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North Fork River Sponsored by
Date 13-Dec-18
Water Condition
Water Temperature  


Conditions : Norfork Tailwaters: John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last weekend that over the previous week Norfork Lake rose 0.1 feet to rest at 0.8 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 27 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. Seasonal power pool has been reset for the lakes in the White River system. All of the lakes in the White River System are now well below the top of power pool. The Norfork has fished well. There have been some nice midge and sporadic caddis hatches that have provided some limited top-water action. Navigate this stream with caution as there has been major gravel recruitment at the bottom of Mill Pond and the dock hole over the past year. 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. Double-fly nymph rigs have been very effective. Try a small bead-headed nymph (zebra midge, Copper John or pheasant tail) suspended 18 inches below a brightly colored San Juan worm (hot fluorescent pink or cerise size 10). The fishing is better in the morning. John’s favorite rig has been a red fox squirrel nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek is fishing much better. The hot flies have been sowbugs (size 14), Y2Ks (size 12) and various colored San Juan worms (worm brown, red, hot fluorescent pink and cerise size 10). 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 soles that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo. John also said, “I took a fall when I was fishing on the Norfork recently. I spent a lot of time thinking about it. I tend to fish by myself quite a bit and a fall could get serious. I am not particularly graceful, nor am I particularly clumsy. I wanted to know what happened so that I could possibly prevent it from happening. I know that if you wade-fish there, there will always be an occasional fall into the water. The trick is to keep these incidents to a minimum.

“I returned to the Norfork a week later to fish and determine what had happened to cause me to fall. Was it just a coincidence, or could I make changes to limit such situations in the future. The day was very similar to the previous week. It was cold. The high was to be in the mid-40s with overcast skies and 10-15 mph mile winds. I dressed the same way I had the previous week. The combination of wool and fleece had kept me warm even when I got wet. “One thing that I did different was to wear my polarized prescription bifocal sunglasses. The week before, I did not wear them because it was to be overcast and I did not feel that the sunglasses would help me. Yet, when I was wading, I had trouble seeing the bottom even in shallow water. The problem was that there is sun glare even on overcast days. With my polarized sunglasses on, I could see the bottom even on a seriously overcast day. I found the wading to be much easier, when I could see where I was going. “I had arrived at about the same time, and as before I had the place to myself. I walked upstream to the spot where I had fallen the week before. With the polarized sunglasses I could clearly see the bottom. I noted that it was bedrock, which is pretty slick and can be difficult to walk on. My memory of this area is different from what I saw. I have been wading through this section of river for decades and remember the river bottom to be gravel, which is very easy to wade. The gravel had been washed out to reveal bedrock. I was not aware of this change the previous week. It was an important lesson to me that the river is constantly changing. Even when we go into spots that we are familiar with, we need to pay attention to subtle changes to the river.

“As I waded through that section of bedrock, I pulled out and used my folding wading staff. Not using it was an error that I had made on my previous trip. I carry it to help me travel through perilous water. Why did I choose not to use it? I don’t know; maybe I was in a hurry. I learned my lesson. “On reflection, I learned three things: Always wear my polarized sunglasses (even on overcast days), be on the lookout for constantly changing conditions, and use my wading staff.”

Reported by: Arkansas F&G


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About: - Tailwaters of Lake Norfork Dam, the North Fork meanders for a mere 5-miles before joining the White River. Expert anglers and inexperienced fishermen alike enjoy exciting, year-round fishing adventures on this perfect cool water trout stream. Cool waters from the Norfork Dam flow into this picturesque five-mile long mountain river creating a perfect world-class trout stream. The North Fork River remains at 47 to 58 degrees during all seasons providing an ideal year-round habitat for Rainbow, Cutthroat, German Brown and Brook. (map and more on the North Fork River)
  • Rainbow
  • Cutthroat
  • German Brown
  • Brook

Misc Info: - North Fork River, from 100 yards below Norfork Dam to White River: Open to fishing with rod or pole only. Anglers may use no more than one fishing rod or pole and must attend it at all times. A trout permit is required. Chains or other objects capable of destroying aquatic vegetation may not be dragged.


Norfork River Flow


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