Bull Shoals Dam has finally let loose, releasing 25,000cfs+ around the clock. All that volume, depth, and debris presents a considerable challenge to get flies in front of fish, but the fish still have to feed, and your fly fishing guide still knows how to catch them. Brightly colored flies (San Juan worms in pink, red, orange/large egg patterns/Cheetos/Blobs) that are easy to notice seem to be working best when fished with heavy split shot (3-4 BBs/1-2 AAAs) at depths of 10-12 feet. Fish can also be caught at lesser depths by fishing the slower currents of back eddies and side sloughs – large rubber leg nymphs are effective when fishing the steep undercut banks in such areas.
If you tire of picking the moss and debris of your flies, take refuge on Norfork, where a steady two units are pumping gin clear water, and fish are taking a variety of flies at depths of 6-9 feet. San Juan worms, eggs, Cheetos, Blobs are good for getting noticed and if not eaten then at least directing attention toward a second more subtle offering such as a DW Whitetail or Super midge, Hunchback Scud, Dally’s Tailwater Jig, or Pheasant Tail nymph.
If you tire of fishing deep in high water conditions, look to the warmwater tributaries and small Ozark streams inhabited by frisky native smallmouths and ravenous little sunfishes. There are miles upon miles of public water to be explored beyond the familiar haunts of Buffalo River and Crooked Creek. Do a little map research, buy a sturdy set of wading shoes, stock up on poppers, Hada’s Creek Crawler and Craft Fur Clouser, and some Rubberleg nymphs, and get your feet wet. There’s no better place to be when the weather gets hot.