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Excellent angling in North Arkansas

Excellent angling in North Arkansas


Fish are biting all over as fall fishing frenzy continues

Arkansas Wildlife Editor

White River — Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said Bull Shoals Lake has reached the established goal of 659 feet msl elevation and a change has been seen in the water flow pattern on the river. Consistent high water over the last few months provided some exceptional catches, and consistent low water will do the same. During the past week, however, since power pool was reached, we saw changes in releases throughout the day from low to high, creating challenges for anglers. With the morning water level at a single unit or just above, you'll need to leave the bigger baits in your tackle box and pull out the trusty spoons: gold or copper/bronze Colorados and hammered red-andgold spoons. You might try a Vibrax Blue Fox in the afternoon when the river rises (the pink or chartreuse bells are proving seductive to the rainbows).

Consistent water level patterns will allow the trout to settle down into some normal feeding habits; early morning and early evening may be the best times for easy catches. The trout and the guides are already adjusting to the lower depth but continual, often sudden changes to the water level may require frequent, sometimes sudden changes in bait/fly requirements. Keeps you alert and involved.

“Come on over. Fall colors are popping up all around us and we've been treated to some perfect autumn days.”

Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-453-2424) says most anglers this week have been drift-fishing. The fishing has been “pretty good,” they report, but things are changing while the water goes up and down. The clarity is “really good” as of early afternoon Tuesday. The river level at that time was low, and the Corps of Engineers have turned off the generation regularly. Anglers will find the trout bite good.

John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service said that over the past week they had no measurable rain, cooler temperatures and heavy winds (to include wind advisories).

The lake level at Bull Shoals fell 4.3 feet to rest at 0.1 foot below seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 36.1 feet below the top of flood pool.

Upstream, Table Rock remained steady at 3 feet below seasonal power pool and 17 feet above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake fell 0.6 foot to rest at 1.1 feet below seasonal power pool and 10.7 feet below the top of flood pool. The White River had heavy generation and no wadable water. Norfork Lake fell 2.1 feet to rest at 0.1 foot above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 26.1 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork Dam tailwater had wadable water at night and high water all day.

All of the lakes in the White River system are now below or at power pool. Anglers should expect consistent wadable water.

John says, “The grasshopper bite is upon us. Use a shorter leader and bang the bank. My favorite fly is a western pink lady size 8.

Add a dropper (size 14 pheasant tail nymph) to increase your catch.”

The White has been good.

The hot spot has been the

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More reports came in this week from our fishing sources that brown trout are more active. Texan Brandon Lammers caught and released this very nice brown that was caught in the Beaver Lake tailwater. The fish was over 19 inches in length. Crappie reports are also good in many spots around the state this week. Check out what our reporters have to say by reading this week's Fishing Reports.

Photo courtesy of AGFC FISHING REPORTS (cont.)

catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam.

The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (size 14), zebra midges (black with silver wire and silver bead or red with silver wire and silver bead sizes 16, 18), pheasant tails (size 14), ruby midges (size 18), root beer midges (size 18), pink and cerise San Juan worms (size 10), and sowbugs (size 16). Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective (John s current favorite combination is a cerise San Juan worm with a size eight girdle bug suspended below it).

John also said, “Last week I guided a group of flyfishers from St. Louis.

Steve, Al, Mike and Joe are avid fly-fishers and flytyers. They are all retired and are actively involved with the fly-fishing club in St. Louis. They always attend the Sowbug Roundup and the Fly Fishing Fair and usually stay for a week at each event to get in some fishing. I have known them for a long time and have guided several of them in years past.”

“Since they usually come here for the Sowbug Roundup of the Fly Fishing Fair, the cancellation of these events this year due to the coronavirus has kept them at home. They wanted to come here to do some fishing. They usually float the river in small pontoon boats. Due to the neverending high water, they thought that they would do better by hiring guides and contacted me and asked me to guide them and contact another guide so that they could all fish. I quickly agreed and contacted my fellow guide, Danny Barker, to join me. He accepted. We agreed to guide them for three days and change out the anglers in our boats every day so that all of the anglers got to fish with both of us and they all got to fish with their entire group.”

“On the first day, I had Joe and Al and we fished Rim Shoals. It was a cool start (38 degrees). I had on heavy wool socks, long pants, down jacket, fingerless wool gloves and a warm hat. I had rigged the rods with 4X tippet, large girdle bugs (size 8) below cerise San Juan worms (size 10) and a heavy AAA split shot. The strike indicator was set about 9 feet above the bottom fly.”

“We were drifting through my favorite sections and had caught a few trout when Joe got a strong take.

His rod was severely bent and the fish was hugging the bottom and taking line at will. This was the same rod that I always use with my clients on Dry Run Creek. It is a 5 weight 9 foot TFO rod with an Orvis Battenkill reel. This reel has a stout disc drag. It has landed a lot of big trout.

With 4X tippet and a big fly, I thought we had a good chance to land this trout.”

“This first thing that I did was pull the chain I was dragging. I did not want the trout to get tangled in it.

Joe did a masterful job. He took his time and slowly worked the trout in. I finally got a good look at it and quickly realized that it was a huge brown. He finally got it close enough for me to net it. I breathed a sigh of relief when I lifted the net and the big brown is in it. It was a stout 26-inch male brown trout with a big kype and a large girth.

With Joe being 82 years of age and with over 60 years of fly-fishing, this marked the largest trout he had ever landed.”

“We went to take a photo and he resisted. Al pulled out his camera and we convinced him to pose. It was a stellar moment. Joe showed us how to do it!”

— As of Wednesday, the Army Corps of Engineers reported the lake s elevation at 658.38 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 661.00 feet msl). The reported lake elevation at Table Rock Lake was 913.95 feet msl (normal conservation pool: 917.00 feet msl).

Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock says the Army Corps of Engineers has been slightly slowing the generation and the shad are getting balled up more.

There is baitfish pushing toward the backs of creeks.

“I have been doing better toward the back of creeks, and some of the shad balls are getting bigger but suspended over the old creek channels, he says. The topwater response has slowed drastically. Try spinnerbaits, chatterbaits or square-bill cranks for powerfishing — shallow if there are bushes with deeper water close and shad, if it’s cloudy or stormy.

Target shallow flats close to old creek channels with runoff. As the sun comes up, change tactics and slow down. Focus on pockets, channel swings, transitions with wind. Brushpiles are getting good if there’s shad present. The fish position will change depending on sun, wind, current, clouds, etc. Keep it moving. The jig bite is picking up. Try a half-ounce jig in green pumpkin orange, or green pumpkin blue, or a green pumpkin orange shaky head.”

Lake conditions have the clarity ranging dingy to clear and the surface temperature is 69 degrees.

Lake level is finally normal.

— John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are low and clear. John s favorite fly here 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.

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