady at seven and one tenth feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty five and one tenth 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. The effect of Hurricane Isaac was minimal. We received little rain and there was no rise on the lake levels.

On the White, we have had some 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. Other terrestrials like beetles have also been effective.

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. There has been a prolific crane fly hatch in the morning. They are yellow and size fourteen. They are best imitated with a sulphur parachute. The fishing is much better in the morning and tapers off in the afternoon.

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. School is back in session and there is less fishing pressure during the week. There is precious room to cast and the most effective technique is to high stick nymphs under an indicator. These fish are huge. Use at least 4X tippet to increase your chances of landing them. Carry a big net and a camera. Remember that this stream is Catch and Release and handle the fish with care.

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 coming to a close. There are still plenty of boats around and you should consider fishing at Lassiter’s to avoid the boating crowd. 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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