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Rain in the forecast, but fish are still biting plenty

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Check out the news from North and Central Arkansas hot spots this week

Arkansas Wildlife

Bull Shoals – Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) said, “We are experiencing very high water levels on the White River, the tailwater of Bull Shoals Dam, in north-central Arkansas. The three dammed lakes in our watershed (four when you include Norfork Lake) are at maximum capacity (at or very near the prescribed flood pool amount) and the Army Corps of Engineers has begun to reduce lake levels, releasing water through standard means and via the flood gates, over the spillways. Current releases are 27,000-plus cfs. To date, we haven't heard of any adverse effects to homes, businesses or access points downstream from Bull Shoals Dam.

“The guides on our waterways have already adjusted to the high water, the trout will settle down in a day or two, and fishing continues.

Bank fishers should keep a good supply of worms to thread up the shank of a No. 6 bronze Aberdeen hook and a few quarterounce spoons handy (redgold or copper colored works best on these sunny days). Be prepared to cast and retrieve quickly. If possible keep your bait near the banks – the trout love to dine on the fresh food supply on a grassy bank or lawn. We suggest that boating be confined to the professionals while the water is this swift. The guides have successfully met and exceeded daily keep levels for their customers.

Browns are surprising us by biting at worms, but mostly smaller sculpins and the elusive red-fin minnow.

Be safe. Keep your life jacket on while on a boat.

See you at the river.”

White River – News from Sportsman’s White River Resort (870-4532424) is that the spillways are open. Lots of rainbows were caught the past week, and there was a lot of water. Water clarity overall is fair with a lot of moss, they say. Overall fishing for trout was good.

John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last week they had several rain events (combined for a bit over 2 inches), warmer temperatures and heavy winds. “This is the same thing that I wrote last week,” he said. The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 5.2 feet to rest at 33.1 feet above seasonal power pool of 662 feet msl. This is 0.1 foot above the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 5.2 feet to rest at 14.2 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.1 of a foot above the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 1.2 feet to rest at 8.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 0.1 foot below the top of flood pool. The White had moderate generation and limited wadable water.

Norfork Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 22.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 0.7 foot below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and no wadable water. The lakes of the White River system are over or very near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come.

The White has fished well.

The hot spot has been the catch-and-release section below Bull Shoals Dam.

The hot flies were olive Woolly Buggers (sizes 8, 10), Y2Ks (sizes 14, 12), prince nymphs (sizes 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 size 14 pheasant tail with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it).

Bull Shoals Lake – Del Colvin at Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock said fishing has been about the same for the past two weeks. The lake is

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Photo courtesy of AGFC FISHING REPORTS(cont.)

dirty. Bull Shoals is 31 feet high as of midafternoon Tuesday. Bream are fair; fish around the bluffs for the best activity with worms or crickets. A random crappie or two can be caught, Del says; minnows or jigs will work. Black bass are good on topwater baits such as Zara Spooks, as well as poppers. No reports on catfish, white bass or walleye. Visit Del’s YouTube page (Bull Shoals Lake Boat Dock) for video with more information and tips on fishing Bull Shoals Lake.

– Tom Reynolds of STR Outfitters said, “Hoo-ray the Norfork Lake threadfin shad have finally started their spawn and the stripers and hybrids are feeding heavy. The bass are also feeding and with this week's upcoming weather pattern we should see an explosion of fish activity. Get your swimbaits and Zara Spooks ready for a workout.

“We have been fishing from Crystal Cove to Big Creek and finding and catching limits. The fish are relating to bluffs and points near the bluffs and also big flats that drop off into the channel. If the south wind has been pounding a north point for a day or so, make sure you fish it. The fish are chasing the shad that has been blown into the point. With the high water the bait is now in the brush covered by water, the shad must spawn on objects. The fish will be feeding on the shad, so make sure you work the shoreline with your baits.

Good places to look are Cranfield Island and points heading north, Crystal Cove, Diamond Bay, and the points heading south like Thumb Point. The walleye are biting on bottom bouncers with nightcrawlers. They are relating to the old shoreline in 1824 feet off the points. The crappie are still deep and they are being caught trolling flicker shad over deep brushpiles.

– John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said Norfork Lake rose 0.3 foot to rest at 22.5 feet above seasonal power pool of 556.75 feet msl and 0.7 foot below the top of flood pool. The Norfork tailwater had moderate flows and no wadable water. The lakes of the White River system are over or very near the top of flood pool. Expect heavy generation and no wadable water for some to come. The Norfork is fishing better. Navigate this stream with caution as things have changed a bit during the recent flooding.

There has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole. The most productive flies have been small midge patterns (sizes 18, 20, 22) like ruby midges, root beer midges, zebra midges (black or red with silver wire and silver bead) and soft hackles (sizes 14, 16) like the Green Butt.

Egg patterns have also been productive. Doublefly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small ruby midge (size 18) suspended 18 inches below a red fox squirrel and copper. The fishing is better in the morning.

Dry Run Creek is fishing very well. With the coronavirus pandemic there is little pressure. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12), various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10) and mop flies.

Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said the Buffalo National River and Crooked Creek are high and off-color. John’s favorite fly on these waters is a Clouser minnow.

Carefully check the water level before entering Crooked Creek or the Buffalo River. There are no dams on these streams.

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