What a wonderful time of the year! The weather is turning cooler, Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and Christmas will be here before we know it. With all of the shopping, traveling, and all around business that the holiday’s can bring, it’s easy to lose track of time, and neglect personal time spent on the water.
This is also the time of year when many sports persons trade in time on the water for time in the woods. This makes for a lot more elbow room and solitude for those wanting to fish the White and Norfork. Daily flows are low enough on both rivers to accommodate (at some point during the day) both wade and boat fishing.
So if spending a peaceful day on the water, enjoying the fall colors, and listening to the distant sound of migrating geese sounds appealing to you, then look no further than our part of the Ozarks.
With that, let’s talk about what’s been working.
With the recent closing of the catch and release area below Bull Shoals Dam, guides and fishermen alike who normally fish in that area, seek other areas to fish downstream. While the no fishing zone stretches from the Dam down to the wing dike at the Bull Shoals White River State Park trout dock, there is a second “seasonal” Catch-and-Release Area that stretches from the wing dike down to the downstream boundary of the park. This second area is not only open during the spawn, but is also strictly Catch-and-Release. Any browns caught in this area must be released immediately, as their presence is most likely a direct result of the spawn.
Currently, nymphing is still the go to method on the White. With flows ranging from one to three units, fishing midges, jig patterns, and eggs under an indicator is accounting for the most success. Rootbeer and Ruby midges, pheasant tails, and a variety of jigs including Devil Jigs, Hare’s Ear Jigs, and Steve’s Tailwater Jigs.
The Norfork continues to be off color due to all the organic matter that ended up in the lake this past April. In addition to its stained appearance there is a slight sulfur odor due to the lake’s Fall turnover. Low dissolved oxygen levels are at least partially to blame for the lower catch rates that we’re currently seeing, but based on recent reports, the catch rates seem to be improving.
With that said, there’s still good numbers of fish to be caught. If you head that way, be sure to run bright colors under an indicator. The best combo’s are either egg patterns or San Juan Worms ahead of a scud or sowbug pattern. Also, don’t rule out a Ruby or Rootbeer midge as well as a Tailwater Jig.