Ever thought about learning to Fly Fish? Come and have a great time and learn a new way of fishing fun! See all the details on our 2017 Spring fly Fishing School here.
THE FISHING REPORT
This fishing report will cover the White and North Fork Rivers year round. In the spring and early summer, which is the peak of the smallmouth bass season, the Buffalo River and Crooked Creek will be covered.
The way I cover the fishing report is to give what works in a general view on this page. This allows you to have a starting place to turn to if what has been listed specifically, doesn’t work when you arrive.
Overview For the Fly Fishers – (spin fishers jump down the page) If you want to rush to see what current flies are working – click here. To learn what our everyday bugs are, read on. Like most tailwaters, sowbugs (a.k.a. cress bugs) and scuds (a.k.a. freshwater shrimp) and midges make up the bulk of the insects our trout feed on. Sowbug patterns in varying shades of grey (to nearly black) and tan in sizes #14 – #20. Scuds also come in a light grey. dark grey and light olive and dead ones are orange, in sizes #14 – #20. Midges are present all year round and become the primary food source in the winter. #18 – #22 zebra midges in black, brown, red, and purple all produce.
In the spring we have a good caddis hatch and once we warm up in the late spring the grasshoppers come out in force and provide additional top water action. After the caddis hatch, we have a sulphur hatch that occurs primarily in the upper section of the White River. These bugs are about a size #14.
Streamers are good at all times, especially on the White River below Crooked Creek. The water has warmed into the 60’s at that distance from the dam and populations of both crayfish and baitfish increase. A good fly for lots of rainbows are wooly buggers (for some reason, pronounced ‘boogers’ in these parts) in olive, rust and white in sizes #6 – #12’s. For low water streamer fishing I use a floating line and a marabou styled Clouser Minnow pattern in size #8 – #12. I’ll be adding photos of these specific flies soon.
Overview For the Spin Fishers – If you want to rush to see what the current lures are working – click here. In low water conditions it pays to use as light as a lure that will still allow you to get your presentation close to the bottom. For this you need to break out your super-ultra light rod and 2lb – 4lb test and throw as small a jig as possible. 1/32 oz – 1/64 oz are the sizes that get bitten well. The best colors have been olive/green and brown/orange. If the fishing is slow, you can sometimes get a bite going while using flashy jigs in pink with silver flash. I tie all my own jigs, so I’m not sure how easy it is to find flashier ones.
When fishing the North Fork River or White River in heavier flows, you will need to increase the weight of your jig so that you keep it close to the bottom. Start with 1/16 oz and keep increasing the weight up to 1/4 oz as current speeds increase. A neat way to maintain the bite on the small jig size is to fish a combination rig. If a heavy jig is necessary to get close to the bottom, tie on the heavier jig, then using a clinch knot attach a 18″ piece of 6lb fluorocarbon to the jig’s hook bend then tie on a 1/64 oz or even smaller jig. A Rapala Countdown in a brown trout color brought this fat brown to the net a couple of days ago. A complete listing of lures can be found at this link, so click here!
Fishing report – Jan. 14, 2015 – The North Fork River and White River – Heavy rainfall over the Christmas holiday added a bunch of water to both Bull Shoals Lake and Lake Norfork. While the White is now running fairly clear the North Fork River is very stained. this color is not from run-off below the dams, but is from the lakes recieving so much run-off that the water coming through the dams during generation is stained. But any situation that has been in effect for a couple of days the fish adapt to and they have to continue to eat, because survival is their goal.
For the spin fishers, lures that have a more pronounced vibration will produce better. Blue Fox VibraMax in 1/4 oz. worked slowly are good. Darker colors are what you want. In deeply stained water Rattle Traps work well, especially for Brown Trout.
For the Fly Fishers the best nymph flies have been egg patterns in red, worm patterns in red, #16 & #18 black midge patterns. Get your drifts ON the bottom and close to structure. Large Browns are beginning to be caught on large streamers. In stained water they seem more confident. Keep your fly very close to the bank and look for current breaks. I prefer flies with a high contrast in darker colors, like black with dark orange accents or black and purple.
Fishing report – June 12, 2015 – The North Fork River and White River – Fly Fishing – Here is what the Corp has been doing in
the way of generation. Mornings have minimum flow, which offers wadeable water levels. Navigation with boats is possible down to the bottom of Long Hole if you put in at the Dam and up to the Ackerman Access if you put in at the confluence of the White River. The caddis hatch continues and you can find photos of the nymphs and dries at this link. On the White River below Rim Shoals caddis patterns are steadily producing even on days the when the bugs are not hatching. The Red’s Landing Access downstream to the Chessman Access was probably the area of the most prolific caddis activity in the last week. Most of the bugs are a size #14 with a very light colored wing and body as shown in the photo to the right.
ing with streamers. especially when riding the crest of a rise in generation has been productive using sink tip lines and streamer in the 3″ – 5″ range. This fly put several 20″ plus Browns in the boat today.
Give me a call at 870 499-3056 and book your trip!
Fishing report – May 27, 2015 – The North Fork River – Fly Fishing- If low water levels are prevalent, fly fishing is the way to go at this time. What’s been working for this guide has been a #16 caddis emerger with an #18 caddis nymph and then dropping a 3rd fly, a purple and white zebra midge. All 3 flies are producing. When they COE runs the 2 generator level water that has been predominant after 1pm, then spin-fishers can be productive with stick baits and jigs in 1/4 oz. . Jigs in brown/orange and olive/yellow marabou have done best. At low water levels, spin fishers can go to super ultra light tackle and throw marabou jigs in tandem, a 1/16 oz tied to a 1/32 oz, using 4 lb fluorocarbon will add to the jig’s action. Call me at 870 499-3056 to book your guided fly fishing or spin fishing trip now!
The White River – Fly Fishing – Flows have been very consistent recently. The White River below Crooked Creek has been off color now for about 6 days. At this time visibility is about 2 feet. The caddis continue to hatch but the dry fly action is not nearly as good as the emerger or nymph versions. The trout are absolutely slamming the emergers and nymphs. It looks more like a hungry bream eating a cricket under a cork! The best producing rig has an attractor of a bright color, like a flourescent pink San Juan worm or blaze orange egg pattern followed with a #16 caddis emerger and then a #16 or #18 caddis nymph pattern. I’ve also been experimenting with a high contrast nymph as an attractor with good success.
Spin Fishers – I honestly haven’t spin fished anyone in the last couple of weeks. The fish are ready to eat caddis fly imitations and all my spin fishing clients have become fly fishers! This type of fly fishing is not at all difficult, especially when practiced from a drifting boat. Come try it!
Fishing report – May 15, 2015 – North Fork River – Fishing is very good at all water levels. White River – Fishing is good above Crooked Creek where the water is clear. The recent rains have put the White River delta (100 plus miles downstream) into flood stage and the COE has backed off generation on both the North Fork and the White. While wadeable water is not readily available, lower flows of 1500 cfs (cubic feet per second) – 3500 cfs are on the available on the White River. Flows on the North Fork are 2000 cfs – 6000 cfs. These flows are great boating water. Run-off from the recent rains have the White River stained below Crooked Creek and the Buffalo River. This section of the river will fish good for brown trout using dark colored streamers or suspending stick baits. from May 15th – 19th at which time it will be running clear again. The brown trout like that murky water! Fly Fishers – go to this link to see what flies have recently worked. Spin Fishers -go to this link to see what spinning lures are working these days.
If you have any questions or would like to talk about going on a guided fly fishing or spin fishing trip contact me at 870 499-3056 or firstname.lastname@example.org .
Fishing Report Update 5/5/15 : The lakes have finally filled enough to reach the top of the power pool and the COE and Swepco will be releasing more water on a regular basis now on both the White and North Fork Rivers. Wade opportunities will be limited but still available. North Fork is more wade accessible right now as the releases are 4 – 5 hours either in the morning or later evening.
Fly Fishing: The caddis hatch in the White River above Cotter is still going on and is best on sunny days. Dry fly in=mitations seem to be more readily accepted by the fish from Wildcat Shoals up to Bull Shoals Dam. However there are now quite a few caddis coming off below the Buffalo River down to Red’s Landing. The majority of these caddis are a #16 -#18 with a dark wing and grey body. An Elk Hair Caddis works well if you’ll darken the wing with a colored marker. The heavier hatches have been late in the evening after a warm day. While the trout are eating them, they are not as keyed up about it as the fish on the upper White were. Dropping a Hares Ear soft hackle below your dry will get you a lot more fish. The cool spring keeps knocking back the grasshopper season, so those aren’t working well yet. While I’ve seen a few White Sulphurs in size #14 – #16 that hatch still seems to be several weeks away. Over on the North Fork things have been pretty consistent. Midges in soft hackles in black, brown, green with a pupa midge below have hammered the fish on certain days. The heavier the midges are coming off the better that combination works. If the midges aren’t active go back to scuds in light grey or light olive in #16 – #20′s . You can float it under a #16 Elk Hair Caddis because a few have been coming off . If you have a boat and a buddy to stay on the motor or oars you can work the heavier generation water for big fish by tossing big streamers. Black and orange rabbit tied in a Clouser Minnow style and fished on a sink tip can get you a nice Brown or Cutthroat.
Buffalo River and Crooked Creek: When water temperatures have reached 58 degrees fishing has been good, when water temps have gotten to 62 degrees, it been great. Our spring has been a cool one and especially the rain has been cold. This has made the waters temps seesaw from the high 40′s to the low 60′s . Obviously as we continue to warm up catching will become more consistent. (As will the pressure on the fish.) If you fish when the temps are below 52 slow down your presentation and work the slow water areas. I have not yet found the Smallies up in the fast water. When it warms up a little more that’s where they’ll be. 3″ curl tail grubs and gitzits have been working for spin fishers. Clousers tied with rabbit strips that provide a lot of movement when stripped slow have worked well for fly fishers.
Spin Fishers: Suspending stickbaits in the 3″ – 6″ size continue to work well when you’re looking for larger fish. Light colors on light days and dark colors on dark days. On days that the bite was sluggish, changing over to 1/8″ oz jigs in white, brown, grey or black has been a successful strategy.
Call me at 870 499-3056 to book your guided fly fishing or spin fishing trip now!
Fishing Report Update 4/21/15: We’ve had a couple of good releases from Bull Shoals and Norfork in the past week and it’s been good to target larger Browns with big streamers and large stick baits. The releases haven’t lasted long and you have to get your boat in the right spot of the flow by using the SWEPCO projections or calling 870 431-5311 and catching the release downstream somewhere.
Fly Fishing: The cream colored Caddis hatch is definitely tapering off, but our more common Caddis in a #16 & #20 with a light brown wing and light green body is coming on. So the dry fly fishing continues.
Spin Fishers: We seem to pick up a few more fish when using slimmer bodied stick baits (not much larger than a #2 pencil) about 3″ long. These are Yozuri lures and are pretty light and must be thrown with ultralight rods.
Fishing Report Update 4/17/15: I spent a couple of days on the lower Buffalo River this week and the Smallmouth fishing is about to get going in earnest. Our first day on the water we had cloudy skies and greenish/clear water and the water temperature was steady at 54 degrees. The guage at St. Joe was at 5.5feet, which is perfect for fly fishing presentations. I thought conditions were near perfect but the fish must have thought it was to cold or something. The first day we averaged catching a couple of fish evey hour, which is far below average for when it is good. The second day the sun came out early in the morning and by 11am our catch rate was averaging 2 fish every 10 minutes. The fish were not in the fast water , but were in the slower currents in areas deeper than 6 feet. Those using spinning gear took fish on 3″ curl tails grubs with an 1/8 oz. jig head and the fly fishers took them on Clouser Minnows and Hada Creek Crawlers using short sink tip lines with a 5 foot leader ending in 8lb. fluorcarbon tippet. We didn’t catch any monsters but we had a 17″ and couple of 16″s and a lot of chunky 12″ – 14″s.
Fishing Report Update 3/8/15: Spring fishing is heating up. The weather has been traditional March weather here in Arkansas, 65 degrees for a couple of days, followed by 27 degrees and flurries.
Fly fishing; North Fork is fishing very well right now and has been for the last 3 weeks. Heavy midge hatches have the trout keyed on them. #20 midge emergers and #20 soft hackles in black or black/white zebra midges and gray or gray /black midges have been been the hot flies. The fish feed on whatever midge is comming off at the moment and many times this will be a bug in a size #32. While some of you may be into that super small stuff, I just wait until a set of size #20′s comes along, it happens frequently enough. On the White river above Cotter you can find very decent to really great Caddis hatches. The bugs coming off right now are size #14 and are light cream in color. While they can be taken with a standard Elk Hair Caddis, I’ve had better results using a fly with a white Antron wing and a cream dubbed body. Their is a second caddis also that is a #18 and has dark gry wing with a light grey body. I good method is to present both dry flies in tandem. This hatch has been good enough to being 20″ Browns to the surface to feed.
The Browns are looking to put weight back on now that have finished spawning and will take streamers well if the river has some generation, but Norfork has had very little generation in the past 3 weeks. It has had one unit run this week for 4 hours in the afternoon though. While you can catch fish using streamers anytime, it is more productive in higher water flows. That holds true for the White River too. Don’t discount the fact that midges do not attract large fish. In low flows a good fish will position himself to be right in the middle of a midge buffet. Look for those softer seam lines with 3 – 6 feet of depth. These fish are very difficult and your presentation will have to be soft or you will put them down.
Spin Fishers; The standard fare of VibraMax spinners in nickel and brass will being in a lot of rainbows. Recently the hot lure for Browns is a Rapala suspending stickbait 5″ – 6″. Different days , different retrieves, expierment with it and let the fish tell you when you’ve got it right.
Fishing Report Update 12/17/14: The water levels have stayed about the same since the last report.
I’ve spent the last 3 days guiding some great guys. The thing they repeated the most often was “I have never caught so many fish in my life.” Out of the 4 of them, 2 were spin fishermen and 2 did both fly and spin. The hot fly was a streamer, a zonker type with rusty orange over black. The best performing lure was a Smithwick Suspending Rougue in Black over Silver. (Remember to crush those barbs, please!) While we unfortunately did not land any really big fish, the guys caught quite a few Browns in the 18″ – 20″ range and rainbows up to 2 1/2 lbs.
The Browns continue their spawn, with a second wave of fish down here in the lower river that seem to be on the move toward the mouth of the North Fork River. I say ‘on the move’ because the Browns caught over the last 3 days were not in their normal haunts. (I know, that’s pretty tough to speculate on.) While our Rainbows aren’t as sucessful at their spawning, many we caught were in their brilliant spawning colors and few even have some hook to their jaw. (That’s kinda’ unusual to see in this river.)
These guys released all of their fish and really handled the fish well. Please remember that the expression ‘like a fish out of water’ carries a rather dire connotation. Handle your fish gently, keep them in the water, lift them out for a quick photo and release them. Admiring a fish to long, just kills fish. The best fish handling tool I’ve come across is a Boga Grip , yes they are expensive little American made tools that cost $120, but they are worth it as a guide. You can get the same basic tool from Berkley in several models for $25 – $75 . You will never drop a fish again! I have the Berkley grips in all of my rental boats.
Fishing Report Update 12/5/14: The water levels have stayed about the same since the last report. Both wade and boat fishing can be done, but each requires vigilance. We really warmed up for a several days that started in the 50′s and went in the 70′s. The bite has been good and is very consistent. The Browns are in spawning mode in the upper river (Bull Shoals Dam down to Cotter) and we have a few that are spawning in the shallow gravel banks down here in the lower White too. (Cotter down to Calico Rock.) The catch & Release area immediately below Bull Shoals Dam is now closed to protect the spawning Browns. During the warm weather our small light grey caddis reappeared for a couple of days. Some fish were keyed on them and readily took Hares Ear soft hackles in #20. The midges have stayed about the same in this section of the river. We took several Browns in this section of the river this past week. All were taken on baitfish imitation streamers. About half of them were carrying eggs and we carefully released them all. They were in the 16″ to 19″ range. Spin fishers continue to do well on small, slender baitfish patterns.
I would have liked to had an opportunity to go after Smallmouth this past week with the warm temperatures and the moderate rainfall. I’ll bet they turned on for a couple of days in both the Buffalo River and Crooked Creek. Both rivers are so low that they will really change day to day with temp changes.
Fishing Report Update 11/28/14: The fishing has been steadily improving since Sept. 1st . If you like to wade then this report brings good news as the river flows of both the North Fork and White Rivers have been low enough on most days to find plenty of wading water. If you like to fish from a boat, the good news is that most of the time the water is sufficient to allow that on the lower portions of the river, like from the Shipps ferry access on down. Most of the White River access points above there , allow for some boating, but you’ll really need to be careful and watch the water levels. The North Fork River is more difficult to fish either wading or with a boat. The Corp is constantly turning generation on or off and even when its on, the flows can change drastically. This makes for very dangerous wading conditions and makes for difficult boat access. You go up the river in the morning while they are generating, then they shut it off and you are pretty much ‘boat stranded’ if you don’t get back down the river before the water levels drop.
The North Fork – Fishing fair to good right now. I always have a hard time saying this river is fishing great becuase it is one of those rivers that can just occasionally get tough. So good is about as high as I ever rate it. The Brown trout spawn is pretty much over. The Browns were up in Dry Run Creek spawning heavily from Oct. 7th- 25th. Those fish are back in the rivers again and most of them seem to be in the North Fork. For Fly guys after Browns, streamers from 1.5″ – 2.5″ that have are streak of light gold and white are working well during periods of generation, the heavier the generation the better. For the Spin Guys, use CD3′s in Black/Gold or Black/Silver. Midge hatches are becoming heavier each day. The real bugs vary in size frrom #30 somethings to as large as #20′s. Flies that are taking them are Black Zebra emergers in #20 – down to as small as you are patient to use. The hot fly the othe day was a #20 with a very sparse CDC wing and a CDC trailing shuck. (I think it was different enough to get their attention and similar enought to get eaten….but who really knows??) A black or gray #20 or #22 tying as a soft hackle has worked very well. You can fish midge dries and get a taker now and again, but the steady action comes 3″ – 18″ below the surface. If you like to fish an indicator, midge larve imitations do nearly as well. If you are a spin fisher, the fact that the fish will be keying on these midges harder as the winter progreeses will lead to some frustration if you target these rising fish. It would be better to work deeper water with lures, or you could always use a ‘spinning bubble’ that will allow you to drift flies.
The White River – Fishing is good to great right now. Lots and lots of 12″ – 14″ Rainbows to be had on either spinning or fly grear. For the spin guys, Blue Fox Vibramax in gold or silver in the 5/16th oz – 1/4 oz sizes are working well. For fly guys the old standby Wooly Bugger in White has been a hot fly of late. The super abundant baitfish population of this summer is still swimming around and the trout are still very keyed on them. This abundant baitfish presence is something that is only in the lower portion of the White, say from Cotter on down and it just gets heavier as you go downstream. The midge hatches are on the increase and the fly guys can target the risers with the same flies I decscribed in the North Fork report. Other flies that are working are the regular scuds and sowbugs, with Ruby Midges doing well on sunny days. Brown trout have been scarce of the lower White for the past month. Those fish have either relocated in the North Fork and have headed upstream to spawn anywhere from Rim Shoals up to Bull Shoals Dam. I have not been guiding much on the White in the past 3 weeks and I’m hearing different reports about what/when/if the Brown trout are spawning up that way.
The Buffalo River & Crooked Creek – Flows have been extremely low since June. Yes, you can catch smallmouth, but I’ve done very little guiding for them. The fish get really spooky in low. clear water and what happens is you hit a hole, catch a couple then have to move on to the next deep section. When I say ‘ move on’ , it means walking and wading because these rivers barely have enough water in them to float a canoe. For most of my clients, this is too much work.
Fishing Report Update 11/13/14: After an extremely busy Oct. things are slowing down some. The fishing has been great. The Browns have begun spawning in earnest in the lower section of the White & the North Fork. Try not to fish over spawning fish, I mean would you want someone pulling you out of bed with your spouse with a hook while you were in the middle of your own “spawning act?”
Fly fishing: If you are wading please don’t step on the clean looking circles of gravel, these are redds, were the eggs lie just under the gravel. Both the White and North Fork have had plenty of wadeable water pretty much on a daily basis since mid-Oct. . The grasshopper bite seems to be over, however bright colored hoppers will still catch a few rainbows and I’ve been using them as a strike indicator to drop scuds, San Juan worms and egg patterns off of. Streamers have been responsible for catching more fish recently. With the lower flows the a lot of the fish have moved off the banks and are sitting in the deepest parts of the river in the swiftest flows. Using sink tip lines on 4wt – 6wt rods and working weighted sculpins patterns right on the bottom we’ve got some nice fish, no pigs, but good solid fish. Staging browns can still be found below the protected waters, please just take a photo and release the fish.
Spin fishers: If you are looking for numbers, bunches & bunches of fish, Rainbows can be taken on in line spinners such as Panther Martins & Blue Foxes, color hasn’t been to important, but brass or gold seem to do a little better along with a medium speed retrieve that allows the lure to run deeper. Blue Fox makes a great medium depth spinner that easily covers 6 – 8 ft depths. Buyoant spoons have been super hot on taking Rainbows, again gold seems to produce a little better. As usual the Browns seem to prefer crankbaits like Rapala Countdowns but with the lower water some of the shallower running baits have been easier to present correctly. Husky suspension baits in the 3″ – 4″ lenghts in dark green or green/brown color combinations have performed the best.
Fishing Report Update 10/23/14: We now have wadeable water on a daily basis somewhere within the river system, which is good news to the fly fishing crowd. Generation on the White varies from 2000 cfs to 4,000 cfs daily, so boating can be accomplished without tearing up your prop……as long as your careful.
The Browns are on the move toward their spawning grounds, and while I have yet to see any on redds, they are staging. I’m really not going to get very specific about how to or where to go about catching these fish when they prepare to spawn because they do become easier to target during this time and they don’t need every boat in the river on top of them. If you spin fish you want some big water generation so you can go after them with big crankbaits. (Remember to smash those barbs down, and if the bait has 3 trebles on it, remove a set. We’re trying to catch these fish and return them to the water healthy, not mangled.) If you fly fish, your looking for low water to sight fish tiny nymphs to these monsters. Both methods work, but fly fishers have the edge because they can work highwater and low water. Fooling these wary fish in low water with lures and spinning gear can be very difficult.
Please remember that even though the law allows one brown trout in excess of 24″ to be taken per day, these fish represent less than 1% of the fish in the entire river system. They have made it to trophy size. Respect them enough to snap a few quick pictures, release them, and have a replica mount made. This past week I watched a 10 lb. female get held out of the water and handled for photos by an angler who had every intention of releasing the fish, but by the time the pictures were over, so was the fish. Fish breathe in the air as well as you breathe underwater. Keep them under and take the photos quick! OK, sermon over.
Fishing Report Update 8/22/14: The summer of 2014 has brought some of the most consistent trout fishing on the lower portion of the White in the 10 years I have guided. I believe this is primarily becuase of the drought conditions that dried up the smaller tributaries and forced the minnows into the White. The the lower summer flows on the White created water temps that were 5 -7 degrees higher than normal and those minnows spawned very effieciently again and again in the White River. So our trout had an abundant food source all summer long and they are still very keyed on baitfish.
The smallmouth have been really tough to catch. They are not hard to find, but getting bit is not easy, so we’ve been throwing everything. 2″ curl tail grubs in clear fluorescent green, pumpkin seed and motor oil colors on a 1/8 jig have worked. A 2″ shad on an 1/8″ jig also got a few fish. Crankbaits have not yielded a single fish. Flys that have produced have been crayfish patterns in #12 – #10′s in gray (molting shell) and dark orange, fish them under and indicator through the deep holes. Small, weighted rabbit strip streamers in white, brown or black fished with a long leader on sink tip lines have also caught some fish. I’m finding the fish deep, once the sun hits the water. If you get out really early or stay really late you’ll find them in the fast runs and riffles.
The high water has allowed us to catch some brown trout recently, nothing real big, around 20″ or so. The technique is to throw a large weighted streamer or crankbait next to softer seams, eddies, and structure along the banks. A lot of guides seem to make a big deal over what lure/fly is presented, but I’m really not seeing that to be the case, as long as the lure is big, like 3″ to 6″ . The key is the presentation. It has to be close and in precisely the right spot so the fish can ambush it easily. We’ve caught these fish with plastics, crankbaits, and large streamers. I do see the streamers catching a few more fish and I believe it is because a fly is quieter when it hits the water, therefore can be cast closer to the target without spooking the fish. This is not blind casting while you slip down the bank, you have to choose your spots to be successful.
Fishing Report Update 8/5/14: We still have seen no rain and the Smallmouth fishing is tough, especially for the better fish. Fly fishers need to downsize to small crawfish patterns or sparsely dressed Clouser’s in size 10 – 8′s, with tippet size in the 4x – 5x range. Spin fishers need to use 4lb test with 2″ curl tail grubs, clear fluorescent green has been working well. Trout fishing in the White and North Fork Rivers continue to be about the same. Catch rates are 10 – 20 per angler per day. 85% of the fishing is done while drifting. Brown trout are tough to come by, especially the larger fish. Clear, cloudless days and lots of vacationing fisherpeople have made them nocturnal. The Cicadas I mentioned last month haven’t really produced but a few fish for me, although a huge 30″ Brown was caught on one by another guide. They are becoming much less prevalent now, as I’m only seeing the occasional bug. Hoppers, beetles and ants are taking a lot more fish.
Fishing Report Update 7/1/14: The Buffalo River and Crooked Creek are super low and super clear. That makes for very spooky Smallies. I’m still pulling a few from the lower portions of the Buffalo, but if you go to Crooked Creek you have to understand that after you catch a fish in a pool, it pretty much spooks all the others and you have to go on to the next pool. The White River has defintely gone into it’s summertime routine. Water levels vascilate greatly. You need to know where on the river to go if you want to find clear water, to avoid the ‘bottom trash’ of floating moss pieces that occur when the Corp ramps up the generators to supply electricity. Clear water is especially important for fly fishers because a fly doesn’t give of much in the way of vibrations via water displacement. The standard fair continues to produce fish. We had a hugh Cicadia hatch this year. Cicadias are terrible at flying and many of them end up in the water. I tied up a few and spent a few hours on the water to see if they produced. All I got was small fish grabbing at the legs, but I know that if you floated one over a big fish he’d take it. I’m finding floating Cicadias in the eddies, so they’re probably on a trout’s menu right now. Just check out the ‘Fishing Pages” for the full list. Never hesitate to call or email if you think I might be able to help.
Fishing Report Update 6/15/14: The extreme high water is subsiding and I’ve been out on 2 trips in the last week. Fish can be found and caught in creek mouths and eddy locations. We have also fished for Smallmouth Bass in both the Buffalo River and Crooked Creek with a lot of sucess. Heavily weighted Clouser Minnows in chartruse/white fished on long leaders with 2x tippet have worked for fly fishermen and spinner baits and suspending rouges and 3″ curl tail grubs work for the spin casters.
Fishing Report Update 5/9/11: Heavy rains are regularly muddying up the river, so spending most of the time fishing the upper portions of the White and the North Fork. Standard stuff is working. The Corp continues to hold water back in the lakes and we re enjoying low water and lots of wading oppourtunities but the river clears slower after the rains. Fishing the creek mouths with large dark colored streamers has paid off with some nice Browns. This is a good technique during heavy rains that have solored water flowing from the creeks into the White River. The Browns hang just downstream of the creek mouth and are looking for a big meal getting flushed down the creek. THE FISHING INFO: The CADDIS hatch is on big time! Right now the fish are hard to catch on spinning gear and lures, but switch over to the fly rod with a #14 Elk Hair Caddis on top and a # 16 Hair’s Ear Wet below and the action increases about 10 fold. The fish that have come on spinning gear have been rainbows on in-line spinners like a Blue Fox in silver, copper, or brass. We’ve also caught some nice browns on Rapala Countdowns and Husky Jerks. Do you like to Smallmouth Bass fish? Now is the time! The smallies are on the bite about 45 days ahead of schedule, I guess due to the extra-mild winter. The best producing bait is once again a 2 1/2″ curl tail grub in pumpkinseed fished on a 1/16 oz to 3/8t oz jig head , depending on current strenght and depth. On a guide trip the other day, I fished 8 different baits, just to see if something else would be more effective…..nope, my 2 fishermen just continued to crank them in on curl tails while I caught one little smallie. Call me and let’s go ASAP.
Fishing Report Update 4/9/14: The warm weather has arrived! We hit 89 degrees yesterday…it was close to a record high. We had a big rain and the river went into spate for a few days. “Spate” …I’ve been waiting to use that word. It seems like its in all the Fly Fishing Mags these days. Like using a 15th century English word for ‘suddenly muddy water’ makes it cool somehow!! It’s muddy and the fish don’t bite and changing the word doesn’t change that. Anyway the river cleared in a couple of days and the fishing was once again great. The caddis are still coming off and the rainbows are super-keyed on them. My spinfishing clients have been a bit stymied because the fish aren’t hitting lures….they are just waiting for the caddis to come off. It has made for some converts to the fly fishing realm. I know these fishing reports look a bit like a broken record that say the fishing great each time, but I did have a really off day after the storm when a high pressure moved in. The water was really low and the wind was blowing 20mph plus and my 2 guys only caught 15 small rainbows in 5 hours. It seems like our fish are more affected by barometric pressure on low water flows. So, fishing is fishing, and even when you come at the peak times, it doesn’t guarantee sucess.
The Smallmouth fishing is red hot right now. I’ve had a trip into the lower Buffalo River and Crooked Creek and we caught lots of fish. Nothing big, but it was a lot of fun. Come soon!
When you’re on the water, take a moment to look around to appreciate the wonderful world God has given us to enjoy.
Fishing Report Update 3/26/14: The great fishing has continued without hardly a hiccup. While there have been some slow periods during the day we’re still catching some nice browns. Yesterday we landed an 18″ and 21″ and lost 2 browns close to the boat that were a little larger. We are not catching as many rainbows probably for 2 reasons. The techniques we are using are for targeting larger browns, and the rainbows are keying pretty heavily on the current hatches. Yesterday we watched as the caddis hatched and had problems getting airborne because in the damp weather their wings were slow to dry. This resulted in seeing the rainbows and a few smaller browns push their noses through the surface and begin slurping down as many as they could. There were simultaneous rises in every 20 square feet of river surface for 200 yards in every direction! For the fly fishers, this was a little different bug than had been observed in previous hatches. It was cream winged with a cream body and was a size 14. In addition to the caddis hatch which lasted for about an hour, there was a slow, all day hatch of #20 Blue Winged Olives that were getting the attention of smaller rainbows. I love this stuff!
Fishing Report Update 3/21/14 : The fishing was nothing short of amazing this past week. Besides catching a lot of fish, on Friday and Saturday alone we boated 7 Browns over 18″ and 2 in the 23″ range and a 20″ Rainbow. This is not just looking at the fish and calling out a number….this is measuring the fish!
The Corp of Engineers have been following the same pattern of water release now for nearly 8 weeks. On the White, we have medium flows on Tuesday – Thursday , dropping water on Friday and then “dead low” water on Sat. – Monday. The North Fork has been off nearly the whole 8 weeks. The lakes have been raised with the recent 2″ plus of rainfall, but so far there hasn’t been a change in generation patterns. Lots of wadeable water all over both rivers for the fly fishers and enough water to float boats down in the lower sections.
As always when we have low water flows catch rates are much better on cloudy days, but the fish haven’t been pressured for months now and the smaller ones certainly haven’t been difficult to catch. The low water conditions do make it more difficult to fool the larger fish. In our section of the river we have enough deep holes and structure for the big browns to stay hidden. When low water conditions prevail these fish tend to be nocturnal.
Fly Fishermen, the caddis hatch has started!! On the days that have reached into the 60′s with sunshine the bugs have come off in droves!! There a 2bugs, one is a #12 with light tan/grey wings and a medium grey body and the other is a #16 with grey wings and grey body. Elk hair caddis patterns work great. Fish an emerger below your dry to catch more fish because the haven’t started going crazy on the surface yet…but they probably will in the next 7 days. Come up soon!!
Fishing Report Update 3/10/14 – The fish are everywhere. For about 6 weeks now the water releases by the Corp of Engineers have been following a pretty tight pattern. We have low to medium flows on Tuesday – Thursday , dropping water on Friday and then “dead low” water on Sat. – Monday.
The catch rates are much better on cloudy days because of the low clear water, but the fish haven’t been pressured for months now and the smaller ones certainly haven’t been difficult to catch. The low water conditions do make it more difficult to fool the larger fish. In our section of the river we have enough deep holes and structure for the big browns to stay hidden. When low water conditions prevail these fish tend to be nocturnal.
The low water days have allowed for a lot of wading while fly fishing. On these days I have fished right out in front of the property and sight fished too small to medium sized Rainbows. You’ll disturb the fish a little when you first wade out, but just stand quietly for a few minutes and you will see them move back in. I’ve been catching them within 25 – 30 feet on #16 Scuds, #12 Egg patterns #10 Crayfish & #10 Wooley Buggers. Bouyant spoons in 1/6 oz. , Countdown Rapalas in size CD2 or CD3 small inline spinners like VibraMax , and small jigs in black have been producing for the spin fishermen. On the sunny days it seems to help to downsize the lure and use muted colors.
The weather has been very mild for the last 2 weeks with only a couple of light frosts and highs reaching into the 60′s regularly. Soon it will be Smallmouth Bass time….I can’t wait!
When you’re on the water, take a moment to look around to appreciate the wonderful world God has given us to enjoy.
Fish Humor ~ “I got a new fly rod and reel for my wife…..best trade I ever made.” Quote from a man who mysteriously passed away shortly after making the above remark.
Fishing Report Update 2/19/14 It’s been a winter of extremes! We are either really cold or it so mild I’m wearing short sleeves. The White is fishing good from Bull Shoals all the way down to Calico Rock right now. On the cold days you’ll see a lot of midge action in the slow flat sections below riffles, the go-to fly is a zebra midge in dark grey or black in sizes #18 – #22. I usually use a tungsten beadhead #18 grey zebra midge and drop a #20 black/white zebra midge off of that. If I see the fish eating just below the surface I’ll use a yarn indicator and keep the flys in the first 12″ of the water column. If you go to the North Fork River just below the Dam you can even use an ”in the film” emerger or a dry midge with success. On the warmer days the midges slow down and I use streamers, simply because I love to feel the strike! I’ve been experimenting with modifying my favorite sculpin pattern with a new product called “Frantic Tails”. I was disappointed in my first results, the tails are anything but frantic! On the other hand I tyed up some new shad patterns using them and they work great for a dead drift shad pattern….because dead fish don’t have frantic tails…I’m not at all sure why they named them frantic tails! I guess if I develop a dead drift sculpin pattern they would be good for that.
I took one of my favorite customers and his wife fishing on Wed. and the wind howled. It was only the second time she had fly fished but she did great, even in the wind! We fished the Buffalo Shoals area and did a little wading and picked up some fish on olive beadhead Wooley Buggers and then drift fished with egg patterns in pink or blaze orange. I think the blaze orange was just a little more productive.
The lakes are about 30% into their conservation pools (meaning they are down about 7 -10 feet from normal levels)and the Corp is generating moderately and wade fishing can be found if you know how to chase the flows up and down the river. On Thursday of this week the Corp shutdown Bull Shoals and it is still off as of this posting and I’ll bet it doesn’t come back on until Monday morning. This makes for very, very low water for the entire river.
You can find a lot of White River specific fishing info within our fishing pages on the website. For Fly fishing info go to www.whiteriverresort.com/fishing-the-white-river-arkansas/fly-fishing-the-white-river and for Spin Fishing info go to www.whiteriverresort.com/fishing-the-white-river-arkansas/spin-fishing-on-the-white-river-in-arkansas . We are supposed to snow tonight and tomorrow and be real cold until Friday, then a pretty weekend. Don’t ever hesitate to call, I love to talk about fishing and will help you in anyway I can. 870 499-3056
You can keep up with what the releases will be via the projected generation schedule though (at the moment, they seem to be following it fairly close) and you can check that at http://www.swpa.gov/generationschedules.aspx. Current generation can be verified at http://www.swl-wc.usace.army.mil/WCDS/Reports/Data/Bulsdam.htm and http://www.swl-wc.usace.army.mil/WCDS/Reports/Data/Norfork.htm. You can also call 870 431-5311. Remember, The information is only as good as the person updating it. The Corp has turned on generators and released water without even updating the phone recording. The “projected scheduled releases” may not be followed. Be aware of your surroundings (water levels) at all times.
Fishing Report Update 2/8/14 I tried to go over and fish the Catch & Release Area below Bull Shoals Dam just after it reopened after being closed for the brown trout spawning season. While I usually stay away from this event (crowds), the weather was horrible and supposed to get worse, so I figured that would keep the crowds away. Well, the weather didn’t disappoint! I left my house in Norfork about 7am and it was 35 degrees, by the time I reached the top of Bull Shoals Dam it was 27 degrees and freezing rain was a 1/4″ thick on the trees and grass and the roads were beginning to ice up. I decided that there would be a good possibility that if I went DOWN the steep hill to the river, I might not make it back UP the steep hill to go home. So, I punted….no fishing. I’m sure there were several monster trout down there just ready to be stupid after not being fished over for 3 months! Since then I’ve been too busy with Resort maintenance and junk that I haven’t made it back over there. I did fish right behind the house here for a couple of hours this last Sunday afternoon. The water was very low and the fish were very uneducated…stockers. They hadn’t even learned that sowbugs and scuds were what they should be eating! But if you stripped a Wooley Bugger through them , they’d fight over it. These fish will learn to identify their most common food sources within a couple of weeks of being released and become a little more selective. However, their constant presence in our rivers does allow everyone to have the enjoyment of catching fish. Which makes for happy outings for folks who aren’t fishing fanatics, and for that reason, I like stockers.
Fishing Report Update 2/1/14
I had a trip with a couple of guys from North Little Rock, AR on Sunday. Saturday had been one of those ‘false spring days’ in the middle of winter. It reached 68 degrees under sunny skies and it seemed like eveyone was on the river….I counted 19 trailers at Red’s Landing Access! Sunday was a little different, a front had blown in overnight and the high was expected to be 40 degrees. We started out at 7:00 am in 36 degrees and guess what? We didn’t have another boat on the river all day on the 5 miles we fished. My guys were new to trout fishing and had decided to make it a spincasting trip, but I bought along a couple of fly rods just in case. The fishing was very good and steady nearly all day. They landed about 60 fish and probalby had another 30 or so on for a short time. We didn’t catch anything big, the best were a couple of 18″ Browns. Just before the trip ended one of the guys hooked a nice rainbow of about 4 lbs. The fish struck very close to the boat and was on for only 3 or 4 seconds but we all got a good look at it. We caught the fish on Rapala Countdowns CD3 , 5′s and 7′s in deep water and used smaller Husky Jerk suspension baits in shallow water. The river was as low as I’ve ever seen it, I even had to push the boat up through one of the riffles to head on upstream, very unusual.
Fishing Report Update 1/20/14 I fished the North Fork River today. For about the last 3 weeks the Corp has released water between 6 am – 9am then turned everything off until the next morning, which makes for a lot of available wade water. It was a great day to be on the river. It was snowing, pretty heavy too, we received about 4″ in 5 hours. It wasn’t to0 cold and the wind didn’t blow much….sounds more like a weather report than a fishing report doesn’t it? Thats what my fishing reports sound like when the fish don’t cooperate! Well, I can tell you what the fish weren’t being caught on because I bet I changed flies 12 times in 3 1/2 hours. I picked up 2 small rainbows on scuds of different colors. The midges were not coming off at all….I saw one on the water all day. It was just one of those days when the fish were in a funk and weren’t eating, at least while I was there. There were even 3 guys fishing the little hole just below the River Ridge handicapped deck and they only had 6 six between them in 6 hours of fishing and they were using PowerBait. That little hole is usually full of cooperative stockers. Well, that why its called ‘fishing’ and not ‘catching’ . Show me a guy who tells you he catches lots of fish everytime he goes on the water, and I’ll show you a guy who needs ‘honesty management’ counseling!
Fishing Report update 1/10/14
The midge fishing is still hot, especially on the areas of the river that have slower currents, or when the damss are not generating much water. The White River releases right now seem to follow this routine. Light flows through the night, with increasing generation between 8am – 11am, then shutting down until late afternoon. the North Fork River has been off most of the time , with generation between 8am – 11am , then off again. So a lot of wading water is out there to enjoy! The fish away from the dams are feeding much heavier on emerging midges, while the fish just below the North Fork River dam are taking dries fairly readily. In areas that are not “flat water” scuds and sowbugs have been more productive than any midge pattern.
The other day I enjoyed standing in ankle deep water of the White River just behind my house, sight fishing to and catching 10″ – 14″ Rainbows with #24 midge emergers in 6″ – 12″ of water, using a little 3 wt.. No they weren’t monster browns, but it isn’t always about catching big fish. The turkeys were flying up to roost in the trees on the bluff across the river, it was cold, a soft rain was falling….and it was really, really quiet…man I love what God has provided us to enjoy!
Fishing Report Update 12/29/13
It is Midge time. I’ve come across quite a few pods of fish in the last week that were actually poking their noses out while sucking midges off the surface. The bugs were silver, with a black stripe down their sides….maybe a little different version of a zebra midge. They would not take until I got down to a size 24 and they seemed to prefer it smaller, but I didn’t have any, but I’m tying some up tonight. I used a #24 with a black thread body and CDC wings and greased the tippet down to within 6″. The smaller fish were actually chasing the midges across the surface and could be enticed into striking by letting the fly drag and skitter on the surface. The better fish were smarter than that and would be posted up in a feeding lane. The really good fish though could be seen sliding back and forth about 2 feet down as they ate the midges. Another good fly was a #20 -#24 Griffiths Gnat that imitates midge clusters.
Wade safely, catch fish, but more than anything else, look around and appreciate the great place God has given us to practice our sport.