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John Berry Fishing Report 9/16/2010

John Berry

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During the past week, we have had several rain events and moderate temperatures. The skies have been generally sunny. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam rose one and five tenths of a foot to rest at five tenths of a foot above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Up stream, Table Rock Lake rose nine tenths of a foot to rest at one and four tenths of a foot above power pool or thirteen and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose four tenths to rest at three and five tenths of a foot below power pool or thirteen and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had light generation over night and in the morning with heavier generation in the afternoon (during peak power demand) with some significant periods of no generation. This made for very limited wading and some great drift fishing conditions. Norfork Lake rose eight tenths of a foot to rest at power pool of 552.00 feet or twenty eight feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had significant periods of no generation daily which has created some reliable wading. All of the lakes on the White River System are near or below power pool and we should have more wadable water.

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 dissolved oxygen levels on the White and Norfork Rivers have dropped below the State standard of six parts per million. This problem will be more prevalent near either dam. Please be careful when fighting and releasing fish to avoid stressing them in these areas. Carefully revive and release all trout caught.

Though they are still working, grasshoppers seem to be on the wane this past week. The cooler temperatures, particularly in the morning, seem to have slowed them down. If you catch a sunny, windy afternoon give them a try. Increase their productivity by suspending a dropper. Try a zebra midge or copperJohn.

After a rain like we received this week, try a brightly colored San Juan worm. Rains wash worms into the river and the trout key in on these tasty morsels. The most effective colors have been cerise and hot fluorescent pink. Add plenty of weight to make sure you get them down.

The lower flows we have received early in the day have been perfect for fishing nymphs. Small zebra midges, black or red with silver wire and silver bead in size sixteen or fourteen have been the go to flies. Fish them with a bit of lead eighteen inches above the fly and a strike indicator set at the depth of the water. When the flows increase go to a hot fluorescent pink worm with a zebra midge dropper.

On the higher flows we have been receiving later in the day, the key to success has been to fish brightly colored San Juan worms and egg patterns. The best colors for the San Juan worms have been red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise. The best colors for the eggs have been orange and peach.

The Catch and release section below Bull Shoals Dam has been a hot spot. The most effective technique has been to swing soft hackles on low water. The best patterns have been partridge and orange or small hares ear soft hackles.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are high and lightly stained. The water is at a comfortable temperature and the small mouths are active. Try Clouser minnows or 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 has been fishing particularly well. The crowds have diminished a bit and the fish are a bit larger and more plentiful. The most productive nymphs have been zebra midges and Norfork bead heads. Black has been the hot color. There has also been some pretty spectacular hopper action. The best hopper patterns have been western foam in tan with rubber legs. Try a sowbug dropper in the upper river and a midge dropper in the lower river. Others have reported success by fishing deeper holes with olive woolly buggers.

Dry Run Creek has fished extremely well. The most productive flies are sowbugs and worm brown San Juan worms. Have your youngster fish a short line and set the hook quickly. Do not rush the fight. A lot of fish are lost by trying to land them too quickly. Carry a big net. Use heavy tippet (at least 4X). Do not avoid moving around. There are good fish everywhere.

The water level on the Spring River is high and stained. 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 olive woolly buggers with a bit of flash, cerise San Juan worms and pheasant tail nymphs.

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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