Harrison, AR United States
Crooked Creek Fishing Report 08.19.11
Submitted by Berry Brothers Guide ServiceSubmitted on 08/19/2011
During the past week, we have had several minor rain events and generally cooler temperatures. The lake level at Bull Shoals Dam fell three and six tenths feet to rest at twenty one and four tenths feet above power pool of 654.00 feet. This is nineteen and six tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock Lake fell one tenth of a foot to rest at eight tenths of a foot above power pool or fifteen and two tenths feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell three tenths of a foot to rest at three and three tenths feet above power pool or six and three tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the White, we have had fairly heavy generation around the clock. There has been no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell two and three tenths of a foot to rest at eleven and six tenths feet above power pool of 552.00 feet or sixteen and four tenths feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we have had a classic summer generation schedule with light or no generation at night and high generation during times of peak power demand. There has been reliable wadable water early every morning. The rate of drop on the lakes has increased.
The best place to fish was the section from Rim Shoals to Buffalo City. On low water the hot flies were pink San Juan worms with copper Johns and red zebra midges in size fourteen or sixteen as droppers. The flows have been fairly constant with little fluctuation all day. The key to fishing the high flows has been to fish long leader/tippet combinations (twelve feet or longer), very heavy weight (AAA split shot) and a large strike indicator set at the top of the leader.
Another hot spot has been Wildcat Shoals. The even flows it has received have been perfect for drifting. Various nymphs like pheasant tails, copper Johns and red zebra midges have accounted for a lot of fish. The most effective fly on the higher flows is a hot fluorescent pink or cerise San Juan worm.
Grasshopper season is upon us. They provide us with some of the best and most reliable dry fly fishing of the year. These are large tempting morsels that can tempt big fish. You need a nine foot 2X leader and a stiff rod (a six weight would be perfect). The trick is to bang the bank and imitate the action of a grasshopper that has fallen into the water and is struggling. Many takes occur when the fly hits the water. The most effective patterns are Daves hoppers or big western foam hoppers (both in tan). To increase your catch, use a small nymph as a dropper. Effective nymphs would be pheasant tails or copper Johns.
Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River are low and gin clear. They are so low you may have to drag your boat through certain sections. The water temperature is right on and the small mouth action has been red hot! Several anglers have reported success with Clouser minnows and crawfish patterns. 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 action has picked up on the Norfork. With no wadable water on the White, the Norfork has continued to receive substantially more pressure this past week. The fishing in the morning on low water has been surprisingly good. Arrive early to stake a choice spot and always be on the lookout for rising water. The top flies have been green butt and partridge and orange soft hackles. Dans turkey tail emerger has also accounted for a lot of fish. On high water, the best technique has been to drift brightly colored San Juan worms (red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise) and egg patterns (pink and orange). Some anglers have reported success banging the bank with hopper patterns.
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). The creek is located in a tight little valley and is always a bit cooler. This is always a great place to beat the heat. Remember that there is a lot of tree cover and there is precious little room to cast. The best technique is to high stick nymphs with a very short line. The creek is so small you do not have to cast far. Do not forget your camera. Use a flash! The tree cover is so thick you need it to capture the picture of a life time.
The water level on the Spring River is lower but stained. This is a great place to wade fish. However, there are many canoeists this time of year, particularly on the weekends. If you wish to escape them, fish the upper section near the Lassiter Access. 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 the Dam Three Access. 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 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.
TOP WATER ACTION ON DRY RUN CREEK
BY JOHN BERRY
Last Thursday I was able to do one of my favorite things, guide on Dry Run Creek. I had a delightful family from Missouri. The two sons Ben (13 years old) and Graham (11 years old) were excited about the prospect. They both had a lot of experience fly fishing the farm pond at home for bass and bream. Dad was very interested in seeing his boys do well and manned the landing net for most of the day. Mom was the official photographer and was kept pretty busy recording all of the fish caught.
I started the day by putting on my waders and carefully rigging the boys rods. As is my custom when guiding two anglers, I used different flies for each one. Ben got a sowbug (a good imitation of the major food source on the creek), a bit of lead and a strike indicator on his rod. I used 4X tippet and carefully bent down the barb on the fly. Graham got a cerise San Juan worm rigged the same way except that the worm was tied on a factory barbless hook. I prefer factory barbless hooks but I am unable to find them for all of the different flies that I tie.
We walked far from the parking lot to a spot where I had experienced a lot of success on previous trips. When you are guiding two anglers on wade fishing trips you have to find a couple of productive spots that are reasonably close together. Both anglers have to catch plenty of trout and you dont want to wear yourself running from one spot to another.
I put Ben in one location with a fast run and he was into trout immediately. He caught one trout after another. I put Graham in a spot where a strong current ran into a pool. It is usually very productive and had surrendered some incredibly large trout in the past. He hooked a big bow immediately but lost it due to an equipment malfunction. The braided loop on the end of his fly line had not been properly attached the night before and came off taking the leader, strike indicator, lead and San Juan worm with it. I took a minute to put on a fresh braided loop.
Meanwhile, Mom saw the strike indicator by a large rock near the bank. She reached down and picked it up to realize that the large rainbow was still attached. It took a strong run for the far bank breaking the tippet and stealing my San Juan worm, in the process. We did recover the leader. I was able to quickly attach it and tie on a fresh tippet and fly. Since Ben had been doing so well on the sowbug I opted on one for Graham. He continued fishing and picked up some nice trout but was not catching nearly as many as Ben. We decided to have the guys switch spots to see if we could even out the catch rates.
We moved Graham over to the fast run that Ben had been fishing. I worked with him for a while until he got into the rhythm of the water. In no time he was landing trout after trout including some fine specimens. Ben had moved into Grahams previous location and landed a few fish. The action was nothing like he had been experiencing before.
I worked with him for a while and observed that there were several trout feeding on the top of the water column. I saw plenty of trout feeding but could not see any insects hatching. This means that they were either keying in on tiny midges or some small emergers. Either case would require a very small fly and tippet. This would make it more difficult for my young clients to land these big trout. I thought that if these fish were looking up for their food they might be interested in a grasshopper. Why mess around with small aquatic insects when you could have a nice big tasty terrestrial? In addition, with a hopper, we would be using a big hook and a larger tippet. This would help us land larger trout.
I took Bens rod and stripped off the sowbug, lead and strike indicator. I trimmed the tippet/leader combination back to about eight feet so that Ben could easily turn over the big fly when he cast it. I tied on a size eight Daves hopper, carefully applied some fly floatant and pinched down the barb. I gave him a quick suggestion. Most anglers try to set the hook too soon when using a dry fly. The sight of a rising trout usually kicks in the adrenalin. I recommending that he let the trout close its mouth and go below the surface before striking.
He began casting to risers on the far side of the creek. I was fairly amazed at how well he was casting. He struck a little too soon on the first take. Two casts later he was right on the money and hooked and landed a fat twenty inch rainbow. He continued fishing the hopper and caught several nice trout including an extraordinarily fine twenty two inch cutthroat.
With Ben catching some good trout, I turned my attention back to Graham. He was catching plenty of fish but most were smallish. I went over and stood beside him to coach him a bit. He was getting some good drifts. I decided to try some different flies. We tied on several different colors of San Juan worms but to little effect. I returned to the sowbug and on the third cast we hit a good fish. I got a good look at him and immediately saw that it was a big brown. I had been using my short handled wading net and quickly realized that it wasnt big enough. I waded over to where Mom, Dad and Ben had gathered to watch Graham fight the big trout. I grabbed my boat net and returned to land the incredibly fat twenty four inch brown.
This was a great way to end the day. We said our good byes. The guys said that it was the best fishing they had ever seen. I knew that they were right.
Mike B. asks: John do you have a prediction for when we can expect some lower water?
Mike, Bull Shoals is dropping a half a foot a day and is about twenty one and a half feet above power pool. That means it could reach power pool in forty three days. There is wadable water on the Norfork every day.