White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, November 1

Posted by John Berry on November 1st, 2012
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During the past week, we have had a rain event, cool temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam remained steady at six and seven tenths feet below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty seven 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 one tenth feet below power pool and twenty three and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at ten and two tenths feet below power pool or nineteen and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had moderate generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at eight and one tenth feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty six and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had wadable water almost 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.

The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam will close from November 1, 2012 to January 31, 2013 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park from the bottom of the Catch and Release section down to the wing wall will be seasonal Catch and Release for the same period.

On the White, we have had little wadable water. The fishing on the upper river, from the Catch and Release section down to Cain Island has slowed. The best fishing has been from Wildcat Shoals down to Cotter. 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 or red 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 still 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. The best fishing has been late afternoon.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and barely navigable. You will have to drag your boat through several 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. It has been very crowded. 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 24 parachute Adams. 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. Large numbers of brown trout have moved up into the creek to spawn. Carefully handle and release all trout. With the cooler temperatures, Dry Run Creek is much less crowded and now is a great time to fish there.

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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