Paddlers may never know it’s 95 degrees in the shade when floating the icy-cold White River below Beaver Dam.
The 7-mile tailwater stream offers a welcome respite from summer heat and a scenic river trip ideal for beginner and expert paddlers. The river is a refreshing 55 degrees or so year-round because the flow comes from down deep in Beaver Lake where the water is always cold.
Current picks up and the river rises when water is released through the dam to make electricity. The gentle current is just right for a float from the access near the dam to Houseman Access, seven miles down river.
Even when there’s no water release, the paddling is easy with no wild water. Tall cliffs, forested banks and an array of birds and four-legged wildlife are sights that delight.
If that’s not enough, trout cruise the depths of the clear, cold river. A hoped-for tug on a fishing line is the draw for anglers. They fish from shore, wade the shallows and fly fish or cast from boats.
Bruce Darr enjoyed the occasional puff of cool breeze on his face while making artful casts with his fly rod during a canoe float trip. At mid-morning on July 19, a sunny Friday, the temperature was already pushing 90. The cold river sheltered Darr and his fishing partner in the back of boat from the swelter.
Darr lives on Beaver Lake east of Rogers, but is eager to shift gears from warm-water fish to cold-water trout when it’s hot.
“It’s so nice down here with this cool water. It’s a great summertime outing,” he said. ‘
He’d already put two rainbow trout on ice casting a size 16 bead-head pheasant tail fly.
Steadily the two gathered the main ingredients for a smoked trout dinner, but it wasn’t easy. In mid-July, Table Rock Lake was high and lake water was backed up all the way to Beaver Dam.
Table Rock is the next reservoir downstream. A high lake level sends water creeping up the White River and turns it from a stream to a lake environment.
Plan A was to float from the dam to Houseman Access. When the two fishermen found the water backed up, they went to Plan B and a shorter canoe trip. Bertrand Access is midway between the dam and Houseman Access. The pair launched at Bertrand for a trip of about 3.5 miles to Houseman instead of seven.
At the ramp, they got an unexpected lesson on how to catch trout. Eight-year-old Ivy Beasley and his grandpa, Kenny Tessaro of Tontitown, were fishing from shore. Ivy cranked in two beautiful rainbow trout in about five minutes. What’cha using there, Ivy?
“Power Bait,” the youngster piped. Indeed, the dough bait seems irresistible to trout. Ivy was proud to say he’d caught four trout total.
Other anglers would rather fool ’em with lures than feed ’em with bait. Darr prefers fly fishing.
“Little nymphs, scuds and midges are always good here. If the water was flowing more, a streamer or woolly bugger is good,” he said.
In the lure category, small jigs in olive, black or brown work well. A jig that’s one-sixteenth-ounce or smaller is a wise choice. When the water’s flowing during power generation at the dam, countdown Rapalas and small spoons may work.
Rainbow trout, brown trout, and possibly a few cutthroat trout, are in the river. Rainbow trout are stocked by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission through the year. Brown trout are stocked, but not as often. There is some natural reproduction of brown trout, but not rainbow trout.
By trip’s end at Houseman Access, a half-dozen rainbow trout rested on ice in the cooler. Most would agree that’s a decent fishing day, if a study by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission is a clue.
Game and Fish did a creel survey on the stream during 2017, interviewing anglers about their fishing, said Wes Sleeper, a trout management biologist with the agency.
“For the most part, people were satisfied with the fishing,” he said. “Overall, the responses we got were positive.”
This fall, an electrofishing study is planned for the Whiter River below Beaver Dam, Sleeper said. That will give biologists a snapshot of the fish population to see if any regulations or stocking changes need to be made.
For fishing or just relaxing on a cool waterway, the White River below Beaver Dam beats the summer heat.
Wet a line
Trout fishing is good in the White River below Beaver Dam, but several regulations are in place to ensure good fishing in the future. Regulations include size limits and tackle restrictions. Know the rules before you go. The daily limit is five rainbow trout.
Source: Staff report
Trout Unlimited National Meeting
The annual national meeting of Trout Unlimited is set for Oct. 2-6 at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers. Trout anglers and fisheries experts from around the nation and world will come for fishing, seminars and meetings.
The gathering will feature activities for the public and for Trout Unlimited members.More information will be available as plans are finalized.
Trout Unlimited is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the conservation of freshwater streams, rivers and associated upland habitats for trout, salmon, other aquatic species and people.
Source: Trout Unlimited