Norfork Fishing Report from Dally's Ozark Flyfisher

Thursday, 28 Apr, 2016
Flows have been off most days until lunchtime at least, sometimes later. There is good wade fishing on low water with midges, caddis, and scuds. Root Beer midges are a favorite, Sunday Specials and Hunchback scuds are staples too, and a variety of soft hackles work great as caddis emergers. It’s a hoot to fish a bushy caddis like an Elk Hair with a midge dropper through the riffles.

Fishing Water Report
The name Norfork is a condensed idiom of North Fork and refers to the North Fork of the White River. This 110 mile river starts near Mountain Grove, Missouri, and flows south through ... moreMark Twain National Forest, but the most exciting section is the last five miles before it empties into the White.

In the depressed years of the late 1930’s, officials in the state of Arkansas lobbied hard for federal assistance in an effort to create a miniature version of the Tennessee Valley Authority. They succeeded with the 1940’s construction of a dam on the Norkfolk River and the creation of Norfolk Lake. Anglers can be grateful for an unintended consequence - the prized tailwaters below the lake.

This section of river benefits from cold water releases from the dam that provide ideal trout habitat. For anglers the result is nothing less than spectacular. In 1988 a 38.9 ounce German brown was caught, the second largest ever recorded worldwide. Also pulled from this tailwater - a brook weighing over 5 pounds that still holds the Arkansas record.

Although it’s possible to wade in certain sections, public access is limited through the middle of this section; most prefer to float and fish the whole run. Fish are abundant, stocked by the Norfork Hatchery near Quarry Park; the river is home to browns, rainbows, cutthroat and brook. On average, trout range from 12-14 inches but 20 inchers are quite common. Spirited anglers compete in what’s known as “the slam,” or catching all four species on the same day.

Before booking a trip, keep in mind that water levels are subject to change, access for wading is limited, and the middle third is strictly catch and release.
Reporting Outfitter
Gliding through the hills of the beautiful Ozark Montains in Arkansas is the White River and its tributary, The Norfork Tailwater. These are the finest tailwaters in the South, known ... moreto fly fishers all over the world for producing phenomenal numbers of trophy brown trout. Nestled on a bend of the White River is Cotter, Arkansas, "Trout Capital USA", and at its fly fishing heart is Dally's Ozark Fly Fisher. We are a fly shop for fly fishers, fly tiers, and fly enthusiasts. 

If you want to discover the waters of the Ozarks, learn to fly flish, or hunt trophy trout, our guide service is second to none. Our experienced guide team goes through waders and boots like others wear out jeans and tennis shoes. We offer guided fly fishing trips for wade fishing (when available), river boats and drift boats on both the White River and Norfork Tailwater, and Crooked Creek and Dry Run Creek tours for those who are under 16 and want to fish for the world's finest trout. If you're a beginner fly flisher, we also have a solid program of trying and fishing classes.

We also carry one of the region's largest selection of Sage, Orvis, and TFO fly rods. We have fly reels from Waterworks-Lamson, Abel, Sage, Orvis, and TFO. We carry Simms and Redington waders, boots and clothing, tools from Dr Slick and Orvis, fly boxes from Umpqua and Montana Fly Company. Our trying selection is backed with only the best from Wapsi, Hareline, Clear Cure Goo, Renzetti Vises, and Dr Slick Tools.

Dally's Ozark Fly Fisher is your gateway to the White River system and Ozark waterways. 
Reported Trip
  • Expert guide
  • Lunch, which could range from sandwiches, cold meats, southern fried chicken, fajitas or bbq for full-day trips
  • Beverages and snacks
  • Rods are available at no extra charge.
The Norfork Tailwater, the lower 5 miles of the North Fork of the White River, is as gorgeous a stream as you are likely to find anywhere in the USA. For good reason it was named one ... moreof Trout Unlimited's Top 5 Rivers to fish last decade. The Princess of Tailwaters is smaller, more intimate, and more like a western river than the broad expanses of the White. She offers the variety of the White, runs, riffles, flat pools, and plunge pools, poured onto a smaller canvas. Its also a great place to get an Arkansas Slam, all 4 trout species, browns, rainbows, brook and cutthroat on a single day. Yet despite the indignities she has suffered in recent years, runoff pollution, low dissolved oxygen, and massive flooding, the Norfork keeps bouncing back, like the sweetheart she is, producing quality fish and wonderful days. It's oft forgotten that not long before Rip Collin's 40lb 4oz world record brown caught on the Little Red River, the Norfork had produced her own contender, from McLellan's Dock. 

Norfork probably packs more variety in her 5 miles than most rivers in their whole length. The river remains a favorite for low water waders, more readily available than the White. But access is now only available at only 3 points, Quarry Park, the Ackerman Access and at the Confluence with the White. It takes some strong legwork and a knowledge of the generation patterns to get away from the crowds. Please read out Water Flow information as a guide. Many waders vacate the river totally when generation starts but few realise the quality fishing, and wading offered by floating the river by canoe, pontoon or drift boat. Like the White, sowbugs, scuds and midges form the mainstay of the food base, plus larger fare like sculpins, minnows and crawdads. Traditional nymphing, swung wet flies and European nymphing are all productive techniques. But there are also good opportunities for dry fly fishing on the midge, caddis, sulphur and terrestrial hatches. Norfork also can be a nice, pontoon or canoe float, to access the less traveled middle part of the river.

Being a fly fishing guide isn't just a way to earn a living. The best guides we know or have met have one thing in common, a burning passion, even obsession with the way of the fly rod. The ones who might guide you all day, then slip off to the river to fish of an evening; who schedule family holidays around fly fishing destinations and who climb out of bed in the middle of the night to tie that latest idea. There are plenty of guides on the White River system to "show you where the fish are" but fewer who can find the fish, know the rigging and tactics for changing conditions; have the right rods, lines and fly boxes for any eventuality; can teach you how to double haul, or single spey with a trout rod. Who share your passion. Our guide team, which also makes up most of our shop ownership and staff, are these guys. They go through waders and boots like others wear out jeans and tennis shoes, have fished 4 continents and North America from Alaska to The Keys. Regular folk would probably think them "not right". Our tailwaters can be some of the most complex to deal with anywhere, given the enormously varied water conditions you could face on any day. There aren't many places you can start the day wading at 50 cfs, and by midafternoon, be drifting on 20,000 cfs, and our guys will still have you catching fish and having fun.

These are the guys you want to make your fly fishing holiday one to remember for all the right reasons and keep you coming back season after season. The team offers wade, drift boat and river boat trips. They are state-licensed, properly insured and totally professional. They also happen to be a lot of fun.Bring your favorite rods or use our guide rods, at no extra charge, just give us a heads up when you book if you need gear. We can also arrange you to trial that next rod on your shopping list during your guide trip.You need to have appropriate clothing for the conditions, sunglasses, hat and sunscreen. Waders are optional on higher flows, essential on low water.

Our full day trips include lunch, which could range from sandwiches, cold meats, southern fried chicken, fajitas or bbq. Generally as standard we don't do cooked "shore lunches" which eat into your fishing time. But if your party would like a fish fry, bbq or other cooked lunches we are more than happy to arrange these services for an additional fee. Please let us know if you have any dietary requirements or serious dislikes, we can give the guide a heads up, particularly for soda choices alongside our standard bottled water.
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