Fall weather has finally arrived. Mornings on the river are a chilly experience, but beautifully crisp and refreshing after a hot humid September. A dense white fog clings to the river valley most mornings, turning a glowing orange hue as the sun burns through it. The visual experience from a boat on the water can be surreal when the fog obscures the banks of the river and navigational landmarks, muddling one’s orientation and sense of space. It might seem during moments of poor visibility as though one is traveling across a vast and edgeless body of water, only to be surprised the next moment by the approach of a dock or island or another boat.
By mid afternoon the temperature can still reach into the seventies and eighties, even if the day started in the thirties or forties, and so an effective wardrobe for outdoor activities actually requires a bit of thought for this season. Base layers of light wool are too warm on sunny afternoons and are best reserved for late fall and winter temps. Instead wear the lightweight Simms UPF summer clothes as the first layer so you can strip down to that layer when it gets warm out. Stay warm for the morning session with Simms Coldweather pants and shirts, Simms Fall Run jackets and vests, and stay dry with Simms Gore Tex shell jackets.
The change in the weather will soon by accompanied by a change in the water. Lake elevations have been steadily dropping all summer and are now just 2 feet over power pool at Bull Shoals and 3 feet over pool at Norfork. When the lake elevations hit power pool in a few days’ time, we will almost certainly see a degree of reduction in dam release. The question is – will the new release pattern be one of rising water and falling water? Or will the steady consistent flow continue but at a lower volume? Either way there will soon be at least some periods of relatively shallower and slower water, which should be welcome news to wade fishermen and those that have been pulling the oars through big water all summer long.
For now the river continues to roll along at 13,000-14,000cfs, and the fishing remains steady against the banks with #8-#6 foam dries (Wiley’s Ant, Fat Albert, Western Lady) early and late in the day, large rubber legged nymphs (Flexi Stone, Sexi Stone) against the banks mid-day, and deep drifted San Juan Worms (red, pink) trailed by a bead head nymph (Dally’s Tailwater Jig, DW’s Super Midge #14, Jigged Pheasant Tail) over gravel bars and flooded grass. Stripping Cone Head Wooly Buggers across the eddies behind boulders and logs can be a fun game to play for a change of pace.
For now flow continues at a partial unit, allowing for some limited boat and wading access, but mostly by boat. Fishing is fairly consistent with egg patterns (peach, orange, pink), midges (Ruby, Redneck, DW Pearl Whitetail), San Juan worms (red, pink), and Hunchback scuds (olive, tan, orange).