White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, July 11

Posted by John Berry on July 11th, 2014
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During the past week, we have had a couple of rain events (for a combined total of three quarters of an inch here in Cotter), warm temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell five tenths of a foot to rest at four tenths of a foot below seasonal power pool of 661.2 feet. This is thirty four and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell four tenths of a foot to rest at three tenths of a foot below seasonal power pool and fourteen and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at one and two tenths feet below seasonal power pool or nine and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had little wadable water. Norfork Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at seasonal power pool of 556 feet and twenty four feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had wadable water every day.

The water level for the top of power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes on this system are below seasonal power pool. We should receive more wadable water.

On the White, the hot spot was Wildcat Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers, Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, ruby midges, pink and cerise San Juan worms, and sowbugs. Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective (try a beadhead pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge or red fan tail midge suspended below it).

The sulphur hatch has been sighted but is sparse. Several anglers have reported success fishing this hatch. It seems to be late, possibly due to the brutal weather last winter. This is our most reliable mayfly hatch of the year. It is a size fourteen or sixteen insect and it is yellowish orange. Before the hatch, I fish mayfly nymphs. My favorites are copper Johns and pheasant tails (some guides including myself are fishing flashback pheasant tails). As the insects begin their emergence, I switch over to a partridge and orange or partridge and yellow soft hackle. This is often the most productive tactic. When you observe the adults on the top of the water, switch to a sulphur parachute dry fly. It is time to prepare for fishing grasshoppers.

The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear but still navigable. With the warmer weather, the smallmouths are active. The most effective flies are Clouser minnows and crawfish patterns. 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.

The Norfork River has fished poorly recently. With little no wadable water on the White there has been more angling pressure on the Norfork. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles like the green butt. 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). There have been reliable hatches of small midges (try a size 24 Adams parachute) and caddis (try a size 18 elk hair caddis).The fishing is better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.

With warmer weather, there has been a lot of action on Dry Run Creek. It has been crowded at times. Remember that there are trout everywhere. Now would be a great time to fish it. The hot flies have been sowbugs, Y2Ks and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). The creek is located in a narrow valley and is surprisingly cool during hot weather. It is a great place to beat the heat.

The water level on the Spring River is a low and clear. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. We are in the midst of canoe season and it can be difficult to fish during the aluminum hatch. You should fish during the week to avoid the crowds. 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.

The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is making repairs to the Dam at the State Fish Hatchery at the Dam Three Access. During this process water may be diverted from the main channel to the north channel that runs alongside the parking lot resulting in a rise in the water level there of up to two feet. The access will remain open to the public although the parking may be limited to the lot on the North side of the railroad tracks during busy times. All users are requested to exercise extreme care when in the area.

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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