published July 16, 2009 by Ben Adams

The Norfork: A River in Crisis

For the past twenty five years, I have had a love affair with the Norfork River. This is the place that I want to fish when I have a day off from guiding. This is where I want my ashes scattered, when my time comes. When I first moved here several years ago, this is where I went with Lori and my yellow Lab Ellie or with clients when I wanted to catch trophy trout. Two decades ago it produced the then World Record Brown Trout, thirty eight pounds seven ounces. It was world renown and considered Arkansas’ true Blue Ribbon Trout Stream.

I fear that my great love is in a steep decline. She is beset with problems that are accumulating at an alarming rate. First it was the debacle at Norfork Overlook Estates, where an irresponsible developer stripped a hillside of all vegetation and dumped tons of silt into the river every time it rained. Sure he paid thousand of dollars in fines and replanted the hillside but great harm was done.

Then we had a hundred year flood where the Corps of Engineers had to open the flood gates seriously scouring the river bottom in the process. Couple that with an unsustainable level of trout harvest and a horrendous level of poaching. Every August brings dangerously low levels of oxygen, which result in significant annual fish kills. If this were not enough, the Norfork receives more angling pressure per river mile than any other river in Arkansas.

Read the rest of fishing guide John Berry’s article inside the Arkansas Hunting and Fishing Forum.

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Ben Adams

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