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During the past week, we have had rain (about a half inch here in Cotter), cooler temperatures and heavier winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals dropped one and two tenths feet 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 dropped three tenths of a foot to rest at a foot below seasonal power pool and fifteen feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake dropped three tenths feet to rest at seven tenths of a foot below seasonal power pool and ten and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had some wadable water with light generation. Norfork Lake fell two tenths of a foot to rest at four tenths of a foot below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and twenty six and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had light generation and reliable 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 wadable water in the near future.
Hopper season is here. Many guides are banging the bank with grasshopper patterns. Add a nymph dropper (ruby midge) to increase takes. If the grasshopper is hit or sinks, set the hook. My favorite grasshopper pattern is a western pink lady.
On the White, 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 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 warmer weather the smallmouths are more 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 fishes well one day and poorly the next. 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 begun moving 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 on and there many 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.
This morning I fished with Gus, on Dry Run Creek. Dad was there too, to take pictures. It was a cool start, forty seven degrees, but the day warmed up, as we fished. It was a bit foggy, on the drive over, but the fog burned off as soon as we got there revealing a sunny sky. I knew that a lot of brown trout had moved into the creek but I didn’t really see them because the water was quite stained. This is a holdover, from the flooding, on the Norfork this spring. In addition, there was an unmistakable odor of sulphur, in the air. This is a tell tale sign that Norfork lake is turning over.
We arrived at 7:30 AM and we were, on the water, in ten minutes. There was no one there and we had the place to ourselves. I went to one of our favorite spots. The first twenty minutes were a bit slow. We began hooking trout but lost about three before we hooked a stout twenty four inch rainbow. It was a good fight but Gus did a great job and brought it in, in short order. It was a male with a large kype. That was a great fish to begin the day and on omen of things to come.
The next fish was a fat twenty four inch brown. We caught several more there including a twenty three inch rainbow and a twenty two inch brown. It was slowing down there and I figured it was time to move. We walked far upstream and arrived at one of my cherished spots. I knew that it was loaded with trout but could not see them as the water was stained. We fished it for a few minutes but did not hook anything.
I moved to my next spot and struck gold. The first fish was a twenty three inch rainbow then a twenty inch brown. We caught several slightly smaller trout. It was definitely enough action to keep our minds, in the game. Then Gus struck pay dirt and hooked a monster. It took a long run downstream. Gus carefully finessed it in closer so that I could finally net it. It was a seriously thick twenty seven inch rainbow. This was another male with a thick kype. We took a few minutes to take some photos. It was so big that Gus had trouble lifting it so I shed my gloves, wet my hands and posed the fish, for the camera. We took a few minutes to carefully release the trout. We took a few more fish and then began walking out.
We tried several spots and caught fish most places. We caught one good rainbow, several good browns and a bunch of slightly smaller trout. We ended the day with five trophy trout and about twenty other fish most of them were eighteen inches or better.
When we got back to the car, I found out that Gus was eight years old. He was the best angler for his age that I had seen in years. It was a great day to be a guide.