Happy Turkey Day Y’all! I’m writing this sitting in my Mother’s kitchen, enjoying the smell of turkey and dressing coming from the oven, and looking out the window at the garden where the sweet potatoes were dug, and the creek in the backyard – a pristine woodland watershed deep in the Ozark National Forest. I’m feeling particularly thankful to have the opportunity to be at home, not working, surrounded by the people, sights, sounds, and smells that I love. I am incredibly lucky to be in this comfortable, safe, and healthy environment, when so many around the world live in fear and struggle to meet their needs day to day.
These kinds of thoughts and reflections may seem way off topic for a fishing report, but if you take a step back to look at the big picture, our entire fly fishing experience that we love so much is made possible only through a number of preexisting cultural and political conditions that we take for granted, so really, a broad emotional response on this Day of Thanks is more than applicable, it is necessary. Ideals like democracy, environmentalism, and public water are the building blocks of our rich recreational experience, and much of the world simply lacks the cultural and political foundation needed to support outdoor recreation.
So this Thanksgiving I am grateful not just for food and family but for the incredible outdoor opportunities we have in this country. Let’s put some substance behind our gratitude by showing support for our local conservation organizations like Trout Unlimited, Friends of the Rivers, and AGFC. Read on for fishing conditions and flies.
Low water is everywhere today and tomorrow, and likely over the weekend as well given the nice mild stable weather conditions. Always be on the lookout for rising water of course, especially in the mornings and evenings, but for the most part wade fishermen should feel pretty comfortable in the river this week. The last of the fall foliage is still clinging to the trees, colors are finally saturated with recent rains, and temperatures are hovering in the 50s during the day, so right now our tailwaters are offering up some of the best wade fishing of the year, in terms of both productivity and all around highly enjoyable conditions. Low water nymphing is extremely productive with a variety of flies imitating the sporadic and variable Blue Winged Olives that come off in the fall: small Hare’s Ears, Pheasant Tails, and Copper Johns, Micro Mayflies, and virtually any small, dark bodied nymph such as an Iron Lotus. Swinging small buggers and soft hackles through the riffles and shallow moving water is quite a bit of fun as well, feeling the bite on a tight line as opposed to staring at a bobber all day.
At minimum flow, the shoals are perfect for drifting a Sunday Special, egg pattern, or Root Beer Midge, or swinging a bugger or soft hackle. The slow pools are best fished with suspended Scuds, Sowbugs, and small dark nymphs like a #16 thread head PT. Under flows of one unit, drifting from a boat with weighted egg patterns, Sunday Specials, and even a weighted shad imitation can tempt some fat bows and cutthroats.