White River

Berry’s White River fishing report, October 11

Posted by John Berry on October 11th, 2014
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During the past week, we have had a rain event (a half inch here in Cotter), warmer temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell five tenths of a foot to rest at four and five tenths feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is forty and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock fell four tenths of a foot to rest at six and nine tenths feet below seasonal power pool and twenty and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at seven and five tenths feet below seasonal power pool or seventeen and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had significant generation in the afternoon and lower generation in the morning with a lot of wadable water over the weekend. Norfork Lake fell three tenth of a foot to rest at four and six tenths feet below seasonal power pool of 553.7 feet and thirty and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had wadable water every day with limited 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 temperatures moderating, 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 flashback beadhead pheasant tail nymph with a ruby midge or red fan tail midge suspended below it).

It is hopper time! There is a bumper crop of grasshoppers 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 pink lady. To increase hook ups I always use a dropper. I am currently using a ruby midge in size eighteen on a three foot or longer tippet (depending on the depth of the water I am fishing).

The higher flows that we have been getting on some 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 clear and low. With the cooler weather, the smallmouths are still 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 better recently. With little wadable water on the White, there has been more angling pressure on the Norfork. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like ruby midges, 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 and conclave over, there is 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). While you are there take a few minutes to visit the adjacent Norfork national Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

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. Canoe season is over and there are fewer boats on the river to interfere with your fishing. 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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