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White River Sponsored by
Date 10-Jan-19
Water Condition
Water Temperature  


Conditions : White River - Cotter Trout Dock (870-435-6525) says, “Welcome to 2019! Mild January temperatures see White River fishers in shirt sleeves and sunscreen. Might not stay that warm, so come prepared for a change in the thermometer, but the rainbow trout catch remains steady, the brown bite rising.” Bull Shoals Lake has risen several feet over the last two weeks, so they are experiencing significant releases from the dam. That means you need to be prepared with weighted line with heavier, sinking stickbaits and/or sinkers that keep you close to the bottom (can mean 8 feet at least during heavier releases). Cast nearer the shoreline and let your bait drift back to you with a slightly taut line. High water is a challenge but the catch is usually a higher quality. Rooster Tails, gold blades, orange bodies; the browns are beginning to move back to their home bases and looking for fresh sculpins. “Time to plan the new year's fishing excursions; that might include checking off a bucket list item. We can help.”

John Berry of Berry Brothers Guide Service in Cotter (870-435-2169) said last Friday that during the past week they have had two rain events totaling about 3 inches at Cotter), cold temperatures (to include frost advisories) and heavy winds (to include lake wind advisories). The lake level at Bull Shoals rose 1.1 feet to rest at 0.4 feet above seasonal power pool of 659 feet msl. This is 35.6 feet below the top of flood pool. Upstream, Table Rock rose 2.3 feet to rest at 0.3 feet above seasonal power pool and 15.7 feet below the top of flood pool. Beaver Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 0.4 feet above seasonal power pool and 9.2 feet below the top of flood pool. The White had no wadable water. Norfork Lake rose 0.7 feet to rest at 0.7 feet above seasonal power pool of 553.75 feet msl and 25.5 feet below the top of flood pool. The Norfork had wadable water every day. All of the lakes in the White River System are now above the top of power pool and we will see more high water and little if any wadable water. The White has fished well. The hot spot has been Rim Shoals. They have been some blue-wing olive and some midge hatches (try a size 20 parachute Adams). 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 size 14 bead-head pheasant tail nymph with a size 18 ruby midge suspended below it. Use lead to get your flies down. John adds, “Last weekend my wife, Lori, and I had a guide trip with Brian and his wife, Lee. They were from Monroe, Louisiana. Before the trip, Brian explained that Lee did not do well in the cold. As luck would have it, the weather was forecast with very cold temperatures, no sun and brisk winds. The night before, we talked with Brian to ensure that they had appropriate clothing. We decided to start a bit later than usual in hopes of slightly warmer starting temperatures. It was 27 degrees when we got on the water. “I did everything that I could the day before, when it was warmer. I hooked up my river boat and made sure that it was gassed up and ready to go. I rigged two fly rods with fresh leaders 5X tippet, two nymphs (a ruby midge below a pheasant tail), an AB split shot and a strike indicator. I gathered all of the food that we would need for lunch and packed it into my Yeti. I also put a container of charcoal lighter fluid in my Suburban.
“The next morning I woke up at the usual time (5 a.m.) and showered and shaved. I took great care in choosing my clothing for the day. I put on polypropylene long underwear top and bottom. Over that I wore fleece lined blue jeans and a thick fleece pullover. I wore heavy wool socks and a pair of Bean boots lined with Gore-Tex and Thinsulate. To complete my ensemble, I donned a thick down jacket, fingerless wool gloves and my super warm Elmer Phud hat. It is waterproof, wind proof and insulated. It has a long bill and ear flaps that secure down with a Velcro strap. Lori was similarly dressed except that she wore an extra fleece hat under her Elmer Pfud cap. “I got to the river early and launched my boat so that we could begin fishing immediately. They were into trout immediately. The hot fly was the ruby midge. We literally caught every fish on that fly. We fished all morning and it was cold. We had a few brief periods of sunshine but the wind was unrelenting. “At lunch we pulled over to the ramp and while Lori was putting out the lunch, I started a camp fire in the fire ring. I used sticks and twigs that had dropped from the trees during a recent wind storm. There was plenty of wood around. I used my charcoal lighter fluid to get the fire going quickly. On a cold day a fire can make a big difference. It is nice to warm your hands. We all ate lunch around the fire. Another guide arrived while we were there. His clients asked if they could warm up by the fire. We welcomed them to share the warmth.
“We returned to the river and continued fishing. Midafternoon we took a break and were pleased to note that the fire was still going. We warmed up and returned to the river. We fished till almost dark. When we came off the river, the fire was still going. Our clients warmed by the fire, while I put my boat on the trailer and stowed my gear. We finished the day and survived the cold. The fire helped a lot.”

Reported by: Arkansas F&G


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About: - Fishing Arkansas's White River Keeps Small Arkansas Town

These fish aren't native to Arkansas, but were introduced several decades ago when new dams on some of the state's major rivers wiped out the native bass, bream, catfish and crappie below the dams. Cold water released from the dam made the downstream rivers too chilly for the native fish, so trout were brought in. (more)

  • Brown & Rainbow Trout
  • Cutthroat
  • Brookies
  • Small & Largemouth Bass
  • Sunfish
  • Catfish

Misc Info: -


White River Flows

Bull Shoals Elevation



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