JOHN BERRY FISHING REPORT 10/19/2013
During the past week, we have had three minor rain events (with a combined total of a bit over an inch here in Cotter), cool temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell five tenths of a foot to rest at a foot below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is thirty seven feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at eight tenths of a foot below power pool and fourteen and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at one and five tenths feet below seasonal power pool or eleven and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had low levels of generation in the morning and heavier generation in the afternoon. There has been no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at seven tenths of a foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and twenty seven feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had wadable water most mornings and heavy generation in the afternoon.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset lower for some of the lakes in the White River system. With all of the lakes in the White River system below power pool and the temperatures moderating, I predict that we will receive more wadable water, in the coming weeks.
On the White, the hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The best time to fish is early morning or late in the afternoon. The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. 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).
Some anglers have been fishing large streamers on the heavy flows we have been getting later in the day and having success. This requires heavy sink tip lines (250 grain or heavier), heavy rods (eight weights or better) and advanced casting skills. The hot flies have been large articulated streamers in various colors.
Hopper season is in full swing. These are tempting morsels for large trout. You need a stiff six weight rod and a seven and a half foot 4X leader. My favorite hopper patterns are the western style foam hoppers with rubber legs and a bright quick sight patch on the back. Dave’s hoppers are also a good choice but be sure to dress them with plenty of fly floatant to ensure that they ride high. A small nymph dropper can increase your takes. It is not uncommon to take more trout on the dropper. My favorite dropper flies are beadhead pheasant tails or zebra midges.
Accesses on the Buffalo National River are open now that the government shutdown is over. Crooked Creek was never affected. Both streams are extremely low. The smallmouth are still active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown Clouser minnow. 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.
Quarry Park and the boat ramp below the Norfork Dam have reopened now that the federal government shutdown is over. The Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is working on a bank stabilization project upstream from the Ackerman access, which is causing some severely stained water conditions, when they are working. There has been wadable water on the Norfork and it has fished well despite the limited access and stained water conditions. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Grasshoppers have produced fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). 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). The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished well. School is back in session and now is a great time to fish it, particularly during the week when there is no one there. Weekends can get a bit crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. The adjacent Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open to the public. Stocking should resume.
The water level on the Spring River is fishable. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. 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.
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.
The North Arkansas Fly Fishers have scheduled celebrated fly tyer, A. K. Best, to present several programs and tie flies at the Bull Shoals White River State Park Visitors Center on November 2 and 3. These programs are open to the public and free of charge.
John Berry is a fly fishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished our local streams for over thirty years.