White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, October 4

Posted by John Berry on October 4th, 2012
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During the past week, we have had a minor rain event, cooler temperatures and moderate winds. Fall is here. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam rose two tenths of a foot to rest at five and seven tenths feet below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty six and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at seven and four tenths feet below power pool and twenty three and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at nine and eight tenths feet below power pool or nineteen and four 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 five tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty five and five 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 current mild weather we are experiencing, we should receive more wadable water.

On the White, we have had less wadable water. The fishing on the upper river, from the Catch and Release section down to Cain Island has picked up a bit. The best fishing has been from Wildcat Shoals down to Rim Shoals. Rim Shoals has been particularly hot. The best time to fish is early morning or late in the afternoon. Mid day can get slow. 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 olive scuds. Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise).

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 and ants 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 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 have been some small mayfly hatches that are best imitated with a size 22 parachute Adams. There are still some crane flies in the area. Try using a partridge and yellow. The fishing is much better in the morning and tapers off in the afternoon. Olive woolly buggers have also accounted for a lot of trout.

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. While you are there take a few minutes to tour 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 over and the few boaters still around should not prove to be a problem. The hot spot is the Dam Three Access. 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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