Both rain and snow fell across the White River watershed early this week, bringing Bull Shoals Lake level just barely above power pool, which bodes well for streamer fishermen hoping for high flows. While the lake is not full enough to warrant ’round the clock heavy release, what we are seeing is the pulses of heavy flow are more consistent and lasting for more hours than in previous weeks, which is creating better conditions for streamer fishing.
We saw moderate and stable flow last weekend, and a return on Monday to the normal up and down pattern that is to be expected on winter weekdays. The range in flow over the past few days has been between 4,000cfs and 19,000cfs. Yesterday’s flow stayed between 15,000-17,000cfs all day, and today’s schedule is forecasting similar conditions until late morning, and then a drop down closer to 10,00cfs for the rest of today. It sure helps the streamer fishermen out when flows don’t drop down to minimum in-between pulses, staying high enough for fish to remain comfortable and in position to feed.
Weighted streamers are a good choice to get down quickly when flows are up around 15,000cfs and above, pushing hard against the banks. BFH Twerking Minnows, BFH Double Deceivers, White River Deceivers, Lovechild Sculpins, Big Johnsons, and Sex Dungeons would all be great choices for heavy flow. At more moderate flows around or either side of 10,000cfs, switch to unweighted Twerking Minnows, Double Deceivers, Modern Deceivers, Bangtails, and the like. CJ’s Sluggo and Lafkas’ Super Cougar are buoyant patterns great for fishing lower and slower water, or any situation where a little more “hang time” in the water column is desired.
Norfork is way up and way down, showing both ends of the spectrum from minimum flow to two units plus spillway release. Wade fishermen can still look to the ‘Fork for walk in access when flow is shut down, usually more common on warm afternoons and weekends. Minimum flow is best fished with egg patterns, Root Beer Midges, DW Whitetail Midges, Psycho Midges, and Hunchback Scuds. Big water, especially if spillways are open, would be a great time to fish shad patterns from a boat. Todd’s Wiggle Minnow, Meat Whistles, DW Threadfins, Puff Daddies, and Sparkle Minnows should all be effective shad patterns. We’re getting into the time of year when temperatures can get very cold and stay cold for days, which can kill shad in the lakes. Dead shad combined with heavy dam release in the mornings can create epic fishing for very short windows of time. These events, known as “shad kills” are notoriously hard to predict, so it’s best to carry shad patterns this time of year and be ready at a moment’s notice.