Recently a customer came into the store, and inquired about the “trout” and “pike” that she had seen on a recent trip to the Buffalo River. Now while trout can certainly be found in the lower stretches of the Buffalo during the winter months, the fish she was inquiring about, were actually Golden Redhorse Suckers (which have a striking resemblance to trout) and Longnose & Spotted Gar (which could be confused as a pike). After a quick Ichthyology lesson, the conversation then turned to the sportiness of the “non-game” fish species we have here in the Ozarks.
Based on the number of videos and pictures posted on social media, as well as magazine articles devoted to catching these “rough-fish”, there appears to be a growing number of anglers interested in catching fish like carp and gar on fly tackle. Not surprisingly, many of the same crustacean, nymph, and baitfish patterns that work on bass, trout, and even bonefish, will appeal to these fish as well. This doesn’t even include the dozens of “species-specific” flies available to buy or tie.
So the next time you are floating or wading on one of our creeks, lakes, or rivers, don’t pass up the opportunity to do battle with one of these “non-gamers”. Just be prepared to get re-acquainted with your backing!
With that, let’s talk about what’s been working.
Water levels continue to start out in the mornings around 5,000 cfs, and have consistently been ramped up to around 15,000 cfs in the afternoon.
While the San Juan/egg combo is still a good option, don’t disregard flies such as devil jigs, prince nymphs, pheasant tails, and midges (root beer and ruby). These flies have proven themselves, especially in 1-3 unit flows.
Also, continue to fish McLellan’s Hunchback scuds in dark grey, tan, rainbow, and orange, with Wotton’s Whitetail Super Midges being a wise choice as well.
The streamer bite will continue to be strong in those flows exceeding 2 units. Try throwing: BFH Double Deceivers, Modern Deceivers, CJ’s Sluggos, Drunk & Disorderlies, and Dally’s Twerkin Minnows (now available with Flymen Baitfish Heads). Olive/Yellow & Olive/White in deceiver-style patterns are a consistent performer right now.
Hoppers too are grabbing the attention of some really nice browns, so try Western Lady’s (pink or tan), Evan’s Baby Foam Hopper (purple), Willy’s Ant (black/purple), Fat Albert’s (black or pink), Jake’s Trigger Belly (lavender or black), and Morrish Hoppers (green and black). To appease those fish unwilling to come to the surface, try drowning one of the above hopper patterns with some split shot.
We’re continuing to see a short window of wadeable water in the mornings. While these opportunities are limited, wade fisherman are catching their share of some exceptional fish!
Mayfly style patterns include: Real Meal Nymphs, Mercer’s Micro Mayflies, and Tactical Hare’s Ear Jigs, have been doing great. It’s also essential to have some Ruby and Rootbeer Midges, Olive Woolly Buggers, and McLellan’s UV Scuds in your fly box as well.
During those times of generation, streamer choices include: Twerkin Minnows, Sluggo’s, Drunk & Disorderlies, and Double Deceivers.
Warmwater (Crooked Creek & Buffalo River):
Crooked Creek and the Buffalo are both fishing great! Water levels are optimal for both wading and floating (kayak/canoe). Smallies and Ozark Bass continue to hit crayfish patterns (Hada’s Creek Crawler & Whitlock’s Near Nuff Crayfish), baitfish patterns (Hada’s Craft Fur Clouser & standard Clouser Minnows), and topwater patterns (Boogle Bugs, Fat Albert’s, & Morrish Hopper). For sunfish including longear and green try throwing: Boogle Amnesia Bugs, McGee Rubber Legs, and size 12 Fat Albert’s. And don’t forget about those Carp and Gar!