We are a month away from the official start to spring in the Ozarks but not so as you would notice.
Heat, rain, thunder and lightning, wind and daffodils blooming on the banks, and shad rolling from the dam, even a late night tornado siren all bring thoughts of emergent spring to hand. Brown trout have been popping, no matter how you are choosing to pursue them.
Streamers aficionados are getting their line stretched on hungry predator fish, fishing the tailwaters deep below a bobber with shad patterns is entertaining quite a few, while folks wanting to cover some territory are running close into the banks with shallow shad patterns.
If you haven’t booked your spring fishing trips, now is the time to jump on it before most of the best dates are filled out. Who knows when the shad will taper off, and the caddis arrive. The warm winter could trigger an early caddis bite.
On the other hand, the USACE is forecasting the flood pool on the White and Norfork to be cleared over the first weekend of March, barring no more rain.
The shad kill has been the dominant factor on the White, as schools of shad arrive at Bull Shoals Dam on the lake side, and get pulled through the generators. It’s not a constant flow, harder to predict but if you are in the right place at the right time it has been delivering awesome fishing.
While everyone likes the shallow bite with surface flies and droppers but the deep game has been the best bet, with shad down in the water column. Grab some split shot or try heavy Mop Jigs, Good Friday Shad, Jig Sparkle Minnows or white bugger jigs are a solid bet, trailed by AR Beadheads or unweighted marabou shad.
Similar rigs run shallower in tight on the banks has been working as well.
The consistent higher flows of the last week or more have the predator brown trout feeling nicely at home. Sluggo’s have been a standout this year in both sizes, as to the reliable 6″ Double Deceiver .
Smoke /White Twerking Minnows, smaller Sluggo’s and white Viking Midges are have all been attracting attention in the upper River. Cloudier flows downstream look at brighter, or flashier patterns like Olive/Yellow or Olive/White Twerking Minnows, Chartruese or Yellow Sluggo’s and Chartruese White Double Deceivers
Norfork has been in fine shape, and has it’s own shad kill in bursts, similarly to the White, its been a deep game. Run similar heavy mop jigs and others.
For the remainder deep drifting Sunday Specials, Tailwater Jigs, Lightning Bug Jigs, Ruby Midges in combination with egg patters have been the go to.
Weighted streamer patterns have their place, olive sculpins, ungeons, Circus Peanuts and Cheech’s Leech have had their moments.
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