During the past week, we have had a couple of rain events (combined for half an inch here in Cotter), warm temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell five tenths of a foot to rest at twenty six and three tenths feet above power pool of 662 feet. This is six and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell six tenths of a foot to rest at five feet above power pool and nine feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake remained steady at six and eight tenths feet above power pool or one and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose two tenths of a foot to rest at sixteen and two tenths feet above power pool of 556.75 feet and seven feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had a bit more wadable water.
The water level for the top of power pool has been reset higher for all of the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River system are now well above power pool. With the current lake levels, we can expect some wadable water on the Norfork to prevent downstream flooding.
On the White, the hot spot has been the Wildcat Shoals. We have had heavier flows. The hot flies were Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and sowbugs. Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try an San Juan worm with an orange egg.
Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are navigable. With warmer temperatures, the smallmouths are active. The most effective fly has been a tan and brown 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.
There has been some wadable water on the Norfork during the day and it fished poorly. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead). Grasshoppers have produced fish, particularly when used in conjunction with a small nymph dropper (try a size 20 black zebra midge). Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead headed nymph (zebra midge, copper John or pheasant tail) suspended eighteen inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise). The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday.
Dry Run Creek has fished well. School is out and the creek is busy. Weekends can get a quite crowded. The hot flies have been sowbugs and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. Be sure and carry a large net, as most fish are lost at the net.
The water level on the Spring River is fishable. This is a great place to wade fish, when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. Canoe season is over and the canoes are mostly gone. 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, cerise and hot pink San Juan worms and Y2Ks.
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 soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.
John Berry is a fly fishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished our local streams for over forty years.