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John Berry Fishing Report 2/17/2011

John Berry

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During the past week, we have had no measurable precipitation, milder temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam remained steady at seven and three tenths feet below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty eight and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose three tenths of a foot to rest at eight and six tenths feet below power pool or twenty four and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose four tenths of a foot to rest at ten feet below power pool or nineteen and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had moderate generation with significant periods of no generation. Norfork Lake fell seven tenths of a foot to rest at ten and eight tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty eight and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had a similar pattern of moderate generation and significant periods of wadable water. All of the lakes on the White River System are lower than we have seen them for several years and we should receive more wadable water. The increased periods of wadable water that we have had during the past week were a result of milder weather and reduced power demand.

The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam was closed 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 was seasonal Catch and Release for the same period. These sections are now open. These trout have not been fished over for three months; they have finished their spawn and are ready to feed. 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 wade around them.

The hot spot has been the recently opened Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam. On lower flows, the blue wing olive hatch is on the wane but there are some great midge hatches on sunny afternoons. Before the hatches, try small zebra midges. The reported hot colors have been camel and pink. Once you observe trout hitting the top of the water, give Dan’s turkey tail emerger a try. Several anglers have reported success with small Adams parachutes. On higher flows egg patterns and San Juan worms have been the hot flies. Several anglers have reported success on shad patterns.

As the temperatures warm, the conditions required for a shad kill are slipping through our fingers. The lake levels are much lower than the last few years at this time, which could affect generation levels. We have not experienced a shad kill, as of yet, but several guides have reported success with shad patterns on high levels of generation.

On the higher flows, the most consistent technique to catch the big browns has been to bang the bank and any heavy cover with large streamers. The hot flies have been zoo cougars, circus peanuts and sex dungeons cast on two hundred fifty grain lines or heavier. Be sure and pinch down the barbs on these big flies. If you duff a cast and have to remove one of them from yourself, it could be painful.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 very 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 a few more anglers particularly on the weekends. We have had wadable water every day. There have been some spectacular 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 and several anglers have had substantial success with size twenty parachute Adams. Some anglers have reported success on caddis emergers like the green butt. On high water, try brightly colored San Juan worms (cerise and hot pink) or egg patterns (orange and peach).

Dry Run Creek has had a few more anglers that stopped by to appreciate the warmer weather and spectacular fishing. Now is a great time to visit the creek, get some fresh air and shake off the cabin fever. The hot flies have been the sowbug and worm brown San Juan worms. While you are there, take a tour of 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 very 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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