Harrison, AR United States
Crooked Creek Fishing Report 02.11.11
Submitted by Berry Brothers Guide ServiceSubmitted on 02/11/2011
During the past week, we have had a major snow event, extremely frigid temperatures and heavy winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell six tenths of a foot to rest at seven and three tenths feet below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty eight and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Up stream, Table Rock Lake fell two tenths of a foot to rest at eight and nine tenths feet below power pool or twenty four and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell four tenths of a foot to rest at ten and four tenths feet below power pool or twenty feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we had moderate generation with a few significant periods of no generation. Norfork Lake rose two tenths of a foot to rest at ten and one tenth feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty eight and one tenth feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had a similar pattern of moderate generation and a significant period of wadable water. All of the lakes on the White River System are lower than we have seen them for several years and we should receive more wadable water. The generation we had for the past few weeks was due to the increased power demands brought on by the frigid temperatures.
The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam was closed from November 1, 2010 to January 31, 2011 to accommodate the brown trout spawn. The State Park from the bottom of the Catch and Release section down to the wing wall was seasonal Catch and Release for the same period. These sections are now open. These trout have not been fished over for three months; they have finished their spawn and are ready to feed. There are spawning beds in various locations. Please try to avoid these areas. On high water, do not drag chains through them. On low water, carefully wade around them.
The fishing has been good for those anglers willing to brave the elements. The hot spot has been the recently opened Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam. We have been getting some decent blue wing olive hatches. The best imitation has been a parachute Adams. This is usually a pretty small insect but there have been reports of a wide range of sizes. Carry a variety of sizes from fourteen to twenty two and match the hatch. Pheasant tail nymphs will work well before the hatch.
With the cold weather, the lake surface temperatures are at or near those required for a shad kill. The lake levels are much lower than the last few years at this time, which could affect generation levels. We have not experienced a shad kill, as of yet, but several guides have reported success with shad patterns on high levels of generation. Our best bet for a shad kill will be late February.
On the higher flows, the most consistent technique to catch the big browns has been to bang the bank and any heavy cover with large streamers. The hot flies have been zoo cougars, circus peanuts and sex dungeons cast on two hundred fifty grain lines or heavier. Be sure and pinch down the barbs on these big flies. If you duff a cast and have to remove one of them from yourself, it could be painful.To toss this rig all day is heavy work and you will need a stiff eight weight rod and heavy tippet, at least 3X.
Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and clear. The water temperature is low and the small mouths are not active. 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.
The Norfork has continued to fish well this week. There have been few anglers. We have had wadable water every day. There have been some spectacular midge hatches. Try black zebra midges in size twenty or olive Norfork bead heads the same size. Dans turkey tail emerger has been the hot fly and several anglers have had substantial success with size twenty parachute Adams. On high water, try brightly colored San Juan worms (cerise and hot pink) or egg patterns (orange and peach).
Dry Run Creek has been abandoned. The brutal weather has kept everyone from fishing here. If you have a tough youngster with some proper cold weather gear, now is a great time to find some solitude and a perfect opportunity to land a huge trout. Try to catch a sunny day with little wind. That will make it much more comfortable. While you are there, take a tour of the adjacent National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Please remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.
The water level on the Spring River is very low and clear. Be sure and wear cleated boots and carry a wading staff. There is a lot of bedrock that can get very slick. The hot spot has been downstream from the dam Three access. The hot flies have been olive woolly buggers with a bit of flash, cerise San Juan worms and pheasant tail nymphs.
Remember that the White and Norfork Rivers 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.
Practice water safety and always check conditions before you leave home.
John Berry is a fly fishing guide in Cotter, Arkansas and has fished our local streams for over twenty five years.
HOW COLD WAS IT?
BY JOHN BERRY
Several months ago I scheduled a three day trip with Dennis and Marsha. They are seventy four years old and have been fly fishing for over forty five years. They live in Boulder, Colorado, have a fishing cabin in Wyoming, have fished all over the west, have gone after steelhead in British Columbia and targeted various species of salmon in Alaska. To say that they are serious anglers is quite an understatement. The goal of this trip was to fish opening day at Bull Shoals Dam.
As the dates neared, I watched the weather with some trepidation. There was a major blizzard forming and we were on the edge of it. It looked like we were going to get a serious ice storm. Ice is very different from snow in that it makes it very dangerous for anyone to get around. I had gotten caught in an unexpected ice storm several years ago and it had taken me three hours to get my client back to the hotel and myself home. My client ended up being stranded in his motel without power for three days while he waited for the roads to clear. We had been fishing at the same spot (Bull Shoals Dam) as we were planning to fish on this trip.
I talked to Dennis on the night before and we agreed to monitor conditions carefully. The next morning I woke up around four thirty and began gathering all of my fishing gear and getting ready for the day. I turned on the weather channel and noted that it was thirty four degrees and raining. I noted that the radar indicated that the icy conditions were closing in on Baxter County. At six fifteen the temperature had dropped to thirty two and the weather channel was reporting rain mixed with freezing rain in Mountain Home. I called Dennis at his hotel. We discussed the situation with him and we mutually agreed to cancel the day. We agreed to start the next day at 7:00 AM.
I awoke early and carefully dressed. The temperature was eleven degrees with a forecast high of eighteen and winds from twenty to thirty miles per hour out of the North and it was overcast with no hope of seeing the sun. This would push the wind chill below zero. I wore expedition weight long underwear, two pair of fleece pants, two fleece jackets, heavy socks and sock liners, heavy gloves, a down jacket, my waders and rain jacket and my waterproof hat with pull down flaps (think Elmer Fudd). I picked up Dennis and Marsha. They were wearing everything that they owned. We drove to Bull Shoals. The road to the ramp was iced over and I was concerned. We decided to drive to Rim Shoals.
The road and the ramp were clear. The water was low and wadable. We waded out at the shoals. The fishing was slow and it was frigid. I couldnt keep my feet and hands warm. At lunch, I suggested that we go to McDonalds despite the fact that I had a great lunch in my ancient Volvo. I figured we could get in out of the weather for a few minutes and warm our feet. It was heaven and we reluctantly left there after we finished our lunch.
When we got back to Rim, the water was running so I launched my river boat. It was even colder in the boat than it had been wading. It was miserable. The wind picked up and I had trouble maintaining a drift. The water had been off for five days and when it came up, it was very dirty. When I had to remove my gloves to tie on a new fly or repair a leader, my hands ached. My feet got chilled and I was unable to warm them. At times, I wondered whether I was guiding or trying to survive the conditions. At four PM Dennis and Marsha had enough. We returned to the hotel and agreed to start later the next day at 8:30 AM to let things warm a little.
Despite the later start it was eight degrees, when I picked Dennis and Marsha up. The forecast promised warmer temperatures and less wind velocity. We drove to Bull Shoals Dam and were pleased to see the road and ramp clear. I launched my boat and was glad to see another boat (our first fellow anglers in two days). They were running a lot of water (maybe the equivalent of five full generators). We began picking up fish immediately. As the generation was ramped down, the fishing got even better. We caught all of our fish on Y2Ks. I was drifting down from the dam and noticed that they had turned off the generation. I knew that I had to get the boat out of the water quickly as it was dropping fast. I motored over to the ramp and got my car. By the time I had my trailer in the water it was too shallow to run the motor and I had to push the boat onto the trailer
My clients wanted to continue fishing from the boat so I returned to Rim Shoals. I launched the boat and we did well. The flows were the heavier, like the ones we had early in the day at Bull Shoals, and the fish were feeding. We caught one or more trout on each drift. We did manage to hook a big brown and a really nice rainbow but we did not boat either one. The good fishing kept us busy and we were much warmer than we had been the day before. We had intermittent sunshine that helped a lot and the heavy winds of the day before were a thing of the past. What a difference a day makes. We finished the trip on a positive note. They were happy and landed a lot of trout.
Sometimes the day you choose to fish does not work out the way you want it to. Sometimes the next day is the better choice.
Steve B. asks: John the cold continues. Do you have any other suggestions on keeping warm?
Steve, have you tried any of the disposable hand warmers? I get them at Wal-Mart. When I start, I put them in my hand warmer pockets. Some people put them in the back of their gloves. I find that cumbersome. It is nice to put your hands on them. They generate heat for hours.