White River

Fall is here on the White River

Posted by John Berry on October 31st, 2013
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When I look outside, I see oak leaves slowly wafting down to the ground. The leaves on the walnut tree have already dropped and the Virginia creeper is turning crimson. The morning temperature, when I was driving to the river the other day, was forty five degrees and we have harvested the last of our heirloom tomatoes from the garden. The days are getting shorter and fall is definitely in the air. For me, this is a pleasant change, from the heat of the summer, and I won’t miss cutting my grass at all, although I am not looking forward to raking leaves.

The real reason for looking forward to fall is the fishing. I personally think that it is the best season to fish of the year. First of all is the weather. It is not too hot or too cold. It is just right. The clothing of fall is my favorite. I like to think of Pendleton shirt cowboy hat weather. The temperatures may be cold in the morning but it can warm up into the sixties on a sunny day. This is the time for sweaters, light jackets and some light fleece pants under your waders. I got so carried away last week that I ordered a new fishing sweater. It is time to forget about wet wading (everyone but my neighbor Scott).

Then, of course, there is the fishing. We generally have low lake levels at this time of year and with more moderate weather there is generally lower power demand. This translates into lower flows and the distinct possibility of more wadable water. While the wading has been adversely impacted on the Norfork by the Federal closure of Quarry Park and the ramp there and the bank stabilization work in the Catch and Release area, the White holds promise for prime conditions.

Now is the time of year that the browns are preparing for the annual trip to their spawning grounds. When the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission performed some studies of trout movement a few years back (they planted radio transmitters into a number of trout and closely monitored their locations), they found that trout only traveled a few hundred yards except when they spawn. They would then move up to twenty miles. With the browns on the move, they are easier to target. Their main spawning location is the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam. It is closed from November, 1 through January, 31 and the adjacent State Park which is designated Catch and Release for the same period. The browns also move up into Dry Run Creek this time of year making for some great angling, for the kids.

Spawning fish produce eggs, which trout key in on. As a result, egg patterns are very productive for the next few months. My favorite pattern is the Y2K. It has a bead head and sinks like a rock. My clients and I have taken a lot of trout on them over the years. The largest was a sixteen pound brown on Dry Run Creek caught by David Kinney when he was ten years old. Other egg patterns can be quite effective. The best colors are orange and peach.

The grasshopper fishing continues all fall. The traditional end is when we have our first heavy frost although I don’t know how the trout realize when a frost occurs since their habitat has a very constant temperature. I frequently fish hoppers well into winter. When I was guiding yesterday, we fished them in the afternoon and took over a dozen trout. Nothing flips my switch like watching a large trout hit a big fly on the surface. My favorite patterns are foam hoppers because they float like corks and do not require dressing.

As you can see, there is a lot happening this time of year. It means that now is the time for you to get out there and catch some fish!

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