White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, August 29

Posted by John Berry on August 29th, 2014
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During the past week, we have had no measurable rain, brutally hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell one and one tenth feet to rest at four feet below seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is thirty eight feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock fell six tenths feet to rest at five and eight tenths feet below seasonal power pool and eighteen and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell one and one tenth feet to rest at five and eight tenths feet below seasonal power pool or fourteen and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had significant generation in the afternoon and limited generation in the morning with no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell a foot to rest at three and five tenths feet below seasonal power pool of 555.7 feet and twenty nine and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had wadable water every day with heavy generation in the afternoon.

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 well below seasonal power pool. With the extremely hot temperatures we have been experiencing, we should see more generation in the afternoon during peak power demand.

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 flashback beadhead pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge or red fan tail midge suspended below it).

It is time to be fishing grasshoppers. There is a bumper crop of them this year and the trout are already keying in on them. I favor shorter leaders (seven and a half foot 3X) and a stiff six weight rod to proper deliver these weighty flies. My favorite flies are Dave’s hoppers and the western foam varieties. To increase hook ups I always use a dropper. I am currently using a ruby midge in size eighteen on a three foot tippet.

The higher flows that we have been getting in the afternoons have been conducive to fishing large streamers. You need a fast sinking sink tip line and an eight weight or better rod. This is a heavy lift that requires casting skills and patience.

The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low, clear and barely navigable. With the warmer weather, the smallmouth 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 a bit better 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 school back in session, I would expect less fishing pressure on Dry Run Creek. 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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