It’s been a cold week in north Arkansas, with daytime highs not climbing out of the forties, and the first snow of the winter on the ground. Snow in this part of the world rarely accumulates more than an inch and melts quickly, so it’s brief presence as a thin white crust on the pastures and wooded hillsides is exciting and undeniably beautiful for residents and visitors alike. The cold weather eliminates even more fishing pressure from an uncrowded time on the area’s fisheries, providing a winter sportsman’s paradise, voided of competition. This weekend the weather should cooperate and provide some afternoons in the fifties with mild winds. Come and enjoy some solitude and reflection on the river – its wide open waters can absorb worries and troubles and replace them with a tight line and a bent rod.
Currently the general pattern of water release on both White and Norfork Tailwaters has been two large pulses of generation, one in the morning and one in the evening, with periods of minimum flow in between. Today’s SWPA projection however, shows Norfork shutting off at 11am, White shutting off at 1pm, and neither tailwater running any more water the rest of the day. WADE FISHERMEN, there are some awesome, low fishing pressure opportunities for you right now, you just need to plan ahead and pay attention. Just because the water is down doesn’t mean it won’t come back up in the same day. The upper river (closer to the dam) will drop out first, but will also refill with water first, once generators come back on. Bull Shoals State Park would be an ideal walk-in access, as would Gaston’s resort, or Three Chutes off of Denton Ferry Road. Norfork is walk-in accessible at Quarry Park and Ackerman. If you’re thinking of crossing the river channel, keep in mind the water could be coming up again, and you should not assume that the timing will follow the SWPA projection. Don’t trust the projection and be responsible for your own safety.
Periods of low water are best fished with light weight strike indicators like the stick on variety, and an assortment of small nymphs, midges, and crustaceans. Modestly weighted Hare’s Ear nymphs, Pheasant Tails, Iron Lotus, and Micro Mayflies are great mayfly nymph imitations. Ruby, Root Beer, Redneck, and DW Super or Whitetail midges should cover the bases. Hunchback Scuds, DW Sowbugs, and Tailwater Sowbugs should be deadly. If all else fails, swing Tailwater Soft Hackles and small Wooly Buggers across moving water.
Periods of high flow provide opportunities to chuck some meat. Try indicator fishing with large egg and worm patterns, or dead baitfish imitations like Meat Whistle, AR Beadhead, Flesh Flies, and Sparkle Minnows. If you’re a streamer junkie, aggressively strip Double Deceivers, Modern Deceivers, Twerking Minnows, Big Johnsons, and Bangtails.