Beautiful weather and great fishing are abundant in our neck of the woods. Daily highs have been in the upper eighties with a light breeze and occasional clouds, and that appears to be the forecast through the upcoming weekend. Late summer is often very dry in the Ozarks, but last week’s rains have kept the area green and lush. The insects in the trees and shrubs along the river’s edge are still loud and active, plopping into the water now and then to feed a hungry trout.
Fishing is highly productive on the Bull Shoals tailwater right now, despite constantly changing water conditions. The minimum flow morning and high water afternoon pattern was standard for a few days, but on Wednesday the low water period was closer to 2,500cfs, and today the low water period was around 5,000cfs. In the afternoon, the water rises up to at least 12,000cfs and as much as 16,000cfs. The fish are still biting every day though. Catching them is just a matter of making adjustments to match the changing water levels.
Midges have been the most productive thing going in low flow, especially DW Super and Whitetail midges, Ruby, and Redneck midges. Fish them in tandem with Tailwater Jigs, Devil Jigs, or drop them off the back of a hopper as an indicator. Effective dry flies in low water include #10 Chernobyl Ants, #10 Bionic Ants, #10 More-or-Less Hoppers, and #12 Hippie Stompers.
In higher flow, larger dry flies like #8-#6 Fat Alberts and Western Ladies can still work, but if they’re not, switch to nymphing with Girdle Bugs and Rubberleg Jigs, trailed by a #14 Tailwater Jig. San Juan worms in pink, red, and natural have been highly effective in high water, fished deep with split shot. Rubberleg Wooly Buggers and Mini Dungeons are nice streamer choices for twitching behind boulders and submerged trees.
Those looking for a nice wading experience should wet wade gently into the warm waters of Crooked Creek, and toss #8 Boogle Bugs into shady pockets for spunky panfish and bass.