March 7th, 2014 berrybrothersguides



During the past week, we have had freezing rain, sleet, snow, brutally cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell seven tenths of a foot to rest at two and two tenths feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is thirty eight and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake rose one tenth of a foot to rest at one and eight tenths feet below power pool and seventeen and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at two and five tenths feet below seasonal power pool or twelve and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had precious little wadable water. Norfork Lake rose six tenths of a foot to rest at two and two tenths feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and twenty eight and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had wadable water every day.


The water level for the top of power pool has been reset lower for some of the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes on this system are below power pool.


The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam was closed from November 1, 2013 to January 31, 2014 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park was seasonal Catch and Release for the same period. There are numerous redds around the area. Please use care when wading to avoid disturbing them.


On the White, the hot spot was the section from Rim Shoals down to Buffalo Shoals. The hot flies were olive woolly buggers, Y2Ks, prince nymphs, zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, ruby midges, pink and cerise San Juan worms, and sowbugs. Double fly nymph rigs have been very effective (try a cerise or pink San Juan worm with a midge pattern (ruby midge) suspended below it).


The Corps of Engineers have been running more water than they have in the previous week for the last few days that has been an advantage to streamer fishermen. To do this you need at least an eight weight fly rod, a heavy sink tip fly line and large articulated streamers. The idea is to bang the bank and strip the fly back to the boat. This is heavy work and requires advanced casting skills. Some effective patterns are sex dungeons and circus peanuts.


There have been reports of a minor shad kill on the Bull Shoals tail water below Bull Shoals Dam and conditions have been conducive on both rivers. This is a natural phenomenon where threadfin shad in the lake die and are drawn through the generators at the dam. These bits of shad produce a feeding frenzy. This usually occurs during extremely cold weather and high levels of generation. Watch for gulls hitting the shad as they come through the generators. The best flies are white shad patterns.


We have seen our first major caddis emergence of the year. Though it was sparse and the trout did not key in on them, it is a harbinger of spring and a promise of what is to come. This is our best hatch of the year. Before the hatch fish green caddis pupa size fourteen. You will often get more strikes at the end of the drift as the fly rises. When the move to the surface and begin keying in on emergers switch over to a green butt soft hackle size fifteen. When they start taking adult insects off the water’s surface, you should switch to a green elk hair caddis pattern size fourteen.


The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. With the cool temperatures, the smallmouth are inactive. 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 more wadable water on the Norfork. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles like the green butt. 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). There have been reliable hatches of small midges and very small caddis (try a size 24 Adams parachute).The fishing is much better in the morning and late afternoon and tapers off midday. Some anglers have been fishing heavy articulated streamers on sink tip lines on the higher flows to great effect.


Dry Run Creek has been virtually abandoned. Now would be a great time to fish it. The weather has warmed substantially and it is more comfortable for young anglers. The hot flies have been sowbugs, Y2Ks and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). Use at least 4X tippet (I prefer fluorocarbon) to maximize your youngsters chance at landing a big one.


The water level on the Spring River is clear and quite fishable. 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, 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 thirty years.

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