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John Berry Fishing Report 8/18/2011

John Berry

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During the past week, we have had several minor rain events and generally cooler temperatures. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell three and six tenths feet to rest at twenty one and four tenths feet above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is nineteen and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at eight tenths of a foot above power pool or fifteen and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at three and three tenths feet above power pool or six and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had fairly heavy generation around the clock. There has been no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell two and three tenths of a foot to rest at eleven and six tenths feet above power pool of 552.00 feet or sixteen and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had a classic summer generation schedule with light or no generation at night and high generation during times of peak power demand. There has been reliable wadable water early every morning. The rate of drop on the lakes has increased.

The best place to fish was the section from Rim Shoals to Buffalo City. On low water the hot flies were pink San Juan worms with copper Johns and red zebra midges in size fourteen or sixteen as droppers. The flows have been fairly constant with little fluctuation all day. The key to fishing the high flows has been to fish long leader/tippet combinations (twelve feet or longer), very heavy weight (AAA split shot) and a large strike indicator set at the top of the leader.

Another hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. The even flows it has received have been perfect for drifting. Various nymphs like 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 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 has continued to receive substantially more pressure this past week. The fishing in the morning on low water has been surprisingly good. Arrive early to stake a choice spot and always be on the lookout for rising water. The top flies have been green butt and partridge and orange soft hackles. Dan’s turkey tail emerger has also accounted for a lot of fish. 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.

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 always a bit cooler. This is always a great place to beat the heat. Remember that there is a lot of tree cover and there is precious little room to cast. The best technique is to high stick nymphs with a very short line. The creek is so small you do not have to cast far. Do not forget your camera. Use a flash! The tree cover is so thick you need it to capture the picture of a life time.

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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More water than I want for fly fishing most days, but I'm looking forward to being able to use ramps on BSL.

Every Saint has a past, every Sinner has a future. On Instagram @hamneedstofish

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