White River Trout Studies Released

We stumbled across these two long-awaited studies into the movements, feeding habits and mortality of  White River and Norfork Tailwater brown trout courtesy of the Arkansas Fly Fisher’s Club.

We gave them a cursory read before posting but there is plenty to interest y’all.

Among some of the highlights,

 trout didn’t actually move all that much during the studies pointing to the effectiveness of  C+R areas.

Rainbow trout ate more algae than any other food group, though algae’s food value was questionable. (Is this trout junk food?)

Brown trout don’t actually eat many midges. Their dominant food source was scuds, sowbugs and especially for larger browns sculpins.

Download the Reports Here


  • The study certainly showed some interesting results, much of which l do concur with.
    I would however question the data recorded at BSD zone.
    Regarding growth rates.

    The study took place when the presence of didymo in that zone was serious.
    No question of doubt we saw the demise of the larger Bows in that zone and no real appreciable growth rates of trout that resided in that zone, due to the simple fact the food base was not available for the trout.
    It was also a period that we saw long periods of low water.

    In the case of Bows if there was any place on the river that this species had the potential to increase size wise over and above what we see at lower levels of the White it was here.

    I fish this zone probably more so than any other and witnessed the decline within 2 years after didmo reared its ugly head.

    There was no doubt that the presence of algae and moss was a large intake of Bows found through the system, which does indicate that invertebrate food sources for the numbers of fish in the system is limited.

    Which raises the issue, are we stocking way too many fish.
    I am of the view that in the case of Bows that is the case.
    I also believe that we should see the introduction of slot limits in given suitable zones, which offer the possibility of larger fish in those zones.

    As many of us know who fish the river often the high water this last year did increase growth rates for all species, particularly Brown trout, Bows also in certain zones did well in others not so.

    In simple terms high water not only allows for longer rates of survival it also increases habitat for the benefit of all water born organisms.
    I am not so sure that min flow would increase overall the benefits by a large percentage, however there is no doubt we would be better off with it than without.
    The long term effects of low water are no doubt detremental to the fishery as a whole.


  • Interesting! My question would be are the fish eating the algae or are they engulfing it because of what lives in it(scuds,sowbugs). I’ve witnessed fish rooting in the moss and algae to loosen scuds, sowbugs etc. and then pick them off one by one so why not grab a mouthful of the stuff and benefit from the food sources in it. I can’t imagine the moss and algae having substantial nutritional value. If I’m wrong, does anyone know a good algae pattern?

  • Hey guys good to see you both weighing in on this. For the benefit of newcomers both Davy and Clint are top guides on this river and have plenty to offer.
    We also enjoy having them in and around the shop.

    But to the details, I’m a little surprised this was released so quietly. If you look at the front page of the Mortality Study AGFC have had this since May last year. I’m not I understand the logic of keeping it under wraps.

    But anywho the algae issue with ‘bow is pretty surprising, but then again I don’t clean trout much anymore. I have been wondering the same issue, are they eating it because of a lack of food or have they worked out there are scuds etc in the algae.

    I also have a call in to Dan Magoulic to pick his brain on these issues, one ? being what sort of algae was it, didymo? or something else.

    Hey Davy ever fished any Daphnia cluster imitations 🙂

    Here’s a couple of other questions
    Were you suprised at the reletively low proportion of midges found in the stomachs, given the popularity of midge fishing, you both fish them quite a bit and tie some of our more popular patterns?

    Would you fish any other than a sculpin pattern on Norfork?

  • The algea they are eating is the bright green stuff not the didymo. Me and my fishing buddy take several stomach samples while we fish I think sometimes the fish see us coming and run. These fish are doing the same as what fish where doing three years ago mabey a little longer on Taneycomo. With that said alot of are patterns we used on taney are working on the white and I am catching the same amout we use to witch makes me very happy. We use to catch 80-100 fish wading in 5-6 hours mabey more.

  • Just a quick “thank you” for the “Pros” taking time to review and comment on the report. As a layman flyfisherman, i don’t have immense amounts of confidence in any study performed by our govt. agencies, but am thankful they took a shot. Best of all is hearing how the “Pros” interpret that study from their daily experience on the river. Thanks guys, we’re listening.

Comments are closed.