White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, May 30

Posted by John Berry on May 30th, 2013
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During the past week, we have had no rain, warm temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell one and three tenths feet to rest at eight and five tenths feet above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is thirty two and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose one tenth of a foot to rest at one and eight tenths feet above power pool and fourteen and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose three tenths of a foot to rest at four and three tenths feet above power pool or five and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had significant generation and some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell two tenths of a foot to rest at four and eight tenths feet above power pool of 553.75 feet or twenty one and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had wadable water most days. The lakes in the White River system are all above the top of power pool and we are getting much more generation. I expect this trend to continue for the next few weeks.

Our major mayfly hatch, the sulphurs, is beginning to come off. So far, this hatch has been very sparse. This is a size fourteen yellow/orange aquatic insect. Before the hatch, concentrate on fishing mayfly nymphs. My favorite is the copper John. 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 a partridge and orange soft hackle. 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 sulphur parachute (size fourteen).

On the White, we have had some wadable water. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The best time to fish is early morning or late in the afternoon. Midday can be slow. 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 sowbugs. 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).

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are navigable and both are receiving a lot of pressure. With summer here, the smallmouths are active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown Clouser minnow. 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 almost every day. The action has picked up somewhat. With limited wadable water on the White, it can get crowded, particularly on the weekends. You should fish early or late to avoid the crowds. The most productive flies have been small (size 20 or smaller) 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 18). Grasshoppers have started producing fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). 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 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 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 fishable. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. Canoe season will began last weekend and the canoeists can a problem. Fish the upper river at the Lassiter Access to avoid them. 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.

John Berry is a fly fishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished our local streams for over thirty years.

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