During the past week, we have had a rain event (a half of an inch here in Cotter); hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell four and three tenths feet to land at three and four tenths feet above seasonal power pool of 661 feet. This is thirty and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell four tenths of a foot to rest at nine tenths of a foot below seasonal power pool and fourteen and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at four tenths of a foot below seasonal power pool and nine feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell two and one tenth feet to rest at one and one tenth feet above seasonal power pool of 555.75 feet and twenty three and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had some wadable water at night.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. The lakes are either at, below or nearly at power pool. All of the lakes will be below seasonable power pool in a week. We should expect much lower water next week.
The hopper bite is a bit slower but there are still some good days. Bang the bank with a grass hopper. My favorite fly for this technique is a western pink lady in a size eight. Add a midge dropper to increase your catch.
With higher flows, the fishing has slowed a bit. The top 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 with a girdle bug dropper).
The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. 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 moderately. 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. My current favorite combination is a San Juan worm with an egg dropper.
Dry Run Creek is fishing poorly. The heavy pressure it received when school was out should be relieved now that school in back in session. 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 fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. The canoe season is upon us. Look out for the aluminum hatch! 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.
John Berry is a fly fishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished these local streams for over thirty five years.