White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, August 22

Posted by John Berry on August 22nd, 2013
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During the past week, we have had no rain, warmer temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose two tenths of a foot to rest at seven feet above power pool of 661 feet. This is twenty seven feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one foot to rest at power pool and fourteen feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell two tenths of a foot to rest at four tenths of a foot above power pool or eight and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had wadable water in the morning and heavy generation in the afternoon. Norfork Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at five and eight tenths feet above power pool of 555.8 feet nineteen feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had wadable most days and heavy generation on others. The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system.

On the White, the hot spot has been Roundhouse Shoals. 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 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).

On the higher flows some anglers have been fishing large streamers on the heavy flows we have been getting later in the day and having success. This requires heavy sink tip lines, heavy rods (eight weights or better) and advanced casting skills. The hot flies have been large articulated streamers in various colors.

Hopper season is in full swing. These are tempting morsels for large trout. You need a stiff six weight rod and a stout seven and a half foot 4X leader. My favorite hopper patterns are the western style foam hoppers with rubber legs and a bright quick sight patch on the back. Dave’s hoppers are also a good choice but be sure to dress them with plenty of fly floatant to ensure that they ride high. A small nymph dropper can increase your takes. It is not uncommon to take more trout on the dropper. My favorite dropper flies are beadhead pheasant tails or zebra midges.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are high but 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 most days and it has fished well. 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), 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. School is out and there is much more traffic on the stream. You should fish early or late to avoid the crowds. Weekends can get quite crowded. 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 and carry the largest net that you can find to increase your chances of landing these big fish.

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 is in full swing 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.

My wife, Lori, and I will begin our annual fall fly fishing classes at Arkansas State University Mountain Home on September 5, 12, 19 and 26. Contact the University to sign up for this Community Education Course.

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

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