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John Berry Fishing Report 7/07/2011

John Berry

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During the past week, we have had a moderate rain event and warmer temperatures. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell one and three tenths feet to rest at thirty four feet above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is seven feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one and four tenths feet to rest at six and two tenths feet above power pool or nine and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell six tenths of a foot to rest at six and six tenths feet above power pool or three feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had a classic summer generation with light to moderate generation at night and higher levels of generation during peak power demand with some wadable water. Norfork Lake fell one foot to rest at twenty and five tenths feet above power pool of 552.00 feet or seven and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have also had a summer generation schedule with moderate generation at night and high generation during times of peak demand with reliable wadable water every morning.

When the flood gates were open on the White, numerous warm water species went through the gates and escaped into the river. Several anglers have targeted these fish and have done well catching walleye, white bass and other species below Bull Shoals dam. Remember that there are special regulations for this area. You can harvest these warm water species but you must comply with legal limits, use barbless hooks and you cannot use natural baits or scents. In addition, some anglers were observed fishing in the restricted area near the dam. This is illegal and should be avoided.

The best place to fish was the upper river from White Hole down to Cotter, with the Wildcat Shoals area being red hot. The key to fishing the high flows has been to fish long leader/tippet combinations (twelve feet or longer), very heavy weight (two or more AAA split shot) and a large strike indicator set at the top of the leader. The go to flies have been brightly colored San Juan worms (red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and egg patterns in pink or orange.

Another hot spot was Rim Shoals. It has received some very fishable water levels in the morning. The hot flies were brightly colored San Juan worms (hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and egg patterns. To increase the possibility of hook ups consider adding a copper John or zebra midge. If you want to wade, Rim Shoals Trout Dock runs a water taxi and will ferry you to wadable water and bring you back for a moderate fee.

Grasshopper season is upon us. They provide us with some of the best and most reliable dry fly fishing of the year. These are large tempting morsels that can tempt large fish. You need a stout (2X) leader and a stiff rod. The trick is to bang the bank and imitate the action of a grasshopper that has fallen into the water and is struggling. An occasional twitch can generate a vicious take. The best patterns are Dave’s hoppers or big western foam hoppers.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and clear. The water temperature is right on and the small mouths action has been red hot! Several anglers have reported success with Clouser minnows and 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 action has picked up a bit on the Norfork. The ramp at Quarry Park was severely damaged when the flood gates were opened significantly to relieve the dam and is being repaired. Check the ramp before attempting to launch to ensure that it is usable. With the White fishing well, the Norfork received much less pressure this past week. On high water, the best technique has been to drift brightly colored San Juan worms (red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and egg patterns (pink and orange). Some anglers have reported success banging the bank with hopper patterns. On low water, midge patterns and soft hackles have been the key to success.

Dry Run Creek has fished well. The hot flies have been sowbugs and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). The creek is located in a tight little valley and is generally several degrees cooler than the norm. This is a great place to beat the heat. While you are there, take a few minutes to tour the adjacent National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

The water level on the Spring River is lower and clearer. This is a great place to wade fish. However, there are many canoeists there this time of year, particularly on the weekends. If you wish to escape them, fish the upper section near the Lassiter Access. 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 the Dam Three Access. The hot flies have been olive woolly buggers with a bit of flash, cerise and hot pink San Juan worms and Y2Ks.

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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