White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, April 12

Posted by Phil Lilley on April 12th, 2013
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During the past week, we have had a rain event, cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose five tenths of a foot to rest at five tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty one and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose three tenths of a foot to rest at seven tenths of a foot below power pool and sixteen and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose nine tenths of a foot to rest at three and four tenths feet below power pool or thirteen feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had little generation with significant periods of wadable water. Norfork Lake rose five tenths of a foot to rest at five tenths of a foot below power pool of 553.75 feet or twenty six and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had wadable water most days. Though the lakes in the White River system are inching up towards the top of power pool, they are still below flood pool and we should continue to receive significant wadable water.

Our most prolific hatch of the year, the Rhyacophilia caddis, is still active. 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 hot spot has been the section from White Hole down to Cotter. The best time to fish is early morning or late in the afternoon. The hot flies were prince nymphs, 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 spring here, we are not far from the time when the smallmouth become more active. Look for water temperatures over 55 degrees. 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. There has also been a sparse hatch of very small mayflies; reliable hatches of midges (try a size 22 parachute Adams for both) and some smaller caddis (size 16). Olive woolly buggers have also accounted for a lot of trout. The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.

Dry Run Creek has fished well, the crowds associated with spring breaks has thinned a bit and now is a good time to fish there. 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. Take the biggest net that you can lay your hands on. Some of these fish are huge. While you are there, take a tour of 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 a fishable. 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.

Do not for get to sign up for our intermediate fly fishing class at ASU Mountain Home.

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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