Tag Archive: White River


18, 000 cfs generation is not every bodies cup of tea.
When it comes to fishing the White River, granted fishing high, fast water is not quite the same as the lower flows. We fish for risers taking caddis, mayfly and midges.
Nevertheless it’s what you have to deal with when the dates are booked, which was the case when my regulars- Ed, Jim, Bob, Ted and Saxon arriving for their regular fall fishing trips with me.

That is not to say the fishing is worthless, far from it.
What it requires is intimate knowledge of the river so far as where the fish will likely be found and given the zone you are fishing; what is going to be your best option.

Some days it may be a large dry that induces a trophy Brown to show up, maybe a streamer at times, or deep water nymph tactics, not to mention traditional style wet fly, which for myself is always a good bet.

Contrary to belief neither is fishing rigs with large gaudy flies or heavy weight the only game in town. 
Each section of the river may require a different approach. 
Granted a good choice is to fish close to banks, but not always. Mid-stream shallows over gravel bars and rock structure will likely hold fish, as will slow water run offs from fast water seams.
Fishing over grass and moss beds may also be productive at times.
Fact is fish will tend to move around during high water flows.
Even better, high water flows are good for the Rainbows to add some weight.

Generally at this time of the year the Browns have packed on weight in readiness for the spawn season and may not be as aggressive as they were earlier in the year.
Often as not the females are heavy with eggs and are less likely to have interest in larger food sources. It is at such times that smaller flies will better the larger patterns, which was certainly the case for my fisherman.
Racking up between them some impressive numbers of Bows, Browns and Cutthroats, some of which are included in the pictures shown.

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By the way two of the larger Browns were caught fishing DW style wet fly tactics, size 12 hook flies !!!

Davy

(Posted by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle)

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Jim Gaston, a man who was ready with a smile every time you saw him. I will miss Jim driving by the farm an honking, arm waving as he passed by. TBird

I first met Jim Gaston through working with the U. S. Fisheries Division and the development of the Friends of the Norfork Fish Hatchery.

His compassion and lifelong advocacy for the White River and is conservation was contagious.

We became friends through our mutual interest of the rivers and fisheries. I treasure the memories and accomplishments that we were able to share.

Jim leaves a tremendous trail of testament to his never-ending push for public knowledge of river conservation.

Rest in peace, my friend.
Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle

(For more on Jim Gaston and his accomplishments click on the link below)

http://www.ktlo.com/Jim-Gaston–champion-of-tourism–outdoors-legend-d/21741047

Posted July 13th, 2015

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Bob Irish with a 21.5 inch fish. Guided by Davy Wotton May 2015

After spending a wet fly fly fishing school in Connecticut at the Housatonic Outfitters Fly Shop, both Brian and Bob traveled from NY to spend two days fishing with the wet fly master.

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Brian Walencik with his first 20 incher at Bull Shoals Dam, guided by Davy Wotton

High water generations are generally not conducive to ideal conditions for wet fly fishing, high water speeds do tend to force the fish either tight to the river bed or very close to the shorelines.
Either way experience prevails at the end of the day.

Fishing combinations of dry or intermediate lines with various combinations of flies resulted in many fine fish to the net, including these three 20 inch fine fat Bows at Bull Shoals Dam, all took a fly named the Dunkeld, it being a very old fly pattern of Scottish origin.

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The Dunkeld proves itself on high water at Bull Shoals Dam and in high water flows.

(Posted by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle May 9th, 2015)

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will begin a spillway release from the Norfork Dam this afternoon at 4.
    Channel capacity in the White River currently allows for both hydropower units at Norfork to run around the clock to lower the lake. However, the Corps is making spillway releases while one of the hydropower units is offline for annual maintenance.
    Water will be released at 3,000 cubic feet per second through the turbine generator on Unit 1, and tainter gates two through six will be open one foot, releasing another 3,000 cubic feet per second.
    The Corps says the total release will be roughly equivalent to what both units at full power could pass, or 6,000 cubic feet per second.
    Future rainfall may cause the Corps to adjust releases at Norfork Lake.
    Lake elevation forecasts can be found at the Little Rock District water management website:http://www.swl-wc.usace.army.mil/pages/reports/remote/lakfcst.htm.
    The Corps urges caution while boating and fishing below Norfork Dam while the water releases are in effect. Generation, lake elevation and river levels are available by calling (870) 431-5311. Fore information, contact the Mountain Home Project Office at 425-2700.”

 

 

A recent post on facebook raised the question,, that we should see further regulations to protect trophy Rainbow trout.

In answer to that my first question would be, what is considered a trophy Bow for the White River system ?

 

Historically the rivers did produce many bows in excess of 5 to 10lbs and a good number over that, that begs the question as to why. The answer is very simple, long term survival, which is not the casetoday for many reasons such as.

Bear also in mind back then there were no trophy zones.

 

1. In days past fishing pressure was not what it is now. The local population was not what is now, increasing fishing pressure.

2. Access.. Once again way more boat ramps compared to the past .

3. Today compared to the past, more or less personal boat craft can access easily any part of the river. In the past there was not the number of trout docks now present, which also allow for increased rent and guide activity.

4. Stocking, compared to what is stocked now not even close, which also begs the question that potentially there was more food sources available for a less number of fish with less fishing pressure.

5. Management policy at this time offers little advantage for Rainbow trout to survive other than designated trophy zones, assuming that there is no illegal fishing activity, which we know there is.

6. Mortality..By percentage of angling activity mortality for rainbow trout is high. Stock fish have little chance for long term survival at best, harvested or otherwise such as predation from other species.

7. Water.. Low water levels are generally not conducive to long term rainbow trout survival. We know that during high-water years rainbow trout growth is enhanced mainly due to higher percentages of long-term

   survival. Downside is once lower levels are the lower norm those fish are caught, the gains are lost.

8. Min flow has many advantages,  also negatives. Min flow now allows more or less boat access for the entire river. In the days of zero generations boat navigation was somewhat limited, that to some extent allowing fish to survive in low fishing pressure zones, such as Bull Shoals dam, Rim Shoals and the Norfork river in the designated catch and release zones.

9. Brown trout.. We know that the 24in size limited has potentially increased the number of larger browns, could same apply for Rainbow trout. Under current regulations l doubt it for many reasons.Outside of designated trophy zones.

 

Survival is the key, no argument about that. There are only 3 effective measures that can be introduced.

1. Catch and release with restricted methods of fishing such as we have in trophy zones.

2. Slot limits in restricted zones, with restricted methods of fishing,,no bait and barbless hooks.

3. Use only of barbless hooks in restricted zones. Interesting is the some States do not enforce this regulation, it considered not practical to enforce. In the case of fly fisherman a high percentage do use barbless hooks. (Studies show that there is no significant increase in mortality by fly fishing activity.)

 

That said all the above requires angler compliance and law enforcement.

Further under current stocking policy for Rainbow trout we might see a situation that fish numbers will exceed available food sources in new designated no kill or slot limit zones.

 

As of now other than Bull Shoals Dam trophy zone,Norfork river and Dry Run creek,  the odds of catching Rainbow trout in excess of 16ins are very low indeed, unless they were fish stocked above that weight, which at times they are when the hatcheries need to reduce the numbers larger fish.

 

By today’s standards a 20 ins Brown is not that special for the White River system, by far a 20 ins Rainbow is a much more worth while trophy in my opinion as are 20 ins Cutthroat trout, both of which are few and far between.

Odds are if you catch 20 browns, 1 will be 20 in, you might catch a 1000 bows to catch one above 20 inches.

 

Do l have a answer,,, I doubt we will see further catch and release zones for the White river,  would slot limits work, possibly, but where would that be possible ?  My only thought here is the section below Rim Shoals to the confluence of Crooked creek or the lower section of Shoestring shoals.

Either way it is not a easy situation to address.

High water generations are a short term answer, long term that’s not going to happen.

 

 

 

Davy Wotton
Feb 2015

Posted by Teresa “TBird” VanWinkle

Hello Everyone,

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I just want to let you all know that the COE has scheduled time for repairs to be made to the siphon at Norfork next week.  As you all may recall from previous e-mails I sent, the repairs that were made back in June/July were temporary and were meant to last until a replacement for the broken part was received by the manufacturer.  The repair scheduled for next week is to make those repairs.  The COE was great in working with us in that they waited to make the repairs until the poor DO season and peak spawning times had past.  I really appreciated their willingness to wait until now. 

 

Unfortunately, the planned outage started a little earlier than expected.  I was notified Wednesday that the Norfork siphon failed on Tuesday night.  A sensor that tells the computer whether the siphon is full or not went bad and the siphon equipment will not work without that sensor.  Generation started at 3 a.m. Wednesday, so minimum flow was not made for a period of less than an hour.  It did not even register in the COE’s tailwater data. The part to repair the sensor will take a few days to arrive.  However, since there was already a planned outage for next week to start fixing the valve issue, they went ahead and started running the speed-no-load option for minimum flow.  That will continue for a few weeks as the COE works on fixing the valve. 

 

Also, there was a fire in the Bull Shoals powerhouseyesterday morning due to a circuit breaker exploding.  All generation was halted, including that which operates minimum flow at Bull Shoals.  However, they expedited the process and units 1-4 were back in operation by afternoon.  If not generating for power, minimum flow should be running.  I do not think you will have noticed a period of less than minimum flow for more than a few hours yesterday. 

 

Please let me know if you have any questions! I’ll keep you all posted on the status of siphon repairs at Norfork.

Thanks, Christy

 

 

Christy Graham

Trout Biologist Supervisor

E-mail: Christy.Graham@agfc.ar.gov | P: (870) 424-5924 | M:(870) 404-0477

 

Arkansas Game and Fish Commission

201 East 5th St. | Mountain Home, AR | 72653

O: (877) 425-7577 | F: (870) 425-6596

http://www.agfc.com

 

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Davy Wotton and long time friend, Kelly Galloup at Dally's Ozark Fly Fishers annual Streamer Love Fest last night in Cotter, Arkansas. (Photo courtesy of TBird.)

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Selfie op here- TBird and Kelly Galloup at Dally's Streamer Love Fest. TBird photo.

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Streamer Love Fest 2015 was a personal complete success from an attendee perspective. Kudos to the efforts by all involved! Well done!

Davy reminisces with Jim and Brenda Duggan (above photo) over some artistic drawings of well known Legends of Fly Fishing.

Although this event held annually is a celebration of the technique of streamer flies and fishing streamers, it appeared to me that it could have been an abbreviated version of Who’s Who of Fly Fishing.

One thing for sure, right there under the roof of Dally’s Ozark Fly Fishers last night there was no shortage of decades of experience in the art of fly fishing and fly tying.

Everyone seems to eventually settle into a style and technique in the world of fly fishing and tying, just one of the aspects in my opinion that makes this sport especially unique. The other being that it truly can be enjoyed by all ages, without regard to gender.

I had such a terrific time and wish that I had took more pictures but got so busy visiting with all who gathered; a spectacular precursor to the areas next annual event, Sowbug Roundup 2015!
Many conversations last night included plans to attend the Sowbug event. As time gets a bit closer I will be posting information and a reminder for you.

In closing, besides Superbowl 49 today, Bull Shoals trophy zone also opens. Be sure to check the regulations for fishing zones and if you are unsure, stop in at Dally’s for newest copy (or many other locations) or go online to: http://www.agfc.com for up to date regulation changes- 2015 Arkansas Game and Fish Trout Fishing Guidebook.
Ignorance will get you a fine!

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We take violations on our trout serious here in Arkansas.

Our Game and Fish Field Officers are invaluable to the conservation of our rivers and the aquatic inhabitants who thrive in the White and Norfork Rivers, hats off and a huge thanks to all of them.

You too can protect our resources while on our rivers by calling the Stop Poaching Hotline open 24/7: a Toll free number 800-482-9262. Put this number in your phone contacts before you head to the river.

Keep a hook in the vise,

TBird

At least for the most part we escaped the normal high temperatures we often see here in July, all be it this past few days its back to normal seasonal temperature.

Often as not that will also mean we will see some high water generations due to increased power demand, which is at this time taking place.  That being the case options for the best zone to fish will largely be based on water levels.

That being said their are two options here. The first is to check the COE site to see what was run prior 24 hours, that will give you some idea of what to expect at lower levels from the dam in the case of the White River if water was generated or not, rise or tailwater.

So far as the Norfork, rise and fall of water takes place quicker due to the shorter length of that river.

The second is to check projected schedules for the day, that said do not take it for granted that is what will take place. Pretty much to keep up to date with what is taking place you need to check on a regular basis.

 

Fishing.

The past month has been as good as you could ask for.
Stocking levels are high at this time so plenty of rainbow trout out there, not to mention always the chances to nail some of the trophy Browns, which indeed we have.

What you will have to do is to adjust your rigs and methods to suit the conditions and water levels where you are fishing at that time.
What we do now see compared to past years before min flow is the water temperatures well within the comfort levels for the fish, and due to that you may well find fish active all day, as there will be no serious increase in temperature to shut the bite down.

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Ian Cooper with one of the trophy Bows he caught fishing with Davy at Bull Shoals Dam. (Davy Wotton photo.)

My general approach at this time is to fish dry fly early on before the sun gets high and puts the fish down from surface interest.
Options here will include flies in the order of ants, beetles, hoppers, humpies.

Two fly rigs are also a good choice, hopper with an ant or humpy trailer are working well.

If you are fishing high water then during the day you might try fishing hoppers close to the banks and under overhanging vegetation, you never know when that trophy brown will show interest.

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A 22 inch Brown, took a Red-head Black Whitetail Midge.

(Davy Wotton photo)

 

Best bet after fishing the dries is to fish nymph rigs.  If lower water levels then you will not go far wrong with this range. Whitetail midges in black, pearl, silver, red. Also red-head whitetails. Pheasant tails, Hares’ ear scuds and sowbugs.

If fishing at Bull Shosls Dam or Norfork during min flow levels then you will need to scale down hook sizes, here you will need a range of small midge patterns, (18/24 hook size ) pupa, emergers and dry. Both small scuds and sowbugs likewise good choices.

Fishing both dead drift and with slow retrieves soft hackles and wet flies likewise can be deadly, so always worth giving this method a try.

As light levels increase so fish will seek shade, that being the case look for  zones where there is more depth, moss beds and rock structure, guaranteed you will also find fish in residence.

 

Water conditions are generally as good as you can get so far as clarity during lower flows, that said the fish can be wary, there fore longer leader/tippet sections may well be needed down to 5 and 6x.

Likewise the same will apply if fishing Bull Shoals Dam trophy zone during high water generation as here water will be gin clear. Lower down stream this may not be the case.

 

The deal is when fishing high water flows is to get the flies close to the river bed, which in the case of fishing clear water does not always mean you have to fish large flashy bugs ( unless the water is well colored) often as not that is not the case. Generally, l will fish same as l would for lower levels.

It’s as simple as this, the trout can easily see the naturals under these conditions, and they will likewise your imitations.
Case in point, l was fishing Bull Shoals Dam couple of days ago when 17,000 cfs was running. Those trout bows and browns were stuffed with sowbugs and scuds, most of which were in the hook size range 16/18,  likewise they also took our imitations of same size. That said in the case of the trout at Bull Shoals Dam we are not talking about newbie stock fish a also the case for the larger resident fish on the Norfork River.

 

I am often asked about night time fishing.
My experience is this, it is generally not worth fishing if there is thick fog on the water, that said with the current low water temps and high atmospheric temps odds are you will not find good conditions for night time or early morning of much worth until the fog starts to lift.

 

Tight lines all.

 

Davy.

 
(posted by Teresa “TBird” Van Winkle)
 

June; not as yet summer heat and humidity, but its on the way. Meanwhile the rains continue as l write.
l guess in way it’s good for the trout and the growth of what we have planted in the yard, not so much so far as having to mow the lawn more frequently. 

Fishing this past month has been pretty darn good, now the water temps are in the 50’s. Mininimum Flow Release along with released generations have more or less kept the river with good flow rates and that in turn has provided great habitat and food base for the trout.

Hatches.
Not much at this time so far as hatches; caddis was not as we have seen before and as yet we await the appearance of the sulphurs and related mayfly species.
If they do, and you see trout interested, then you will have options to fish: soft hackles, emergers, nymphs and dries- patterns associated with the species.
At this time the fish are concentrated mainly on midge, sowbugs and scuds, bait fish and crawfish, snails also in certain zones. 

Fishing
As a rule brown trout become more nocturnal in feeding habits once the day light hours increase, that said we have had some awesome brown trout fishing early AM before the sun gets high and the light conditions become unfavorable.
Typically, when the fog is still present over the river and the day is generally overcast.
Other than that, the rainbows for the most part have been active all day long. Water levels have generally not been high enough for big time streamer drift fishing, that said many of the big brown we have caught recently have been taken fishing wet fly and nymph rigs and smaller streamers tied to 8 and 6 long shank hooks, such as the sculper and Davy Wotton Bugger.

Often as not as of now when we see increase flows the river may become trashy with dislodged moss and alga, best bet here is to fish dead drift methods which will reduce crap on the leader and flies, same will apply if you fish your rig too hard on the bottom, likely your flies will be covered in moss and crap. Either way it pays to check your flies regularly.  

In the case of nymph fishing,  White tail Midges in black, red and pearl have caught serious numbers of fish including 20 inch plus browns.
Hook sizes 14/16. I have also fished many days with two fly combinations of a white tail midge and a soft hackle set 18 inches above the Whitetail Midge  or at times below the midge, again 18 inches below. The latter rig well suited to shallow water zones.

You may also find in the slower zones you will have to reduce overall size of your flies to max size 16 and even 18’s for dead drift techniques, you might also try a two fly rig of soft hackles 16/18’s, again fished dead drift.
I would also include this month so far as nymphs are concerned, gold ribbed hares ear, Pheasant Tail Nymphs, Sowbugs and Scuds.
If the water is high and dirty, then you will need to fish flies they can see such as Prism Worms, eggs and jigs.

You may also see early AM fish working the surface taking midge, choices here will include midge type soft hackles, pupa and emergers.

Small dries may also work well. In the case of dry fly fishing, now water temps have risen and the fish are actively looking for food, odds are you will catch fishing dries. Good general patterns to try are Adams, Ants, Cahills, Royal Wulf, Humpies.

Emerger style dries such as the various Klinks also well worth fishing. Still early, that said hoppers may also induce a good fish early AM and late PM after the sun has set. 

In the case of fishing small streamers, l favor to use either a short section sink tip, 4 to 6ft ips 4  or a intermediate line 1/2 ips. 

Once we do start to see the heat of the day, humidity and blue bird sky, odds are the fishing may slow down in the afternoon unless you seek deeper water that has good shade cover, moss beds or any other structure that provide fish with cover and shade. 

Tight lines all. 

Davy.  

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Photo courtesy of Grant Carter.

These beauties from the White River were the rewards for Grant Carter as a result of his studies from Davy’s Wet Fly Ways DVD.

Grant was kind enough to share with us his excitement of his newly applied techniques and had this to say; ” a few weeks back, my first double was brought to net. I was experimenting with Davy Wotton’s “Wet Fly Ways” with a tagged soft hackle on top and a caddis emerger as an anchor–”

Grant went on to explain; ” I have fished tandem soft hackles on the White River many times with good and bad days. I am convinced–a great way to fly fish emergers! ”

Davy and I are so pleased that Grant is doing so well with his newest found fly fishing style of fly fishing and guess that it is safe to say that he’s “hooked”.

Thank you for sharing, Grant.

If any one else has photos and want to send us your success stories we would love read them,  and you may do so by emailing them to: DavyandTBird@live.com

Keep a hook in the vise-

TBird

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