During the past week, we have had rain (just a trace here in Cotter), cold temperatures and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals fell four tenths of a foot to rest at five and four tenths feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is forty one and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock dropped five tenths of a foot to rest at one and six tenths feet below seasonal power pool and seventeen and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped seven tenths of a foot to rest at three feet below seasonal power pool and twelve and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had significant wadable water with little or no generation. Norfork Lake fell four tenths of a foot to rest at two and six tenths feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and twenty eight and eight tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had light generation and significant wadable water.
Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now below the top of power pool. We should expect more wadable water in the near future
On the White, the hot spot has been Buffalo 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 is a Y2K (#10) with a ruby midge (#14) suspended below it). Use lead to get your flies down.
The Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. With the cooler weather the smallmouths are less active. 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.
On the Norfork, the water is stained. It has fished poorly. 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 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 #10). The fishing is better in the morning. My favorite rig has been a cerise San Juan worm with a pheasant tail dropper (#10).
Dry Run Creek is stained but still fishing well. The brown trout have moved in for the spawn. The hot flies have been sowbugs (#14), Y2Ks (#12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise #10). While you are at the creek you should visit the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.
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. Canoe season is over there are few boats on the river. 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 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 five years.
SOWBUG ROUNDUP FLY TYING CONTEST 2018
BY JOHN BERRY
This morning when I got up and began loading my river boat I noticed that there was a really heavy frost on my wind shield. It took several minutes to scrape it all off. It was well below freezing and my hands were frozen stiff before I finished. For my day of fishing, it was definitely a cold start. As I was drifting, I thought that this day would probably be better suited to tying flies rather than fishing. Don’t get me wrong. I love fishing in the winter but sometimes it is very rewarding to be tying flies in front of a roaring fire.
While we all need to restock our fly boxes after a long busy season, the Sowbug Roundup is coming up on March 22, 23 and 24 at the Baxter County Fairgrounds. This is a fly tying show and the premier fly fishing related show in the area. An integral part of the Sowbug Roundup is the fly tying contest and I am the chairman.
I really enjoy doing it. I invite each of you to enter the contest. There are ten categories, nymph, dry fly, wet fly, streamer, smallmouth bass, bass, warm water, salmon/steelhead, salt water and tenkara. In addition there is a best in show. The winners of each category and the best in show will receive a plaque (the perfect thing to hang over your tying desk). The real prize is the bragging rights for winning.
Rules have been kept to a minimum. The entrant must tie the fly submitted for judging. Each entry must include the name, address, phone number and email address along with two flies for each pattern submitted (they must be exactly the same size, color, etc). You need to include the recipe for the fly, instructions on how to fish it and the category you wish to have it judged in. You may submit as many patterns for as many categories as you want. You can win a maximum of three categories (best in show is considered a category). All flies submitted will become the property of the contest and will not be returned. Any fly that contains insect parts (legs wings, etc.) will be eliminated from competition. Commercially tied patterns will not be accepted. The decision of the judges is final. Committee members and judges are not eligible to participate in the contest.
To participate, all you have to do is send your flies, recipes and fishing instructions to me, John Berry, at 408 Combs Ave. Cotter, Arkansas 72626 by Wednesday February 12, 2018. The winners will be announced on Friday March 23, 2018 at the Sowbug Roundup Shindig which will be held at St. Peter the Fisherman Catholic Church beginning at 6:00 PM. This event has become the top fly fishing social event of the year.
I hope that all of the fly tyers out there will enter the contest. In the past we have had some great entries and we expect nothing less this year.