A massive band of wet weather is moving steadily across northern Arkansas today and tomorrow, dropping much needed rain that will give a nice boost to the watershed and saturate the peaking fall colors. Any extra water stored in Bull Shoals Reservoir will be welcome come streamer season after the new year, and in the meantime, this rain will create nice scenic fall floating conditions on our Buffalo National River.
Looks like beautiful weather starting again over the weekend with partial sunshine and highs in the sixties. Good crisp fall weather perfect for catching trout and forgetting your worries. We’ve seen periods of minimum flow on the White the past couple days, opening up some golden wading opportunities on favorite shoals like Rim, Roundhouse, Wilcat, the Narrows, and Three Chutes. In general minimum flow can create highly productive fishing by condensing all the trout into narrower holding areas – increasing the number of fish per unit of water if you will.
The combination of low flows and cloudy weather Thursday and Friday could spark some great hatch fishing with the possibility of blue winged olives, micro fall caddis, and midges. Although many of the browns in the river are busy with spawning activities, not all the browns spawn at the same time. Some spawn later in winter and these individuals are still in their usual haunts happily munching on unsuspecting bugs and baitfish. Periodic minimum flow, as long as it continues, should make it easier to pinpoint and target these remaining pre-spawn fish.
Read on for specifics on flows and flies.
Flows are fluctuating between minimum, or approximately 700cfs, and about 5,000cfs, an elevation difference of about two feet. The majority of the daylight hours however are correlating to the lower end of the spectrum – either minimum flow or 2,500cfs on average. The higher end of the current spectrum usually occurs in the late evening for only a couple hours. Egg patterns will be a standard attractor from now until spring, and can be enhanced with a trailing Super Midge, Redneck Midge, or Micro Mayfly Nymph. Alternatively, the egg can be positioned as the bottom fly on the leader, with a heavy nymph such as a Devil Jig or Jigged Pheasant Tail above to provide adequate sink rate. Making contact between the river bottom and the egg fly is the goal, since real trout eggs are denser than water and tumble along the bottom. Dry fly fishing is still making a good showing as well. On sunny afternoons small terrestrials (#10 Fat Alberts, Juicy Bugs, Western Ladies) can be deadly, and on cloudy days when blue wings or micro caddis are coming off, small parachute style dries (#18-22) and tiny Elkhair Caddis are effective.
Minimum flow plus an inch or two extra is the norm right now. Excellent wade fishing can be had up and down the river with access at Quarry Park and Ackerman, as well as the opportunity to use personal watercraft to access the whole river. The shoals are fishing well with eggs, Sunday Specials, and Root Beer Midges. The slow pools are a good place to suspend a Hunchback Scud or slowly strip a Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackle or small Wooly Bugger. Look for afternoon hatches of blue wings, micro caddis, and midges. Try floating small Parachute Adams, Elkhair Caddis, and Griffith’s Gnats.