Bull Shoals Dam has been offering periods of minimum flow until 1pm, providing wade fishing opportunities upstream and downstream, and really productive fishing in a variety of locations. Adjusting to the low water after months of high water fishing injects a nice dose of subtlety and grace back into your fishing game – casting small dries and midges instead of big hoppers, mega nymphs, and streamers – it’s really nice sometimes to just slow down and cast.
Trout of various sizes, shapes, and colors are willing to take any number of midge imitations; some shop favorites are Ruby, Root Beer, and Redneck Midges, and of course Davy Wotton’s Whitetail and Super Midges. A fun way to present the midge is to dangle it a few feet under a smallish, easy to cast dry fly such as a Hippie Stomper or #12 Fat Albert. You’ll get some hits on your indicator fly in the process of tearing them up on midges. Tailwater Sowbugs have been a big producer as well and a good choice for sight fishing a picky fish or a fish cruising slow water edges. Wade fishermen standing in riffles on low water will do well swinging small Wooly Buggers, Tailwater Soft Hackles, and Cracklebacks.
The water starts rising quickly after 1pm, up to 17,000 or 18,000cfs, which sends a big mess of grass and leaves down the river, but behind the worst of the debris, fishing can get good again dredging San Juan Worms behind grass beds, flinging #8 Western Ladies and Psycho Ants against the banks, or stripping streamers off of ledges and drop-offs.
Norfork has been shut off until 1 or 2pm, offering yet more wade fishing opportunities. Try some small beetle and ant patterns just for fun, and then get your Root Beer midge and Hunchback Scud on your tippet, and get to catching. Cracklebacks and Griffith’s Gnats will take some fish pulled just under the surface.