The heat has been quite tolerable the past couple days on local Ozark waterways, with highs in the upper 80s and low 90s instead of the scalp scorching 95+ we saw in mid June. The weather report for 4th of July weekend looks quite pleasant as well, with scattered showers providing intermittent shade, and a lovely breeze to stir the air.
You can bet that nice weather and holiday spirit will put plenty of folks on the water this weekend. The serious angler hoping for serious fish would be smart to fish the early morning hours, and the late evening hours, while spending the busiest and hottest part of the day hanging out with friends and family. Midday sun and high boat traffic can certainly put the lockjaw on the bigger fish. If it’s a wily brown trout, catch and release rainbow, or rod bending smallmouth you’re after, focus your efforts during the times when everyone else is still having breakfast or heading in for the 5 o’clock cold one.
There is definitely a summertime “magic hour” on our tailwaters that can turn an otherwise uneventful day into the best hour of trout fishing of your life. You can see and hear the signs of your luck about to change – the shadows growing longer, a thin layer of evening fog setting in, the sound of outboard engines fading into nothing, only the dipping and dripping of the oars left. Get your senses focused. Any minute now, any cast could be the one you’ve waited for.
Moderate flows of 2000-4000cfs in the mornings and higher flows from 5,000 up to 15,000cfs in the evenings provide a broad range of fishing conditions and opportunities. The lower flows can be fished very effectively with Pheasant Tails, Copper Johns, Hare’s Ears, Sunday Specials, and a variety of midge patterns including Rubies, Root Beers, Rednecks, Wotton Supers, and Zebras. The terrestrial bite has been spotty but has also yielded most of the better bows and browns as of late. Fat Alberts, Western Ladies, Wiley’s Ants, Chernobyls, and Grand Hoppers are all good in black, pink, tan, orange, or olive. Stick with smaller offerings (size 8-12) in lower flows and bigger offerings (size 4-8) in higher flows. For the experienced streamer fisherman who can wield a 300grain fast sinking line, the rising water on summer evenings is somewhat of an unsung streamer season that can produce the kind of trophy hunting we do in late winter – only this time of year we do it in flip-flops instead of insulated boots! Check out our well stocked streamer bins and grab a handful of meat to throw for the best fish in the river.
Norfork Dam is releasing big water from a sleuce gate on weekdays in an effort to bring down the level of Norfork Lake. These releases are murky, but cold and oxygenated, which could trigger a good streamer bite on big, flashy patterns. On the weekend, expect flows of one or two units, without added flow from the sleuce gate. Fish these flows as you normally would with egg patterns, San Juan Worms, large midge patterns, and maybe terrestrials too.