By John Berry, [email protected]
During the past week, we have had a minor rain event (just a trace here in Cotter), warmer temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell two and one tenth feet to rest at nine and five tenths feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is twenty six and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell four tenths of a foot to rest at five tenths of a foot above seasonal power pool and fifteen and five tenths feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell two tenths of a foot to rest at two and one tenth feet above seasonal power pool and seven and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell one and three tenths feet to rest at five and nine tenths feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and twenty and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had no wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. Due to recent rain all of the lakes are now above power pool.
On the heavy flows fishing has been spotty. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers (#8, #10), Y2Ks (#14, #12), prince nymphs (#14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead #16, #18), pheasant tails (#14), ruby midges (#18), root beer midges (#18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (#10), and sowbugs (#16). Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective (my current favorite combination is a San Juan worm and egg pattern use long leaders and lots of lead).
The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are clearing. With the cool temperatures the bite is still slow. My favorite fly is a Clouser minnow. 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 Norfork is fishing well. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding. There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (#18, #20, #22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (#14, #16) like the green butt. Egg patterns have also been productive. Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a San Juan worm and egg pattern combination.
Dry Run Creek is fishing well. There is increased pressure with warmer weather. Fish early or late to avoid the crowds (the creek is open to fishing from sunrise to sundown). The Norfork National Fish Hatchery is open but the restrooms are still closed. The hot flies have been sowbugs (#14), Y2Ks (#12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise #10), mop flies and egg patterns.
The Spring River is fishing well. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. Be sure to wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot flies have been olive woolly buggers with a bit of flash (#10), cerise and hot pink San Juan worms (#10) and Y2Ks (#10).
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers and Dry Run Creek 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 soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo. \\
John Berry is a flyfishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished Arkansas’ local streams for over 35 years. Find him at www.berrybrothersguides.com.