White River

Berry’s White River Report, February 28

Posted by John Berry on March 1st, 2013
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During the past week, we have had a significant rain event, cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose one and four tenths of a foot to rest at five feet below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty six feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose five tenths of a foot to rest at seven feet below power pool and twenty three feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose seven tenths of a foot to rest at eight and eight tenths feet below power pool or eighteen and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had light generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose two and seven tenths of a foot to rest at six and eight tenths feet below power pool of 553.75 feet or thirty three 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, the rains we have received have had little effect on lake levels and we should receive more wadable water.

There were some shad coming through the generators at Bull Shoals Dam briefly that made for some excellent fishing. When you see the seagulls keying in on the shad coming though the generators, you need to switch over to shad patterns. White marabou jigs, with a bit of crystal flash, have been the key to success. These incidents have been erratic and unpredictable.

On the White, we have had more wadable water. The most productive water has been the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam. It has been very crowded. The best time to fish is early morning or late in the afternoon. 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 and Dan’s turkey tail emerger.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are high and stained after the recent rain. The White River below the confluence of the Buffalo River and Crooked Creek is stained. 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 wadable water on the Norfork every day. The action has picked up somewhat and it has been a bit less crowded with more wadable water on the White. 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 caddis hatches that are best imitated with a size 16 elk hair caddis. There has also been a sparse hatch of very small mayflies and there are reliable hatches of midges (try a size 22 parachute Adams for both). 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. Use at least 4X tippet to increase your chances of landing these big fish. Carefully handle and release all trout. Dry Run Creek is much less crowded and now is a great time to fish there. Bundle your youngster up so they can cope with the cold weather. Take frequent breaks and drink some hot cocoa. Handle all fish carefully and release them as quickly as possible.

The water level on the Spring River is a bit higher and stained from the recent rains. 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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