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John Berry Fishing Report 2/04/2010

John Berry

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During the past week, we have had brutally cold temperatures and the remnants of a major snowfall. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell six tenths of a foot to rest at seven tenths of a foot above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Up stream, Table Rock Lake rose three tenths of a foot to rest at nine tenths of a foot above power pool or fifteen and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell two and three tenths of a foot to arrive at eight tenths of a foot above power pool or eight and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had fairly steady levels of generation around the clock. Norfork Lake fell one and four tenths feet to rest at six tenths of a foot above power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty seven and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had steady generation with one brief window of wadable water at night. The Corps of Engineers has maintained its aggressive drawdown of the lakes in the White River System. All of the lakes in the White River system are currently less than a foot from power pool. We can expect some lower flows and the possibility of wadable water. As I write this, we have more precipitation coming and it is impossible to predict how this will affect lake levels.

There were significant changes to trout fishing regulations effective January 1, 2010. The Catch and Release section on the Norfork River will be increased from it current size of 1.1 miles to a new total of approximately two miles. The new upper boundary will be the bottom of long hole and the new lower limit will be the Ackerman access. The new regulations will also allow for multiple hook points in Catch and Release sections on the White and Norfork Rivers. Up to three treble hooks will be allowed. All hook points must be barbless. Of interest to fly fishers, is that the new regulations will allow the use of droppers, multiple fly rigs and articulated multiple hook streamers.

The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam, which was closed from November 1, 2009 through January 31, 2010 for the brown trout spawn, has now reopened. Due to bitterly cold weather conditions and high water, there were not as many anglers on hand for opening day as usual. The fishing went well. The catch was mostly rainbows. There has been some success on shad patterns but most of the trout were caught with brightly colored San Juan worms and egg patterns.

Fishing on the White in general has been excellent. The hot section has been Rim Shoals. On the steady flows, we have been receiving; use brightly colored San Juan worms (red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and egg patterns (red, pink and orange). Other effective patterns have been scuds, sowbugs, copper johns and various midge patterns.

Some anglers have reported success from fishing streamers. Concentrate on banging the bank or any heavy structure where fish can escape the current. Your best bet would be to use large articulated streamers like the zoo cougar or leg spreader on heavy (300 grain or heavier) sink tips. You will need at least an eight weight rod to cast this rig. Use a short piece of heavy mono (three feet of 2X fluorocarbon tippet) in lieu of a conventional leader to help get the fly down. This strategy targets big fish, but is a lot of work. I like to carry two rods, one that is rigged for streamers and one that is rigged for nymphs.

When we have high flows like this, trout will seek the comfort provided by feeder creeks to escape the heavy currents. Look in the lower stretches of Jenkins Creek or Crooked Creek to locate trout.

Brutally cold temperatures and high levels of generation are the perfect conditions for creating a shad kill. This generally occurs when the water temperature on the lake is forty two degrees. Threadfin shad are drawn through the dam turbines and create a feeding frenzy in the river below. Be on the lookout for gulls feeding on the shad below the dam. The most effective flies will be white shad patterns. Be sure and have both floating and sinking versions.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are running clear. The water temperatures are too cold for the smallmouth to be active.

The Norfork has received steady generation. On the high flows, brightly colored San Juan worms (red, cerise and hot fluorescent pink) and egg patterns (peach and orange) have been the go to flies. Long leader tippet combinations and heavy weight have been the secret to success. Work the banks and submerged weed beds. Be on the lookout for a shad kill.

Dry Run Creek has fished well. The hot fly has been sow bugs in size fourteen. Worm brown San Juan worms and egg patterns have also done well. Work is underway on the boardwalk along the creek that is being constructed by the Friends of the National Fish Hatchery. This will enhance access, particularly for the handicapped anglers. Stop by and take a look. It is pretty terrific. My wife, Lori, and I recently visited and walked the creek. We were impressed with the bank stabilization, which was done in a way that creates a lot of new spots to fish that do not require the youngsters to wear waders.

The Spring River has been fishing well. The water level is still a bit high and off color. This makes for challenging wading. Be sure and wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been Y2Ks, olive woolly buggers, cerise San Juan worms and cotton candy.

Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers 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.

Practice water safety and always check conditions before you leave home.

John Berry is a fly fishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished our local streams for over twenty five years.

John Berry


Fly Fishing For Trout




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