White River

Berry’s White River Report, March 7

Posted by John Berry on March 7th, 2013
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During the past week, we have had a minor rain event (barely measurable), warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals remained steady 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 a foot to rest at six feet below power pool and twenty two feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose five tenths of a foot to rest at eight and three tenths feet below power pool or seventeen and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had light generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake rose one and six tenths of a foot to rest at five and two tenths feet below power pool of 553.75 feet or thirty one and four 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 next week or so should signal the start of our most prolific hatch of the year, the Rhyacophilia caddis. This is a size fourteen bright green aquatic insect. Before the hatch, concentrate on fishing caddis pupae patterns in green (size fourteen). My favorite is the fluttering caddis. When you observe fish feeding near the surface but see no insects, the trout are keying in on the emergers. The best fly for this phase is my green butt (size fifteen). Then, when you observe insects on the surface of the water and trout keying in on them, you switch over to the adult insect fly. My hands down choice is the elk hair caddis in green (size fourteen).

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 navigable. With our cool 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 most days. 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. Handle all fish carefully and release them as quickly as possible. 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 quite wadable. 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.

Be sure and sign up for my beginners fly fishing course that begins next week. Don’t forget to attend the Sowbug Roundup which begins on Thursday at the Fairgrounds.

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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