Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 2/7/2018

Ben score his biggest trout ever in cold conditions below Bull Shoals Dam, one of  2 24″ browns that morning: Steve Dally image

This week the White River is displaying its wondrous complexity as a fishery, yielding outstanding angling under a variety of circumstances. Using our White River Fly Fisher app to see SWPA river forecasts is the perfect way to plot out your approach to the river whether its on foot, personal watercraft, oar boat, or state of the art Supreme jet boat.

With the opening of the Bull Shoals catch and release area one week ago, wade fishermen have had access for at least a few hours to shoals and pools that have been closed to fishing for three whole months. Even though we received some much needed rain recently, lake levels will not show significant rise from this precipitation and we can expect to continue to see some wading opportunities, particularly on weekends.

Hunting big browns on big flows with big streamers has been fair to fabulous, with fish up to 28 inches taken this week. Overcast skies tend to offer more productive conditions, but persistent anglers are finding success under the sun as well, and the warmth from its rays is certainly a creature comfort when temps are low. There are no perfect conditions. If you wait for perfect conditions you’ll never go fishing.

shad-1The highlight of the week has been the shad bite at Bull Shoals Dam. When the morning push turns on, up to 6 units or about 17,000cfs, dead and dying shad from the lake are being sucked through the turbines and come drifting down the river, providing easy protein for hungry trout.

Its no secret, so be prepared for heavy boat traffic in the Bull Shoals catch and release area, but when its on, everyone is catching fish. Shad imitations are working from the top to the bottom of the water column, both on the dead drift, and the slow retrieve.

Read on for specifics on flows and flies.


White River:

The morning push is starting early on weekdays and lasting until 10 or 11am, then it is cut back to one unit or minimum flow. Therefore the best shad bite is early, and the best wade fishing comes in the afternoon. Streamer fishermen can follow the heavy flows downriver as far as necessary.

Expect to see more low water this weekend. Hot shad flies are Todd’s Wiggle Minnow, Hippie Chick, Arkansas Beadhead, and the Puff Daddy. Wade fishermen are having success on low water with egg patterns, Whitetail midges, Wotton sowbugs. Streamer fishermen are having success on Alex’s Modern Deceiver, Super Cougar, and Lovechild Sculpin.

Norfork River:

Catch rates seem to be improving, and most of the action is near the Ackerman access on minimum flow. The water is down most afternoons and usually all day on weekends. Eggs, Hunchback Scuds, Root Beer Midges, olive and black wooly buggers are all taking fish.