White River

John Berry’s fishing report, December 20

Posted by Phil Lilley on December 21st, 2012
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During the past week, we have had a rain event, colder temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell four tenths of a foot to rest at seven and seven tenths feet below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty eight and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at nine and three tenths feet below power pool and twenty five and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at eleven feet below power pool or twenty and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had light generation with significant periods of wadable water. Norfork Lake remained steady at twelve and four tenths feet below power pool of 553.75 feet or thirty eight and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are well below flood pool and 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 will be seasonal Catch and Release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing is prohibited in this area during this period.

On the White, we have had more wadable water. The most productive water has been from the State Park down to Cain Island with the State Park being the hot spot. 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. Egg patterns have accounted for many trout. 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). The trout have also been active on soft hackles like my green butt or the partridge and orange.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and barely navigable. You will have to drag your boat through several spots. With our colder weather, the water temperature has dropped and the smallmouth are much less active. 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 some wadable water on the Norfork every day and the action has slowed somewhat. It has received a lot of fishing pressure. Fish early or during the week to avoid the crowds. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and Dan’s turkey tail emerger or soft hackles like my green butt or the partridge and orange. Some local dry fly enthusiasts have had great success by keying in on small mayfly hatches that are best imitated with a size 24 parachute Adams. Olive woolly buggers have also accounted for a lot of trout. 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. Large numbers of brown trout have moved up into the creek to spawn. Carefully handle and release all trout. With the colder temperatures, Dry Run Creek is much less crowded and now is a great time to fish there. With the Holidays coming up, this is the perfect occasion to spend some quality time with your children or grandchildren on stream.

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.

Don’t forget to sign up for my fly tying class at Arkansas State University Mountain Home beginning January 12, 2013.

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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