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John Berry Fishing Report 8/04/2011

John Berry

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During the past week, we have had no rain and brutally hot temperatures (to include heat advisories and excessive heat warnings). Temperatures over 100 degrees have been the norm. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell two and three tenths feet to rest at twenty seven and nine tenths feet above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is thirteen and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell seven tenths of a foot to rest at one and three tenths feet above power pool or fourteen and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell seven tenths of a foot to rest at four feet above power pool or five and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had a classic summer generation schedule, with light generation at night and high levels of generation during peak power demand. There has been no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell one and seven tenths of a foot to rest at fourteen and seven tenths feet above power pool of 552.00 feet or thirteen and three 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 was the section from Rim Shoals down to Ranchette. On low water the hot flies were pheasant tails, copper Johns and prince nymphs in size fourteen or sixteen. The heavy water has been getting there around one or two o’clock. 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 Wildcat 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 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. Many takes occur when the fly hits the water. 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 mouth 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 on the Norfork. With no 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. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday the first session of the Trout Unlimited summer camp was in full swing and when the campers we not fishing or learning they did a stream clean up. Thank you! Trout Unlimited Education Director, Henry Seay, said that the tubing activities were limited to the lower section of the creek below the waterfall to keep from disturbing any anglers. There will be another summer camp session on the same days next week.

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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