White River

A Nice Day at Rim Shoals

Posted by John Berry on September 3rd, 2011
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by John Berry
On Thursday night, I read the prediction for last Friday on the Southwestern Power Administration’s generation schedule and noted a nice window of no generation on the White and Norfork Rivers. I was particularly interested in wading the White. I asked Lori to join me but she had scheduled lunch with our friend Liz Smith. After a bit of discussion, it was decided that I would go mid morning and she would join me after lunch.

I had to run a couple of errands and did not get on the water until ten o’clock. The sky was a bit cloudy and the temperature was in the eighties and climbing. Rim Shoals was low and still dropping. I rigged my rod with a hot fluorescent pink San Juan worm, a zebra midge dropper, a bit of lead and a strike indicator. I launched my river boat and motored up to Jenkin’s Creek. I was amazed with the changes. There was a lot of gravel in the channel on the Marion county side along with a sunken tree that now presented a challenge to navigation. The Baxter County side was scoured a bit.

I began my drift downstream and quickly took my first rainbow on the pink worm. I fished for a while but thought the action was a bit slow. I began changing flies that I was using as a dropper. After a few questionable choices, I zeroed in on a size sixteen pheasant tail nymph. We had recently had our big mayfly hatch of the year, the sulphurs, and the trout were still eager to eat them. The pheasant tail was a good match for the sulphur nymphs.  I picked up several trout and then got a call on my cell phone from Lori. She was a few minutes out and headed my way. I told her to meet me at the ramp.

Lori was kind enough to bring me a Rueben sandwich, some potato chips and a Diet Coke for lunch. I ate it at a shaded picnic table near the river, while we put on our waders. After lunch, we loaded into the boat, motored over to the island and anchored alongside it near the head of the island. Lori chose to fish at the top riffle. She added a long 5X tippet to her leader for a total tippet/leader combination of twelve feet and a partridge and orange soft hackle. She managed to pick up several fish, while I waded far downstream and nymphed a section that has always been a productive spot. The water was higher than I was used to. It was still dropping and I was hesitant to wade out very far.

I cast a bit further out and was able to drift through the best spots. I was rewarded with some really nice fish. I was still fishing the pink San Juan worm with the pheasant tail dropper and picking up all my fish on the pheasant tail nymph. I called the Dam to check on generation and learned that they had turned on two generators at 7:00 AM. I expected the water to reach rim around 3:00 PM. At 2:30 I stopped fishing and started walking up to the top riffle where Lori was still fishing. I joined her there and fished until the water came up on schedule at 3:00.

We scrambled into the river boat and decided to drift the rising water for a while. I added a heavier split shot (one #4 which weighs .4 gram) and moved the strike indicator up so that we could effectively fish the rising water. I was into fish immediately. The rising water was flushing food downstream and the trout were keying in on it. Lori switched over to a pheasant tail nymph and began picking up fish at a prodigious rate (five to six per drift). We were still in our waders and we were getting hot. I was sweating bullets and Lori was burning up. We stopped at the ramp and removed our waders and put on boat sandals. We were soon back on stream.

In retrospect, it would have been better to continue fishing instead of taking a break, while the action was red hot. By the time we returned to the water, the river had risen quite a bit. It would have been more productive to stay with the rising water as it moved downstream. We took a minute to change over to a heavier split shot (one AAA which weighs .8 gram) and set the strike indicator as deep as we could. The fishing had slowed but we still managed to pick up a few more fish.

Around four o’clock, we noticed that the river was getting really dirty. The rising water had picked up a lot of debris as it came up and it was flushing it all downstream. In particular, there was a lot of suspended moss that was catching onto our flies. The action slowed a bit more and moved from the pheasant tail nymph to the hot fluorescent pink San Juan worm. Lori took a minute to change over to the worm and she began picking up fish. At around five o’clock, we decided that we had fished long enough. Though Lori was reluctant to quit (she is always reluctant to quit), she knew that it was time to go. The fishing had slowed and we had things to do. I motored over to the ramp and loaded my boat onto the trailer.

On the drive back to Cotter and talked about how nice it was to wade fish again. Though we actually caught more fish drift fishing, we truly enjoyed the feel of the water tugging at our waders.

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