Dale Cole, a frequent visitor and part time resident on the White River, played the part of the perfect client on Monday when he asked me to teach him “anything I wanted to teach him” while he unloaded his barrel full of fly fishing questions over the course of the day. A couple hours of fishing and talking cleaned up his nymphing technique and broadened his understanding of the where and how fish feed when our tailwaters are running high and swift. After lunch, we ventured into the streamer/sink tip world for a while – a new experience for Dale and one that he felt quite uncertain about in terms of his abilities. Now I am no casting instructor, but I was proud of the progress we were able to make in just an hour or two of casting. The fish were not in a chasing mood, so we eventually went back to nymphing to close out the day of a high note, but Dale was smart to take advantage of some instruction time with a new technique rather than focus entirely on catching as many fish as possible. Thanks to Dale for being flexible and coachable – the best qualities a guide can hope for in his clients!
Continue reading for details on water flows and fly patterns.
A strangely warm Christmas week has resulted in thunderstorms and heavy rainfall over northern Arkansas and southern Missouri. Even though Bull Shoals lake elevation is within one foot of the top of current power pool, heavy tailwater releases of 17,000cfs or greater will likely continue to make room for the additional runoff. I would expect to see a more relaxed water release schedule as soon as the lake is safely within power pool. So for now, high water fly fishing tactics remain a necessity. That means deep and heavy nymphing with Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears, Copper Johns, Sowbugs, and large midge patterns, all trailing behind your favorite attractor pattern of course – I would suggest an orange Globall but pink or red San Juans would seem applicable as well with all the runoff. The streamer bite is inconsistent at best, but plying the heavy flows of the White with big meaty flies like front weighted Double Deceivers, Viking Midges, Circus Peanuts, or the Krakken is always worthwhile because of the enormous potential that lurks here. Don’t believe me? Check out Jake Jones’ fish posted on the blog December 17.
Flows have been reduced to one unit as Norfork Lake elevation closes in on power pool, providing perfect conditions for drift fishing from a Jon boat. Rigging deep and heavy with egg patterns, red worms, olive or grey scuds, and black or red Whitetail Midges will produce quality rainbows, and potentially a cutthroat or brown. These flows are also conducive to a scaled back streamer approach with type 3 sink tip lines instead of the usual type 6, and single hooked varieties like Sparkle Minnows, large Wooly buggers, Kongas, and Chubby Muffins.