Ozark Mountains Fly Fishing Arkansas Fishing Report 08.02.12
Submitted by Berry Brothers Guide ServiceSubmitted on 08/02/2012
During the past week, we have had a few minor rain events, brutally hot temperatures and moderate winds. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell three tenths of a foot to rest at three and five tenths of a foot below power pool of 654.00 feet. This is forty four and five tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake dropped seven tenths of a foot to rest at five feet below power pool and twenty one feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell five tenths of a foot to rest at six and eight tenths of a foot below power pool or sixteen and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had moderate generation with some wadable water. Norfork Lake dropped one foot to rest at five and seven tenths feet below power pool of 552.00 feet or thirty three and seven tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had reliable wadable water most days. All of the lakes in the White River system are well below flood pool.
On the White, we have had little wadable water. The best fishing continues to be on the upper river from the Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals Dam down to Rim Shoals. The Catch and Release section below Bull Shoals dam has been particularly hot. The best time to fish is early morning. The bite is much better and it is more comfortable for the angler. It can get pretty slow in the afternoon. The hot flies were zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead), pheasant tails, copper Johns, pink and cerise San Juan worms, gold ribbed hare’s ears and gray scuds. Rim Shoals also fished well.
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 beadhead 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 almost every day and it has been fishing particularly well. 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 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 clearly 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 that could significantly benefit our fishery in the future.
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 is in full swing and there has been more fishing pressure on the creek. Fish early, late or during the week to escape the crowds. This is the best place to beat the heat. The creek is located in a tight little valley and it is always much cooler there. The trout there are huge and this is absolutely the best place on earth to introduce our youth to trout fishing. In order to achieve success, you should use at least 4X tippet and carry the largest net that you can lay your hands on.
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 in full swing 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.
BY JOHN BERRY
Despite some brutally hot temperatures this past week, I spent several days on the river teaching fly fishing. It was not part of the regular fly fishing classes that my wife, Lori, and I teach several times a year at Arkansas State University Mountain Home but they were teaching guide trips where I spent the day with a single client. The idea is to give intense one on one instruction and concentrate on the new angler’s problem areas.
There was one private class that did not turn out as expected. I was hired for a teaching trip through Blue Ribbon Fly Shop with David, a fireman from Oklahoma City. He had booked the trip several weeks in advance and we traded several emails that outlined his skill level and his desire to improve his ability to read water.
When the day came, I carefully studied the water levels. I wanted to do a wade trip on a smaller stream and the Norfork was the perfect choice. The water was to be off until two o’clock, so I wanted to get an early start. That meant that we would do most of our fishing in the cool of the morning and that we could still get in a full day’s fishing. In addition, they were not running water on the White and that translated to less fishing pressure on the Norfork.
When we arrived, there were already two cars in the parking lot despite the early hour. There was a heavy mist on the water and we could not see far up or down stream. It was quite cool and the weather did not give a clue that the temperature was to climb to over one hundred degrees by early afternoon. I knew how hot it was to get and opted to wet wade. I put on some heavy wool socks, neoprene booties and my studded wading boots but no waders. This would keep my feet warm and protect me from underwater obstacles. I wore long quick drying slacks to protect my legs from the sun and I carried my wading staff in its holster on my wading belt. David chose to wear his waders.
We waded upstream into the Catch and Release to one of my favorite spots. I had not rigged David’s rod at the access because I wanted to figure out where we were going to begin before I decided what we were going to use. I now too the time to add eighteen inches of 6X tippet to the nine foot 5X leader. I added a size twenty black zebra midges with a silver bead and silver wire below a hot fluorescent pink San Juan worm, a bit of lead and a strike indicator. I took a minute to make sure that the barbs were pinched down. David caught a fish on the first cast. It was an omen of things to come. We took five fish on the first six casts. I knew that it was going to be a good day. We stood there and caught trout after trout. When the action slowed a bit we would change flies. Over the course of the day, we landed trout on eight different flies.
As we fished I worked on David’s fishing technique. I showed him how to mend his line more effectively. We concentrated on achieving a perfect drag free drift. We also honed his fish landing skills. When we hooked a fish, I encouraged him to use his reel. Most anglers just strip in trout particularly small ones. This can be a problem when you hook a big fish, where you need the drag of the reel to successfully fight them. Learning to let big fish run is counter intuitive but quite necessary if you hope to land them.
We broke for lunch around noon and walked back to the access for lunch the non-stop action had left us ravenous. I set up lunch on a picnic table in the shade near to river. We were able to catch a breeze coming across the river and we found it quite comfortable. We did not dawdle long as we both wanted to return to the action. On the walk back upstream we discussed that the great fishing has put us off our goal of learning to read water. We decided to wade far upstream and fish our way out. We would concentrate on learning what make a good spot a good spot.
We arrived at the first spot and made our first cast. It produced a good fish. It was like the action downstream had been. We stood there and caught trout after trout. The only difference was that these were a bit bigger and fought more ferociously. David was ecstatic. Time flew by and two hours later I noted that we had not moved. We had gotten caught up in the spectacular fishing and had completely forgotten our original goal.
About 2:45 PM, I looked down and noted that the water was slowly starting to rise. I told David that it was time to go. He was reluctant to leave but I insisted because we had a long way to walk to get back to the access. By the time we got out of the river, it was rising fast and David realized why I had wanted to leave quickly. It was in important lesson on water safety.
We sat and talked about the day, as we watched the water rise. Although we had not accomplished his goal, David felt like he had learned a lot more and the constant action had turned the river into a classroom where he was able to practice what he had learned. If he made an error he learned from it and a few minutes later when he hooked another he was able to avoid repeating that mistake.
Sometimes it is best to change your goal to take advantage of special conditions that can allow you to learn something new and enjoy some great angling at the same time.
Shelley T. asks: Have you been fishing in this heat and have you been doing any good?
Shelley, I have been fishing regularly and have had some great days. There is less pressure than normal and the fish are biting.