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John Berry Fishing Report 2/07/2008

John Berry

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Due to a recent violent storm front rain, the lake levels on the White River system have risen a bit. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam remained steady at two feet below power pool at 654.00 feet. Up stream, Table Rock Lake rose two tenths of a foot to settle at three and six tenths of a foot below power pool. Beaver Lake rose four tenths of a foot to settle at six and five tenths of a foot below pool. There generation pattern on the White has been a bit of a mixed bag. On some days, there have been one or two spikes of heavy generation followed by periods of low generation. On other days, there have been short periods of no generation. This has created very limited wading opportunities and some excellent boating opportunities. The weather has also been a mixed bag. Some days were cold and incredibly windy and we had a couple of unseasonably warm days that spawned a killer tornado. Norfork Lake has risen seven tenths of a foot to rest three and seven tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet. The pattern on the Norfolk has been for very little generation. We had a few days with no generation at all and some days with a brief period of heavy generation. This has created excellent wading conditions every day. The forecast is for the weather to remain cold with the possibility of precipitation. With the existing conditions, we should have some wadable water on both rivers.

All of the action during the last week was centered in the recently opened Catch and Release section at the base of Bull Shoals dam. Numerous anglers came into the area to participate in the opening of the area after the spawn. There were several trophy trout caught. The action seemed to be best on midges, eggs (peach) and on heavy generation San Juan worms. Due to the infestation of this section by Didymo (the invasive algae), we are not seeing many sowbugs or scuds here. I caution all wading anglers to please avoid walking through the Redds (spawning beds recently filled with fertilized eggs by brown trout). Now is a particularly vulnerable time for the eggs and they need to be left alone so that they can hatch and become big brown trout. The redds can easily be identified as clean light colored depressions in the gravel bottom.

Every one is still on the look out for shad coming through the turbines at Bull Shoals and Norfork Dams. The recent rain and cold front should help create the conditions necessary for this natural phenomenon. The shad kill usually occurs during extremely cold weather and high generation. As yet, there have been no shad observed. One of the early indicators is, gulls converging below the dams to feed on the shad. The most effective flies to use during the shad kill would be large white streamers in floating and sinking versions.

Anglers wishing to avoid the crowds at Bull Shoals Dam headed down stream to find a bit of solitude. One of the better spots was Roundhouse shoals in Cotter. There is plenty of water there with easy access. Hot flies here were gray sowbugs, olive scuds, zebra midges and olive woolly buggers. On higher water, brightly colored San Juan worms and egg patterns did the trick.

Rim Shoals was fishing very well. The hot flies for this section have been gray sowbugs, olive woolly buggers, olive scuds, black zebra midges with silver wire and silver bead and brown zebra midges with copper wire and copper beads. On high water, the section below the first island has fished particularly well. The hot fly has been the San Juan worm in cerise.

The Norfork has fished a bit slow. There have been few anglers here in spite of the reliable midge hatches in the afternoon. Anglers have done the best with Norfork bead heads in olive size eighteen, zebra midges in black with silver wire and silver beads and brown with copper wire and copper beads in the same size. When the fish are keying in on the midge emergers in the film, Dan’s turkey tail emerger and Chucks emerger both in size eighteen have been the go to patterns.

There were a few kids at Dry Run Creek this past week and predictably they did well. While sowbugs are a reliable producer, try fishing an olive woolly bugger under an indicator. They generate a lot of strikes and the larger hook helps to land some of these big fish. With these you can use really heavy tippet (3X or 4X). Most fish are lost at the net. Take the biggest one that you can lay your hands on and do not forget the camera.

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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