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White River and North Fork River Conditions

Summer, 2011

This report is updated as conditions change. If the date has not changed since your last site visit it means conditions have not changed.

White River -  The White from Bull Shoals Dam on down is back within normal water level ranges. All flood gates at the dam are closed. Power generation levels have varied from a few to all 8 generators. The fishing is excellent. Trout docks and resorts are once again renting boats. The U.S. Army Corps is predicting that water levels will remain at the eight generator level for most of the summer, but it will depend on water levels in southeast Arkansas way downstream from this area at Newport.

North Fork River (Norfork River) - Both generators are running now as repairs are done. The North Fork is very fishable from john boats, and the fishing is excellent. Last weekend a fisherman caught a 30 inch rainbow which weighed 10 pounds. As with the White, water levels will depend on downstream water levels near Newport.

For Current Fishing Conditions Visit:

Davy Wotton's White River Fly Fishing Report

Donald Cranor's White River Spin Fishing Report

FAQs - High Water Trout Fishing on the White River & North Fork River

Q: Why Isn't This Part Of The White Flooded?
The White River is some 722 miles long. It starts in northwest Arkansas, flows north into Missouri, then runs southeast back into Arkansas again eventually flowing into the Mississippi River near Pendleton, Arkansas. Along the last few hundred miles of it's course several other large rivers drain into the White. This section of the White is way upstream from the areas that flood.

Q: Where Is "This" Section Of The White River?
A: This upper section of the White River runs some 75 miles from Bull Shoals Dam in Bull Shoals, Arkansas down to Allison, Arkansas. In the center of the area is the City of Mountain Home, Arkansas. The White River in this section is the border between Marion and Baxter counties in north central Arkansas.

Q: What About The North Fork River?
A: The North Fork River is a 4 mile long river running from Norfork Lake Dam down to the White River. The water levels of this famous trout fishery are mostly controlled by water releases from Norfork Dam. All high water conditions for the White also apply to the North Fork, aka the "Norfork" River. Almost all fishing guides conduct trips on the North Fork river as well as the White River.

Q: What is the difference between "High Water" and "Flood"?
A: High water means the river is near flood stage, but has not gone over it's banks. Fishing is excellent and safe for experienced river boat operators. Flood means the river is over it's banks and homes, access roads, and farmlands are under water. It makes no sense at all to be out on the river in flood stage, let alone be fishing in it.

Q: What About Boat Launch & Dock Access In High Water?
A: Since the river has not gone over it's banks you can still access launch ramps and docks as normal. But be careful launching a boat as the current will be fast and swift even in close to the banks. Getting the boat back on the trailer can be tricky in fast water. You may find it easier to bank your boat and trailer it from there. Wade fishing is unsafe.

Q: Is It Safe To Operate Boats In High Water?
A: Only if you are experienced at it, or have taken special instruction. The safety threat is strong currents, not white water rapids or waterfalls. If you don't know how to handle a boat in strong currents you can flip the boat and drown. Actually there are very few serious threats, but you better know what they are.

Q: Why Should I Hire A Pro Guide For High Water Fishing?
A: For safety and best fishing success. First, pro guides have no problems handling boats in high water. They've done it for years without incident. Further, chances of catching big trout are good in high water conditions. But playing a large trout in strong currents is a tough and fun challenge. You'll have your hands full just playing the trout. The guide handles the boat while you play the fish. It is very difficult to play the fish and maneuver the boat at the same time in strong currents.

Secondly, high waters concentrate 100 percent of the fish in 10 percent of the river. The White River trout fishery is some 75 miles long. During high water that means you have to really know where to go to find fish. Once you do, the action is non-stop. You can waste much of the day just trying to find the trout. The guides put you on them right away.  You put your time into catching trout, not looking for them.

Q: Is The Trout Fishing Really Any Good In High Water?
A: Yes, absolutely, even in the highest waters. Guides all say high water fishing conditions are some of the best.

Q: What About Wade Fishing In High Water?
A: No! You slip and fall in a strong current and chances are slim you'll come out alive.  Your waders will fill up with water instantly. The added weight is too much to fight. Don't even think about it!

Q: Can You Fly Fish From A Boat?
A: Yes. Fly fishers do it all the time. Some used to wade fishing only find the idea of fly fishing from a boat unappealing. But try it and you'll soon discover how much fun it is.

Q: What About Bank Fishing?
A: Yes, you can bank fish at all the normal public spots. Bank fishing is limited mostly to the public access areas as the rest of the river frontage  is private property.

Q: Can You Rent River Boats In High Water?
A: It depends on how each rental operation feels. They understandably worry about inexperienced boat operators in high water conditions. Some will rent you a boat only after they give you a quick course on safe high water boat operations. Others won't. It is between you and whomever rents you the boat.

Q: What About Floating Trees & Debris?
A: If the high water is the result of heavy rains, then yes, there will be some big logs and entire trees floating in the river at the speed of the current. One of these hits your boat it will not be fun. Fortunately you can spot them long before they are near you - provided you stay alert. The danger in a "tree hit" comes when you are intensely focused on playing a nice big trout and you don't look up in time. Again we say, fishing with a pro guide in high water makes a lot of sense for safety and fun.

Q: How Does Muddy Water Affect Fishing?
A: The river water turns muddy after heavy rain fall. This can be a good thing. The muddy water comes from bank dirt falling into the water, both on the main river channel and from tributary creek banks. When a bank caves in the resulting dirt fall usually contains worms, night crawlers, and tons of other natural bait trout love to eat. While the fine silt tends to clog their gills, they'll risk dirty gills for a feast.

Q: How Do I Find A Good Guide?
A: Below in Helpful Links is a link to a directory of resorts, trout docks, and independent guides all offering guided trout fishing trips. Browse through their web sites, then phone a few with your trip questions. We recommend not waiting until the last minute to book a trip. Experienced trout fishers are well aware of the great fishing high water offers. Guides tend to book up fast. Yes, we know, sounds like sales hype. Rest assured it is not. You want a trout fishing trip to remember for a lifetime, book a trip now for this spring or summer.

Helpful Links

Road Information For Arkansas
1.  http://www.arkansashighways.com/roads/roads.aspx
Wondering if there are any roads closed on your route to this area?  Here's the Web site detailing road conditions in Arkansas.

2. http://twitter.com/#!/AHTD
Arkansas Highway & Transportation Department on Twitter. Shows current Arkansas road closings.

3. Phone 501-569-2374 for a recording of Arkansas road closures

Flooded & Closed Road Information - Links for Arkansas & surrounding State highway and road condition information and maps.

Local Weather & Lake Level Information

Bull Shoals Lake/White River Generation Levels
This shows both Bull Shoals Lake level and White River Level. "Elevation" shows the lake level as feet above mean sea level (ft-msl). "Tailwater" shows the river level as feet above mean sea level (ft-msl). "Release" is shown as cubic feet per second (cfs). Electrical "Generation" is shown as megawatt hours (mwh). In the end what you end up with is knowing how much water is currently (no pun intended) running in the river.

Norfork Lake/North Fork River Generation Levels
This shows both Norfork Lake level and North Fork River Level. "Elevation" shows the lake level as feet above mean sea level (ft-msl). "Tailwater" shows the river level as feet above mean sea level (ft-msl). "Release" is shown as cubic feet per second (cfs). Electrical "Generation" is shown as megawatt hours (mwh).

Current Weather & Lake Levels
A special local weather feed taken from the local NOAA aviation weather station. Also shows lake levels  and barometric pressure

Lodging, Resorts, Boat Rentals, Guides
A directory of services on the White River or North Fork River.


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