Unseasonably warm temperatures early this week made for some comfortable outside time, something unexpected for early January. One might expect low water during such a warm spell, but a swelling Bull Shoals Lake has the powers that be feeling generous with their distribution of water. The river has been up more than down over the first half of the week, and with the next cold front pushing in we’re likely to see the river full bank to bank for a few days if not longer.
Today’s SWPA projection shows 210mwh all day on the White and 80mwh all day on the Norfork – in other words, steady high water. Stable conditions, especially high and stable flows, often produce remarkable fishing. The longer the river stays deep and swift, the more fish stack up on bank structure, eddies, and inside gravel bars. Trout feed and grow in these conditions, and are more readily fooled on meaty offerings like worms, baitfish, and long full profile streamers.
Speaking of streamers, Chad Johnson’s streamer class is on time this weekend with a cold drizzly day forecasted Saturday. If the generation holds and we get high water, things could be setting up for very effective practice session Saturday afternoon.
Read on for specifics on flows and flies.
Flows are at 15,000cfs and higher round the clock for the time being. Hopefully the high water holds through the weekend to give us good conditions for our streamer class on Saturday. The time to start casting 5-7 inch per second sink tips is now. Big hungry post spawn browns should be setting up to feed in all this heavy flow, and will take a swipe at full profile streamers. We’re talking Double Deceivers weighted or not – try different levels of the water column, Modern Deceivers, Viking Midges, Sluggos, Twerking Minnows, Super Cougars, Game Changers and all the other flies that cast a long shadow. Big bait for a big fish baby. If 8weight rods and heavy sink tips aren’t your cup of tea, stick to nymphing, but use a 6weight or a 10ft rod or something that can deliver heavy split shot and a big San Juan worm or AR Beadhead on a long leader. You could just as easily find your trophy on the dead drift.
Two units round the clock means deep and swift water. Dredge the gravel bars with San Juan worms, egg patterns, AR Beadheads, and Sparkle Minnows with plenty of weight and a big bobber. Or if you prefer to strip, throw Viking Midges, Ice Picks, Lovechild Sculpins and DD’s tight to structure in fast water or deep near the bottom of slow pools.