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Arkansas Fishing Report

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North Fork River Sponsored by
Date 20-Apr-17
Water Condition
Water Temperature  


Conditions : North Fork River: John Berry at Berry Brothers Guide Service (870-453-2424) said Norfork Lake rose 1.9 feet to rest at 2.9 feet below seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet and 29.1 feet below the top of flood pool. On the Norfork, we had less generation with more wadable water. There has been more wadable water on the Norfork but it has fished a bit better particularly if you can catch the caddis hatch. 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). There have been reliable hatches of small midges (try a size 24 Adams parachute) and caddis (try a size 16 elk hair caddis). The fishing is better in the morning. My favorite rig has been a hare and copper nymph with a ruby midge dropper. Dry Run Creek has been very crowded due to spring break. 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). While you are at the creek you should visit the Norfork National Fish Hatchery. It is fascinating. Be sure and remove your waders before entering to prevent the spread of aquatic diseases.

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 soled wading boots that are easier to clean and are not as likely to harbor didymo.

Berry says, “This year we have had conditions that have been favorable to fish dry flies, particularly the spring caddis hatch, which is our best longest lasting hatch of the year. The trick, as always, is to be on stream when the insects are coming off. My favorite way to fly-fish for trout is to fish dry flies. Therefore, I went to the Norfork the other day in search of the caddis hatch.

My wife, Lori, accompanied me as did her sister, Terri, and her husband, Larry. Terri and Larry are avid fly fishers and frequent guests at our home, in Cotter. We began our Sunday fishing trip with a hearty breakfast at the White Sands Restaurant. As my late brother, Dan, used to say, “You need a couple of sausage gravy biscuits to keep your feet in the gravel”. Conditions were near perfect. It was sunny with a bit of wind and a high temperature in the low seventies. The water was at minimum flow and the prediction was for no generation for the entire day. To our surprise, the Ackerman Access was not very crowded. We had expected a much larger crowd on a day this near perfect. We waded up stream into the catch-and-release section. There were no caddis coming off. I was determined to fish dry flies. I had my favorite fly rod, a 30-year-old Sage light Line 9-foot, 4-weight that had originally belonged to Dan. I had rigged it with a 7½ leader and a 5-foot 5X tippet with a size 16 olive elk hair caddis with an application of fly floatant. Though there was no active hatch, I figured that the trout would be looking up. Therefore I began casting not at rising trout, but at spots where I expected them to be. After three casts, I was rewarded, with a nice fat 17-inch rainbow. A few more casts and I landed an even fatter 10-inch rainbow. I was on a roll. Lori noticed my success and joined in on fishing dries. She didn’t have the same fly as I was fishing, so I gave her one. She had quick success. About that time Terri and Larry arrived. They had been fishing downstream with limited success. I showed them, how I was fishing, and they quickly rigged their rods accordingly. I gave them my spot and I went looking for new water to fish. Larry was into a good trout as I walked out. I found a likely spot and began fishing in earnest. I hooked a nice 14-inch rainbow and as I was bringing it in a Great Blue Heron decided that it looked like lunch. I gave him a shout and he gave up the chase. I caught several more trout there. Meanwhile Lori was having success nearby. About this time, Larry hit a big fish. It was a huge rainbow that was fat and in excess of 24 inches long. The fight went on for quite a while. A drift boat that was floating through dropped anchor upstream so that it would not interfere with his fight. As luck would have it, the fish slipped the hook at Larry’s feet. He was stoked over the trout but disappointed for not landing it. I have been there before!

Success had eluded Terri. But her time had come. She rerigged to my Green Butt soft hackle and was immediately into trout. Lori and I had caught enough and we were ready to go home. Terri and Larry stayed on-stream for a while, so that Terri could catch up with our success. The trout cooperated.

You don’t always have to have an active hatch to fish dry flies. Sometimes the trout are looking up and will fall for a well presented fly.

Reported by: Arkansas F&G


Hatches: Patterns Lures & Spinners

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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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