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John Berry Fishing Report

John Berry

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During the past week, we have had a bit of rain and cooler temperatures. The skies have been generally sunny with a lot of extremely heavy wind (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell six tenths of a foot to rest at one and seven tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty two and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Up stream, Table Rock Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at four tenths of a foot below power pool or sixteen and four tenths of a foot below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at four and four tenths feet below power pool or fourteen feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had an erratic schedule with a burst of heavy water in the morning and again in the afternoon with one period of no generation for the week. Norfork Lake fell one foot to rest at two feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had significant generation with precious little wadable water. All of the lakes on the White River System are at or below power pool and we should have 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.

The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam will close from November 1, 2010 to January 31, 2011 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park from the Catch and Release section down to the wing wall will be seasonal Catch and Release for the same period.

On the White, the browns are beginning to pod up from below Rim Shoals to the dam in preparation for their run to the spawning beds in November. There are spawning beds that are beginning to appear in various locations. Please try to avoid these areas. On high water, do not drag chains through them. On low water, carefully avoid them when wading.

We are still experiencing some great grasshopper fishing, which should continue until the first frost. Use a six weight with a stout leader. Work the bank and any significant cover carefully. Use a Dave’s hopper or a large western foam hopper with rubber legs. Increase your catch by adding a dropper to the bend in the hook.

The erratic flows we have received have been challenging to deal with. As the flows increase, you will need to add more weight and adjust your strike indicator. With the impending spawn, egg patterns have been the go to flies. Copper Johns and black zebra midges have also been very productive. Fish them with a bit of lead eighteen inches above the fly and a strike indicator set at the depth of the water.

The hot spot for the last week has been the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam. There are some big fish being caught. The hot flies are various midge patterns, San Juan worms and egg patterns. Remember that the dissolved oxygen is dangerously low in this section. Do not fight the trout too long or stress them in any way.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are very low and clear. The water is at a comfortable temperature and the small mouths are active. Try Clouser minnows or crawfish patterns. Fall is approaching and these streams will soon be too cold for effective fishing. 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 productive. There are numerous large trout that have moved into the Norfork. The most productive nymphs have been zebra midges and Norfork bead heads. Others have reported success by fishing deeper holes with olive woolly buggers. Remember that the section below the dam has dangerously low dissolved oxygen levels. Do not fight the trout too long or stress them in any way.

Dry Run Creek has fished extremely well. The weather is perfect, especially in the afternoon. There are a number of large brown trout that have begun to move up into the creek. The hot flies have been cerise San Juan worms and sowbugs. Use at least 4X tippet. While you are there, take a tour of the adjacent National Fish Hatchery. Be sure and remove your waders to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

The water level on the Spring River is low and clear. 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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