The Beaver Tailwaters offers fine fly and tackle fishing in probably the prettiest section of the White River system. Often over-looked against the big-name tailwaters below Bull Shoals, Table Rock and Norfolk Dams, Beaver is relatively crowd-free except in mid-summer.
Beaver is in many ways a classic deep-draw Tailwater, with year round midge hatches, plenty of scuds and sowbugs. Mayflies are relatively scarce. Beaver Dam only has 2 generators but due to its narrow nature the rise can be up to 8 feet with fast flows. Wade fishing access is severely limited under most normal generation patterns. Watercraft can open up access to many fishable areas when the power station is running.
Electricity from Beaver is used to fill peak demand periods, which in summer means afternoons, and winter mornings and evenings. You can check online for generation in recent days.
Waders are essential due to the chilly water temperatures, and even in summer warm socks and thick fleece under breathable waders is advisable.
Gin-clear waters and slow flows place a premium on careful wading and stealthy presentation - the trout get plenty of time to inspect your offerings. A 9’ 3-4-5wt rod is useful for most low water fishing, with small indicators, and helpful for mending. Six-weights come into their own for windy days and for fishing larger streamers or in higher flows. Shorter rods can be fun as well.
Midges hatch reliably year round and are a staple of fly fishers on Beaver. Black, silver, red, brown and olive color schemes are the most often seen in fly boxes. Bead head and tungsten bead patterns like Zebra Midges, Charlotte’s Redneck Midge and the Razorback Midge and WD40s are extremely effective, when dead drifted anywhere on the river. While the naturals are often smaller than can be tied, these patterns are most effective in 22-16.
Soft hackle wets are a good choice when the fish are taking emerging midges below the surface. The Red Ass, Partridge and Pheasant, Partridge and Yellow.
And Partridge and Peacock are reliable “old school” choices. Newer tungsten bead patterns like Submarines and others can also be extremely effective.
Midging with dries is extremely challenging, requiring patience, precise stealthy presentations and often a sense of humor. Long fine leaders 7x and 8x, downstream fly first presentations, and a box full of tiny dries is essential. Try all-rounders like Griffith’s Gnats, Parachute Adams, and traditional Midge dries in Cream, Gray, Olive and Black. Look for trout rising consistently rather than cruisers.
Like all Arkansas tailwaters, scuds and sow bugs are always on the menu, from size 18 up to 14 being best bets. We love the local McLellan’s Hunchback Scud in olive, gray and tan, and Kaufmann’s scud patterns, both bead nd non-bead versions also work well. McLellan’s Woven V-Rib Sowbug and other sowbug patterns are also worth using, particularly in 2-fly rigs outside the “no-bait zone.”
Woolly Buggers are also enormously effective, particularly in olive, brown or black. Beadheads are more popular but weighted beadless buggers work as well. White buggers are useful during winter shad kills. San Juan Worms, egg patterns and Y2K bugs also work well. Those targeting larger fish may also want to try larger streamers on intermediate lines in the deeper sections, including sculpin patterns, zonkers and the like.