The variety of water to fish in the Ozarks usually allows for a solid plan B when the weather/water conditions don’t line up for your preferred plans. Point in case, Randy Goins returned to us this week with the intention of chasing smallies with Ben Levin, but with the local bass creeks temporarily blown up from heavy rainfall, the boys opted for the controlled flows of the White River. After a few hours on the water, a massive spike in water release changed the game once again, but with flexible anglers and knowledgeable guides, any day can be salvaged, and with a little perseverance and change of tactics the boys were richly rewarded with the brown shown above. The key to never being rained out in the Ozarks, or anywhere else for that matter, is flexibility – adjusting your location, technique, or even targeted species will keep you in the game. Or you could follow young Trenton’s example below – just suck it up and fish!
Bull Shoals Lake is at the tippy top of power pool for this time of year, so expect strong water releases in the afternoons/evenings until the lake level recedes a little. Lower flows are fishing very well with Pheasant Tail nymphs, various sulphur nymphs, and midges. If dirty rising water catches you – be flexible – head downriver to stay on the low water, or if you have a boat, head upriver until the flows clear. On higher flows, especially if the water is trashy, try using a large bright San Juan worm or Glowball as an attractor.
Things seem to be back to normal for the most part – water is cold again and fish are biting. Water release patterns are similar to the White River in that you can generally expect low water in the morning hours and higher water in the afternoons/evenings. Scuds in olive, tan, and grey size 16-18 are a go-to summer fly for the Norfork, as well as the usual midge culprits like Ruby, Root Beer, and Whitetail midges size 18. For picky fish feeding on emergent midges try some tricky little flies like the Jujubee midge or Craven’s Mole Fly.
The creek is swift and brown at the moment, making it very difficult to get any flies down in the strike zones for very long, but the water normally rises and falls quickly. Barring another significant rainstorm, Crooked Creek should be fishable again in a couple days.