Have you ever wondered why the fish hang out in certain places and not others? What are they thinking??? Well, we'll never figure it out completely, but we sit on a very interesting stretch of the White that has practically every conceivable type of river bottom in about a one mile stretch. And before we figure out where the fish are, we have to first identify their "neighborhood". :-)
I'll describe the river starting above us near Hurst, down below us just past the 62 bridge - a distance of about 3/4 mile -- using common river terminology.
Begin at the beginning - the waterfall. OK, so it's not a very big waterfall, but the river does actually drop a little bit - you can see it (and feel it) as you go through either way. It's probably more accurately described as a “Chute”. This is just across from Hurst dock. Even at low / no generation, this is still not a stretch you'd ever want to wade into! The water is so fast, the fish don't generally hang in it anyway - takes too much energy. However, this kind of water feature tends to make little pools directly underneath themselves, where fish can hang out sometimes... getting your fly down there - or anything for that matter – is the real trick!
Just below that, a small stretch that could be considered rapids, maybe only 15 - 20 yards long. This water looks just like the name implies. It's fast and noisy. Fish may hang out behind larger rocks in a rapid area, but you're going to really have to entice them to come out.
Then, a very short stretch of deeper, faster riffles just below that - approximately 25 yards. The look of the surface water is very distinctive - choppy and bubbly. Lots of O2 here, and critters to eat. This is often a good place for the trout to look for dinner.
This leads immediately into a nice run that comes down past the RV park, just to the point where the current turns towards our dock (east) from the Marion County (west) side of the river. (This ends where, at about 1 generator, you can still walk out from the gas pipeline on the Baxter County side (our side) and still stand on the grass.) The run is about 200 yards or so. The run is a deeper, and slower than the short section of riffles above it. It's a little harder to see the bottom, and the fish seem to like it this way. They have plenty of O2 and food, and often feel a little safer.
On the left, we have a gentleman wading when the water is low, and on the right, we have a really nice female Brown trout, caught while fishing from a boat. (This fish was released unharmed.)
Normally, you'd think a pool would be next, right? Well, most of the time you'd be right, except not here. :-) Mother Nature had another idea when a huge (150' plus) Sycamore tree fell from the river bank on the west side, and created a pretty big gravel bar over time. (The huge limb you see that still sticks out is only a small part of the entire tree.)
I have guests that have been coming here forever, who saw this tree fall many years ago, and have watched the gravel bar form. This gravel bar is what interrupts that water from the run just above it, and aims the flow back over to our side of the river. So, what do we have here? It's actually another 50 yard section of shallow riffles running almost west - east across the river nearly perpendicular to the bank.
Then, about 100 yards above our dock, the run (previously interrupted by the gravel bar and diverted to our side of the river) continues on down to approximately the dock. It's relatively deep here. Even at low water, it's about 3 - 4 feet deep, but only about 15 feet wide, winding around the gravel bar on the west side of the river.
Now finally, the pool. It's an odd shaped pool, not really that deep as far as pools go… It extends from just below the dock and goes down past the boat ramp, where once again, Mother Nature has interfered. The pool would have continued pretty much unhindered for several hundred more yards, except for the mouth of the spring creek that runs down just below the boat ramp.
You may think, "That little spring creek shallowed out the (east) side of the pool?" Well, you've never seen it in a heavy rain. It's gets up to 6 feet deep with an incredible amount of flow - probably 12 MPH! That creek just recently came up like I'm describing, and moved huge boulders and a bunch of gravel and dirt out into the river. Over time, its runoff has made the shape of the pool like a lopsided figure 8.
This creek's runoff has created a small section of flats on the east side of the pool. It's pretty much defined as the three sections of rock that runs perpendicular to the shore, which can be seen at 1 or less generators. The deepest part of the channel through these "flats" is back on the west side (the middle of the lop-sided figure 8). When there's a little more water, the fish will come out of the pool to feed here. There are typically lots of sculpins and other fish munchies here. However, be stealthier - they can see you! And, they can get right back into the pool either above you, or below you, depending on where you're standing.
The pool continues after the short section of flats for another 500 yards or so. Once again, it's deeper on the west side, but on the east side of the pool, there is a ledge that often holds fish. The pools will often hold plenty of fish, but they may be a little more wary. The water is slower and they don't have to rush to get their food. The pool continues past the bridge. Then, just after the 62 bridge, near Bayless Island, the water is kind of tunnels, creating a tail-out section. The fish don't often hold here, but will sometimes spawn in these areas.
So, now that you know what makes up the fish "neighborhood", see if you can't put that to good use next time you come!
The next thing you may be wondering about is how to predict the flow on the White River? Well, we’ve got a whole other page for you… click here.
Good Fishin’! --