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John Berry Fishing Report 7/28/2011

John Berry

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During the past week, we have had no rain and hot temperatures (to include heat advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell two feet to rest at thirty and two tenths feet above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is ten and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one and three tenths feet to rest at two feet above power pool or fourteen feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell seven tenths of a foot to rest at four and seven tenths feet above power pool or four and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had a classic summer generation schedule, with little generation at night and higher levels of generation during peak power demand. There has been little wadable water. Norfork Lake fell one and six tenths of a foot to rest at sixteen and four tenths feet above power pool of 552.00 feet or eleven and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have also had a summer generation schedule with light or no generation at night and high generation during times of peak demand. There has been reliable wadable water every morning.

The rate of drop on the lakes has increased. As we reach power pool on Table Rock, we will see an even faster rate of drop on Bull Shoals particularly with the high energy demands brought on by the unseasonably hot weather.

The heat has been unrelenting. The best way to avoid it has been to fish early. Wet wading is a great way to beat the heat. Dress lightly and drink plenty of fluids (water is best). Don’t forget to use plenty of sunscreen.

The best place to fish remains the section from Ranchette access down to Buffalo city. On low water the hot flies were pheasant tails, copper Johns and prince nymphs in size fourteen or sixteen. 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 has been Rim Shoals. The low flows it has received in the morning have been perfect for drifting. Pheasant tails, copper Johns and red zebra midges have accounted for a lot of fish. The heavy water has been getting there around one or two o’clock. The most effective fly on the higher flows is a hot fluorescent pink or cerise San Juan worm.

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 big fish. You need a nine foot 2X leader and a stiff rod (a six weight would be perfect). 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 most effective patterns are Dave’s hoppers or big western foam hoppers (both in tan). To increase your catch, use a small nymph as a dropper. Effective nymphs would be pheasant tails or copper Johns.

Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are very low and gin clear. They are so low you may have to drag your boat through certain sections. 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. With significantly less wadable water on the White, the Norfork received substantially more pressure this past week. This has been exacerbated by the fact that the low water has occurred in the early morning, when it is cool. 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. Most fish are lost at the net. The small net that most anglers carry attached to their vest is not large enough for the big fish that are the norm here. Long handled boat nets are perfect.

The water level on the Spring River is lower but stained. This is a great place to wade fish. However, there are many canoeists 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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