Fly fishing rod

Cool float an escape from the summer heat

There is a beautiful river nearby where the water is cold and refreshing for kayaking, wading and fishing on even the hottest days of summer.

The White River below Beaver Dam begins where the icy water passes through the base of the large dam, then emerges on the downstream side of the dam. There are about 7 miles of cold river before the water starts to warm up as it merges with Table Rock Lake near the Houseman access of White River.

The water temperature in the creek stays around 55 degrees summer and winter. This is because the water is drawn from the depths of Beaver Lake to be poured through two large diameter pipes inside the lower part of the concrete dam. This flow spins generators, which produce electricity used in northwest Arkansas and beyond.

The cold, refreshing water becomes the White River, also known as Beaver Tailwater, which floats canoes and kayaks downstream on dreamy summer trips. It refreshes trout anglers who stand waist-deep in cold water or sit beside the river in comfortable chairs.

The water is clear as an aquarium. Canoe and kayak paddlers can easily see trout and occasionally walleye cruising near the rocky, gravel bottom of the river.

Only one of the dam’s two hydroelectric generators is working. The other is out of service for maintenance. The estimated time for both generators to operate is September 2023, according to the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District.

The good news for river runners is that the flow from a generator is perfect for a float trip on the beautiful river. High cliffs cradle the river in some sections. Great blue herons and waterfowl are attracted to water. The gentle current is perfect for first time floaters and ideal for drift fishing from a boat for rainbow trout. See Arkansas Game and Fish rules for length limits, daily limit, and tackle restrictions.

During the summer, power generation typically begins between 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. and continues throughout the day.

Paddlers can choose from floats as short as half a mile to 7 miles or distances in between. The half-mile float begins at the Beaver Dam access 200 yards downstream from the dam and ends at the first campsites at Dam Site River Campground. A 3 mile trip begins at the dam access and ends at the Bertrand access. The 7-miler is from the dam access to Houseman Access. Houseman is considered the end of the beaver’s downstream water.

One of our favorite trips includes floating, fishing and exercising with a nice 2 mile boardwalk. Start at the dam access, then float and fish the 3 miles to the Bertrand access. Carry the boats to the parking area so they don’t block the one-lane ramp. Leave the boats here. Return to the dam to your vehicle, then return to retrieve the boats.

It’s a one mile walk on the paved road to the top of the hill, then a one mile downhill to the dam. It is 5 minutes by car from Bertrand Access.

Three miles might not seem like a lot to float unless you’re fishing. We take our sweet time drifting slowly downstream. There are good places to stop and have a picnic even when a generator is producing the kilowatts and chilling water.

For catching trout, 1/16th ounce hair jigs are our favorite. Black, brown, or brown with a little orange work well. Small Rebel Wee Crawfish lures make trout bite. The same goes for Rapala crankbaits and small spoons.

For fly fishing, small jigs, woolly buggers, nymphs and scuds get the nod.

Floating in the beaver tail water will take your breath away, especially if one decides to cool off in this icy 55 degree water.

Flip Putthoff can be reached at [email protected]

Kayakers drift on the downstream waters of Beaver in July 2021. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/Flip Putthoff)