Starting last Thursday or Friday, the flow schedule changed from minimum flow around the clock to slightly less than one unit, with short two hour bursts of higher flow mornings and evenings. The cold, wet weather that arrived today has changed the flow schedule drastically, with flows as high as 20,000cfs released this morning for a few hours and likely again this evening.
As long as mornings and evenings stay cold, I would expect to see at least brief periods of heavy generation from the dam and the corresponding spikes in tailwater release. Lake level is holding steady right at the top of power pool so there is plenty of water to sustain these daily bursts of flow, especially with nearly an inch of rain in the forecast over the next 36 hours.
The weekend forecast looks beautiful, with sunshine, highs in the sixties, and winds light and variable. This could possibly set up some moderate to light flow again over the weekend, but it is very difficult to predict flows with accuracy when conditions keep changing. If significant rainfall accumulates in the watershed as a whole in the next 36 hours, we might see Bull Shoals Dam go into storage mode and shut down all flow.
It is a new year folks! Another 12 months and 4 distinct seasons worth of opportunities to explore the fishy streams and rivers of the Ozark Plateau. A big late winter brown on a big streamer, a chunky springtime smallmouth on a clouser, all the glorious topwater action of summer – all of that lies ahead on the calendar. We have much to look forward to!
Wade fishing opportunities are probably shot for the time being, but the time for hunting big trout from a boat on high water is upon us. Each week from now until March more and more of the river’s trophy brown trout will be finishing up their spawning efforts and will be resting and eating whenever possible. They will be keen on making the hunt worth their effort, and willing to chase large profile baits such as 8″ Double Deceivers, 8″ Modern Deceivers, 7″ Sluggos, and the like. Those looking for more consistent action with a bent rod would do well do employ high water dead drift tactics with visible and meaty offerings like eggs, San Juan worms, and weighted baitfish patterns like AR Beadhead.
Expect one to two units most of the day. Hop in a boat and enjoy deep dredging with eggs, worms, and baitfish imitations like Sparkle Minnows. Focus on slower seams, eddies, and flooded grassbeds. Or, go big and get noticed by stripping Viking Midges and Twerking Minnows around sunken logs and rocky ledges. Vary the depth and speed of retrieve until you find what’s triggering a response.