White River Tailwaters Fishing Report 07.12.12
Submitted by Berry Brothers Guide ServiceSubmitted on 07/12/2012
During the past week, we have had one rain event, warm temperatures and mild winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell two tenths of a foot to rest at one and nine tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty two and nine tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake dropped four tenths of a foot to rest at three and three tenths feet below power pool and nineteen and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at five and six tenths of a foot below power pool or fifteen and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had moderate generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake dropped seven tenths of a foot to rest at three and four tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty one and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had reliable wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River system are well below flood pool. With the cooler temperatures, we should receive more wadable water.
On the White, we have had limited wadable water. The hot flies were zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms and gold ribbed hare’s ears.
The hot spot has been the upper river from the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam down to Cain Island. The sulphur hatch has passed, although there may be a few stragglers around. The best time to fish is early morning. The bite is much better and it is much more comfortable for the angler. It can get pretty slow in the afternoon.
It is time to fish grasshoppers. These are terrestrials not aquatic insects. They are blown into the water by wind or fall in near the shore. They are large tempting morsels that can draw big fish. Use a nine foot 4X tippet and cast near the bank. Occasionally twitch the fly to imitate a struggling insect. Dave’s hoppers and large foam western hoppers are effective patterns. Use a small nymph as a dropper (a pheasant tail or a zebra midge is a good choice) tied to the bend in the hook with eighteen inches of 5X tippet to increase the takes. Make your connections with improved clinch knots.
Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are very low and gin clear. Both are barely navigable. You will have to drag your boat in some spots. Several anglers have reported success with Clouser minnows and crawfish patterns. The Buffalo has been fishing well. 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 reliable wadable water on the Norfork every day. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns like zebra midges (black or red) and Dan’s turkey tail emerger or soft hackles like my green butt or the partridge and orange. The fishing is much better in the morning and severely tapers off in the afternoon. You should wet wade to beat the heat. The ramp at Quarry Park has been repaired and is open for business. Trout Unlimited has planted Bonneville Cutthroat Trout eggs in the Catch and Release section. The area is marked with orange tape. Please do not disturb the gravel bottom any more than necessary. There are sixty nine Whitlock Vibert boxes containing 50,000 trout eggs planted there.
Dry Run Creek has fished well. The hot flies have been sowbugs and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise). Small orange or peach eggs have been very effective. The summer vacation season has begun and there will be more fishing pressure on the creek. Fish early, late or during the week to escape the crowds. This is the place to beat the heat. The creek is located in a tight little valley and it is always much cooler there. While you are there take a tour of the adjacent Norfork national Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.
The water level on the Spring River is low and clear. This is a great place to wade fish when they are running water on the White and Norfork Rivers. Canoe season is upon us and the boats are a major nuisance. You should consider fishing at the Lassiter Access, which is above the canoe section, to avoid the boating crowds. 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.
Practice water safety and always check conditions before you leave home.
PLANTING THE BONNEVILLE CUTTHROAT TROUT EGGS
BY JOHN BERRY
We met at 6:00 AM on a Saturday morning on private land on the Norfork River. It was a larger group than the day before (thirty five), when we prepared the Whitlock Vibert boxes at the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. As before, there were volunteers from Trout Unlimited, the Federation of Fly Fishers, the Mid South Fly Fishers, The North Arkansas Fly Fishers, The Arkansas Fly Fishers, Friends of the White and Norfork Rivers and Friends of the National Fish Hatchery as well as the Master Naturalists and Norfork National Fish Hatchery personnel. In the car behind me were Dave and Emily Whitlock who were to supervise the actual planting of the Bonneville Cutthroat eggs. It was nice to see them again.
The original plan was the plant half of the eggs in the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam and half in the Catch and Release section on the Norfork. We were to start on the White and then caravan over to the Norfork. However, we were limited to planting the eggs on the Norfork, as the Corps of Engineers had to run water on the White, due to the excessive heat (it was predicted to reach 104 degrees on that day). The early start was designed to escape as much of the heat as possible. It was sixty seven degrees when we started.
We began almost immediately, as there was much work to be done. The volunteers were divided into three basic groups. The first one was the gravel team. They dug gravel from the bottom of the river and filtered it through a mesh screen to eliminate silt and small stones. Larger rocks were also eliminated. The cleaned gravel was put into large buckets. Others on the team collected large stones to act as markers.
Another team prepared the eggs for planting. The carefully placed the Whitlock Vibert box into the wire cages, filled the remainder of the cage with clean gravel (supplied by the gravel team) and secured the tops to the cages. The performed this task on a folding table that was slowly moved downstream as the planting progressed.
The final team was the planting team. They dug the holes in the river bottom and planted the caged Whitlock Vibert boxes that contained the eggs. This was done with great precision. The holes were located at least ten feet from each other. A large hole was dug at least ten inches deep. This is no easy task in moving water that tended to fill the hole as fast as it was dug. The caged eggs were then carefully placed in the hole. The corded weight attached to the box was carefully placed on the downstream side (this would aid in retrieving the boxes, once the cutthroat eggs have hatched). The hole was carefully filled with clean gravel and outlined with three marker stones.
By planting the Whitlock Vibert boxes completely covered with clean gravel, they created a secure environment for the trout eggs. Once they hatch the trout can move around in the spaces within the gravel and grow until they are ready to move out in the river. It was imperative to carefully wash the gravel so that sand and silt did not fill these spaces.
The site chosen for the planting was carefully chosen. The spot was a shallow gravel run with a nice flow of water. The water depth is about mid calf high at low water so there is no danger of the eggs being stranded in dry gravel, when there is no generation. It is located in about the center of the Catch and Release section.
The whole planting was supervised by Dave Whitlock. He demonstrated each step of the process and was constantly inspecting each planting to ensure that it was done properly, in order to give the trout the best chance of survival. We were lucky to have one of the foremost authorities on this so intimately involved in this endeavor.
I was concerned about the possibility of the planting being disturbed by anglers. I discussed the situation with Dave and he assured me that the planting method offered a lot of protection for the eggs and that normal foot and boat traffic should not disturb them. As drag chains are not legal on the Norfork, this offers even more protection. The site has been marked with orange tape. I still feel that it would be best to avoid that section of the river for the next month as much as possible.
Many of the volunteers were wearing waders and the rest were wet wading. As the day went on, it got pretty hot and wet wading was definitely the best idea. By the time that the last box of eggs had been planted at ten o’clock, the temperature had risen to 95 degrees.
At the end of the process, T. L. Lauerman made a pizza run. The high point of the day was sitting around talking about the project with Dave an Emily. Everyone involved had a deep sense of accomplishment. The true reward will be in the years to come when we will be able to enjoy fishing for wild Bonneville Cutthroat trout.
The White River Chapter of Trout Unlimited has committed to planting the Bonneville Cutthroat trout every year for the next five. If you were unable to participate or did not know about it, make sure to join in next year. This is the most exciting conservation project that I have seen in a long time. I am proud that I was there.
Jeff T. asks: I noted that you bought Lori some Korkers wading boots. How did she like them?
Jeff, she loves them. The fit, light weight and BOA lacing system are all big hits but the winner is the increased traction on bedrock. The Orvis boots are going back!