ABOUT NORFORK TAILWATER
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 of 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.
FISHING THE NORFORK TAILWATER
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 travelled middle part of the river.