White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, September 12

Posted by John Berry on September 12th, 2013
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During the past week, we have had no rain, hot then cooler temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell two and four tenths feet to rest at six tenths of a foot below seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is thirty four and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at two tenths of a foot below power pool and fourteen and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell six tenths of a foot to rest at one and one tenths feet below power pool or nine and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had heavy generation around the clock early in the week and low levels of generation in the morning and heavy generation in the afternoon later in the week. Norfork Lake fell one and two tenths feet to rest at two tenths of a foot below power pool of 555.8 feet and twenty four and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had wadable water most mornings and heavy generation in the afternoon. The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. With all of the lakes in the White River system below power pool and the temperatures moderating, I predict that we will receive more wadable water, in the coming weeks.

On the White, the hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. The best time to fish is early morning or late in the afternoon. The hot flies were Y2Ks, 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 (250 grain or heavier), 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 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 low and gin clear. You may have to drag your boat in spots. Both are receiving a lot of pressure. With summer coming to an end, the smallmouth are still 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 and it has fished well. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Grasshoppers have produced fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). 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 fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.

Dry Run Creek has fished well. School is back in session and now is a great time to fish it, particularly during the week. Weekends can get a bit 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. While you are there, be sure and tour the adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is the jewel in our angling crown. Be sure to 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 is coming to an end but canoeists can still be a problem. Fish the upper river at the Lassiter Access to avoid them or fish Dam Three late in the afternoon, after they have left the area. 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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