The jig is up when it comes to whiling away a late summer day on the cool, trout filled White River below Beaver Dam.
Fishing from a boat is the best way to catch trout below Beaver Dam when power is being generated.
Anglers may launch small power boats or paddlecraft at three public launch ramps. Beaver Dam ramp is about 200 yards downstream from the dam. Bertrand ramp is three miles down from the dam. Houseman access is seven miles downstream from the dam.
Clear water pours out at 52 degrees from the base of the dam, making the Beaver tailwater a refreshing destination for fishing, kayaking and canoeing in the dog days of summer.
That dog hasn’t had much bite with the cool weather of late. It’s made trout fishing even more pleasant for trips to the river this summer. Wisps of cool breeze caress sun-screened faces. Trout are eager to bite.
Dwayne Culmer found that a handful of small jigs are all an angler needs to feel a tug and see a graceful rainbow trout deep in the clear water putting up a fight.
Culmer is a bass fanatic who lives on Beaver Lake in the Rocky Branch area, but a trout fishing trip peaked his interest. He’d never fished below Beaver Dam.
Light fog shrouded the river at dawn when Culmer and his fishing partner launched a boat at Houseman Access, seven miles downstream from the dam. The river offers seven to eight miles of trout water before it joins Table Rock Lake and gets too warm for trout. That’s a tiny tailwater compared to the White River below Bull Shoals Dam and its 100-mile tailwater trout fishery.
Culmer cast a whippy ultralight spin-cast rod and reel with 2-pound test green monofilament line. That’s lighter gear than the bass stuff he’s used to. Trout wasted no time in hammering Culmer’s small black jig on a bend in the river about a mile upstream from Houseman Access.
After the fog lifted, the pair motored two miles upstream to the Bertrand Access and fished their way back down. Trout bit at every spot they stopped. Culmer could do no wrong casting a black or brown PJ’s Finesse Jig made in Fayetteville. The three-thirty-seconds ounce size proved ideal.
The Beaver tailwater may be the only place where anglers might gripe if a trout’s too big. Culmer wanted to keep a few trout for his smoker, but regulations require releasing all trout between 13 and 16 inches. Anglers can keep trout shorter than 13 inches or one trout greater than 16 inches. The daily limit is five.
About half of the 25 trout caught this sunny but cool Aug. 18 were in the 13-16 inch slot limit and went back in the river. But a nice mess of 12-inch trout were on ice by noon.
Brown trout swim in the river, too, but none bit during this trip.
Electricity wasn’t being generated at the dam, so there was little current. Power generation is typically in the afternoon this time of year. The dam has two generators, but one is down for repair. One generator puts a nice flow in the river.
Tom Steinke, a clerk at the Beaver Dam Store, said wade-fishing is good from first light until generation starts. After that, fishing is best from a boat.
“The best bait has been Power Bait tipped with a wax-worm. People are catching them with small spoons, too,” Steinke said. “Your nymphs have been working best for fly fishermen.”
Scott Branyan of Rogers is a fly fishing guide on the Beaver and Bull Shoals tail-waters. Fly fishers might try grasshopper flies for trout during mid-to-late September, he said. Hopper fishing is best below Bull Shoals Dam, but they’re worth a try below Beaver Dam, he added.
Flies such as bead-head pheasant-tails, zebra midges and prince nymphs work well below Beaver Dam when no generators are running. Switch to larger, streamer flies during generation, Branyan suggested. A size 6 Clouser minnow is ideal, he said.
Flip Putthoff can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter@NWAFlip.