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John Berry Fishing Report 1/15/2011

John Berry

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During the past week, we have had a couple of minor snow events, frigid temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories and wind chill advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell nine tenths of a foot to rest at five and four tenths feet below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty six and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Up stream, Table Rock Lake fell nine tenths of a foot to rest at six and nine tenths feet below power pool or twenty two and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at eight and four tenths feet below power pool or eighteen feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had an erratic schedule with a substantial period of heavy water in the morning and again in the afternoon with lower water in between and only one short period of wadable water for the week. Norfork Lake fell six tenths of a foot to rest at seven and six tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty five and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had a similar pattern with less generation and reliable wadable water. All of the lakes on the White River System are significantly below power pool and we should receive more wadable water. The heavy generation we had this week was due to the increased power demands brought on by the frigid temperatures.

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 bottom of 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 in spawn. There are spawning beds 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.

The fishing has been good for those anglers willing to brave the elements. The hot spot has been the upper White River from the State Park down to White Hole. The key to success has been to effectively fish the constantly changing water levels. It was necessary to constantly adjust the strike indicators and split shot to keep the fly on the bottom. There are reports that the bite was better on falling water. Hot flies have been brightly colored San Juan worms and egg patterns. Various midge nymphs suspended below them also accounted for some good fish.

On the higher flows, one of the more productive techniques has been to bang the bank with large streamers. The hot flies have been zoo cougars and circus peanuts cast on two hundred fifty grain lines or heavier. To toss this rig all day is heavy work and you will need a stiff eight weight rod and heavy tippet, at least 3X.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and clear. The water temperature is low and the small mouths are not active. 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 continued to fish well this week. There have been few anglers. We have had wadable water here every day but the weather has kept most anglers at home. There have been some good midge hatches. Try black zebra midges in size twenty or olive Norfork bead heads the same size. Dan’s turkey tail emerger has been the hot fly. There have been substantial changes to the section below Norfork Dam there due to the recent work on the ramp area. It has been built up and at low water the current is now directed to the far bank. Thanks to a new emergency exit it is now much safer to fish below the Ackerman access. Remember, this exit is located on private land and is for egress only. On high water, try brightly colored San Juan worms (cerise and hot pink) or egg patterns (orange and peach).

Dry Run Creek has fished well. With the extreme we had this week, there have been few young anglers fishing there. The hot flies have been sowbugs and worm brown San Juan worms. If you have an adventurous youngster that has plenty of cold weather gear, now would be a great time to visit Dry Run Creek. The creek is teeming with large trout and there is plenty of room to fish. Be sure to take a camera to record the fish of a life time. While you are there, take a few minutes to visit the adjacent National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Please remove your waders before entering 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 spot has been downstream from the dam Three access. 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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