Two months ago everyone was whining about drought. But the vagaries of Ozarkian weather patterns now has the wild-run rivers in flood, and the White River catchment dams on the rise.
The White below Bull Shoals Dam remains a spot of relative calm amid the chaos all around, as it is supposed to, holding back the spring monsoons. We have been seeing clean water down to Cotter and low flows, under a generator) all week.
Despite the flooding you will see on the everywhere else, the upper stretches of the tailwater should remain clean and fishable close to Bull Shoals even through this weekend.
Below Crooked Creek’s entry into the White, below Rim Shoals, I’d probably skip for a while. Similarly while the North Fork of the White will probably be blown out next week, Norfork Tailwater will hold back the floodwaters and run low.
While the rain and river conditions may present some temporary inconveniences, just remember that it is just that- temporary.
With that, lets talk about what’s been working.
Releases, for the most part, have been a steady single unit (around 3,000 cfs), with occasional spikes of up to 4 units. With the lake continuing to rise above power pool, there is the potential for higher discharges, but we’ll have to wait on the wild-run rivers to fall out.
While this isn’t necessarily the news wade fishermen want to hear, a little more water flowing over the shoals is a welcoming site for those fishing from a boat.
Caddis pupae/emerger patterns such as Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackles, Prince Nymphs, and Pupae Delectae have been working well, and should continue to do so depending upon conditions. We continued to see a strong hatch earlier in the week, prior to this last rain.
Caddis dries such as Elk Hair Caddis, E-Z Caddis, E-C Caddis, and CDC Caddis have been highly productive as well. Again the productivity of these flies depend largely on how much longer the hatch continues.
Midges (ruby, rootbeer, & redneck in size 18), pheasant tails (in sizes 14, 16, & 18), devil jigs (red and copper in sizes 14 & 16).
Also, try throwing a Strollis Quill Body Jig (size 14), or Devil Jigs (size 14) either by itself or in combination with a colorful attractor, such as a Y2K or Keller’s Hot Worm. The jigs also make a great lead fly ahead of midge pupa.
Highly productive big water streamers include CJ’s Sluggo, Dally’s Twerkin Minnow, Schmidt’s Double Deceiver, Lafkas’ Super Cougar and Lovechild Sculpin, and Lynch’s D&D.
On the lower flows, large olive woolly buggers, Sparkle minnows, FS Bunny Sculpins, Kreelex flies, and Lunch $ are all producing.
For those finding themselves fishing more off-colored water, try throwing streamers with a darker color and a little more flash.
Nymph fisherman can expect to do well with Garrett’s Purple Death (size 18), Clint’s Sunday Special (sizes 16 and 18), midges (root beer and black & purple zebra in sizes 16 & 18), pheasant tails (size 16 & 18), prince nymphs (size 14 & 16), hunchback scuds (size 16 & 18), and tailwater sowbugs (sizes 16 and 18).
Small sculpin patterns like FS Bunny Sculpins, Slump Busters, and Cone Head Woolies, are also productive when stripped slowly over the bottom.