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During the past week, we have had a rain incident (just a trace here in Cotter), warmer temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals fell one tenth of a foot to rest at six and six tenths feet below seasonal power pool of 659 feet. This is forty two and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock fell three tenths of a foot to rest at six and six tenths feet below seasonal power pool and twenty two and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at seven and five tenths feet below seasonal power pool and seventeen and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had more wadable water with less generation. Norfork Lake fell two tenths of a foot to rest at eight and three tenth feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and thirty four and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had less generation and more 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. With the brutally cold water we should expect more generation to provide for increased energy demand.
The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam was closed from November 1, 2017 to January 31, 2018 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park was seasonal Catch and Release for the same period. All brown trout must be immediately released. In addition, night fishing was prohibited in this area during this period. This is now over and the regulations are as before.
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 cold 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 has cleared substantially but 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 Y2K with a ruby midge dropper.
Dry Run Creek has cleared some and 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). It is cold out there. Take frequent breaks, bring cocoa and dress your children warmly.
The Spring River is low and 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.
In an article, I wrote a couple of weeks ago, I called the Trout Unlimited Annual Banquet the high point of the social life for trout fishers in the Twin Lakes Area. For once I was 100% correct. My wife, Lori, and I had the best time ever. Everyone around us felt the same. Lori checked Face book the next day and saw post after post referring to the great time everyone had. Then just yesterday, at the Sowbug Roundup committee, one of the main topics of discussion was the Trout Unlimited Banquet.
I am no stranger to fund raising banquets. For several years before I moved here eighteen years ago, I worked for Ducks Unlimited as an accountant. They know a thing or two about fund raising. If they did not invent them, they perfected them. I was on the committee for seven different fund raisers and was the committee chairman for the annual cigar dinner. Despite this I have trouble figuring out just what it was that made the Trout Unlimited event so much fun.
I thought that the venue might have something to do with it. The event is always held at the Elks club. It is a nice large building with plenty of parking and is centrally located. It has a large hall that is getting crowded as this event grows.
Each year the word gets out and more and more people attend. It seems to be a younger crowd. There are a lot of fishing guides there along with a number of boat builders. There is even more diversity. We have people coming from across the state to attend. Lori and I sat with a couple of guys that drove over from Fayetteville to attend. They were serious Trout Unlimited members who wanted to support the local chapter’s efforts. It also seemed like everyone else that we knew was there.
Another thing was the food and drink. There were waitresses walking around taking orders. If that wasn’t quick enough, you could walk over to the bar and get your own. The food was heavy hors d’oeu’vres. It was tasty and plenty filling.
They had two food lines to make sure that everything went quickly. I spent next to no time in line.
There was an auction. They kept the items to a few great items and had the auction go quickly. It drives me crazy for an auction to go on for hours. This is bit of a pet peeve.
 Finally there was music. As usual it was supplied by a DJ. I always enjoy dancing with my lovely wife, Lori. For those who do not know, the Trout Unlimited Chapter President, Kevin Brantonies has a pretty darn good singing voice. He regaled us with some great music.
If you missed this year’s Trout Unlimited Banquet make sure and plan to attend next years. If you were there, you know what to do.