Warm weather and overcast skies combined over the last week for some spectacular fishing in the Ozarks. Explosions of caddis continue up and down the Bull Shoals tailwater. Perhaps the warm but not too bright conditions were exactly what’s needed to extend the caddis hatch through the end of May, or perhaps the hatch is lasting longer as a result of an increasing caddis population – these are merely guesses – but there’s no guesswork in the fact that the fish are fattening up and gaining weight by gorging on caddis day after day.
There’s has been alot more water released in the White River tailwater over the last 48 hours than anything released in the past week, which might signal a shift in the pattern of the generation schedule in the near future. Today’s flow will likely be a little under 10,000cfs in the morning and rising to well above the 10,000cfs mark. With the lake level as high as it is, it would not be surprising if this is the start of a new flow pattern that includes alot of sustained volume in the river.
Caddis will likely continue to hatch for a little while even if the water is a little higher, so there will likely continue to be alot of great nymphing with caddis pupae imitations like Jiggy Caddis, Fat Cadass, Jig Prince, going on for some time. But the coming of consistent high water can open up options in the early season terrestrial department, like big dries. #10 Fat Alberts and Western Ladies are usually a fun pattern to start prospecting the summer bite with.
In recent years, the start of June has shown us good hatches of sulfur mayflies. If we’re lucky this year, then as the caddis bite dies out, the mayfly bite will slide in to take its place, with an easy transition from caddis nymphs and dries to mayfly nymphs and dries. Pheasant Tail nymphs and Hare’s Ear nymphs are effective and familiar mayfly nymphs to start prospecting the mayfly bite.
Norfork has been shut off in the mornings, offering half a day’s wade fishing access at Quarry Park or Ackerman Access. Prospecting riffles on low water with bushy little dries like Elkhair and Razor Caddis and Griffith’s Gnat can be really fun. Finesse nymphing with Sunday Specials, Ron’s Crusty, Root Beer midges and Super midges can be highly effective. Swinging Tailwater Soft Hackles, Wotton’s Emergent Caddis, or small wooly buggers can work well.
On smallmouth streams like Crooked Creek and Buffalo River, consistent rainfall and flow has fed the bass a steady diet of minnows, crayfish, and whatever other small creatures wash out of stream beds across the Ozarks. Some fat and beautiful native smallmouth have been falling lately for a few streamer patterns like Polar Changers and Finesse changers especially in white and chartreuse.