Bull Shoals Dam continues to release relatively little water, extending some killer caddis fishing into June, while holding back the rapidly swelling Bull Shoals Lake. There’s only seven feet remaining in Bull Shoals ‘flood pool,’ and the lake has been rising nearly a foot every two days. That means that within two weeks there’s likely to be drastic changes in the scheduled flow of the tailwater. Today’s SWPA projection shows zero generation until 1p.m., and then heavy generation the rest of the afternoon. Whether or not the zero part actually happens is anyone’s guess, but it’s a sign that we should maybe start expecting some heavy flow for a while, at least in the afternoons to begin with.
There’s been a ton of low, clear water lately, igniting good caddis hatches even on cloudy days. A number of different caddis nymphs are working great, including Pupae Delectae, Caddistrophic Pupae, Jigged Caddis Pupae, and Rob’s Realistic Caddis. Midges are also strong especially early in the day before the caddis get to hatching in big numbers – Root Beer, Ruby, and Redneck midges are great in low flows, as are #18 Whitetail midges, Psycho midges, and #18 Tailwater Jigs. Caddis dry flies are a fun way to sight cast to rising fish or just prospect a good drift down a bank; the favorites have been E/C and E/Z caddis, as well as Slow Water caddis and Wotton’s Skating caddis. It’s possible that low water conditions could continue, at least in the mornings, for a few more days or longer as the lake continues to fill up, but get your low water caddis fishing fix while you can, cause it ain’t here much longer.
If the water does indeed get up high this afternoon like the projection calls for, and if heavy flow becomes a regular or even standard occurrence on the White in the near future, then it will be time to switch right into the summertime repertoire of bugs to fish. Hopefully the first bug of summer is the Sulfur Mayfly, #14-16, which usually follows close behind our caddis hatch and can provide great opportunities for quality brown trout. Lots of different nymphs come into play with the mayfly hatch, but some old faithfuls like Pheasant Tails and Hare’s Ear nymphs are a solid place to start. A little box of Parachute Sulfur dry flies and a tube of floatant will be handy possessions when the yellow bugs are flying. Big terrestrial dry flies are worth trying all summer long, even as early as June, and a trusty local favorite is a pink Western Lady. When there’s no hatch and dry flies aren’t getting a sniff, fish summertime high water with big meaty offerings like Rubberleg Jig, or Mega Worms, or streamers.
Norfork is still shut down until noon most days, making for some great morning wade fishing sessions. Sunday Specials, Hare’s Ear nymphs, Root Beer midges, Whitetail midges, Hunchback Scuds, and E/C Caddis are all taking fish on the drift. Wotton’s Emergent Caddis, Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackle, and Wotton’s Juicer are fun on a gentle swing. The afternoon high water on the Norfork is fishing great as well, with big split shot and Blobs or Mega Worms.