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Welcome to the New Year from Arkansas' White River and Norfork Tailwaters! It's amazing what a difference a year makes on these ever-changing tailwaters. If you were lucky enough to be here last year this time you know what a great run it was for streamer fishing. We experienced super high and around the clock flows along with many days of overcast skies that resulted in numerous trophy browns to the net. Fast forward to the present and the conditions are drastically different. Bull Shoals Lake above the White River is significantly low, almost 10' below power pool, which is a result of little precipitation during the last quarter of '16. The latest flow "trends" are generally low with the exception of a potential high pulse release mid morning, which only lasts a few hours, followed by the return of much lower flows in the 2-3K cfs range. In most cases this translates to deciding the choice of river selection for the morning and perhaps another for the afternoon. Given those circumstances, anglers need to develop a game plan of how to maximize a productive day on the river. Although there may be a few instances for big streamers, don't leave home with out your midge rods! On the lower to moderate flows it's not uncommon to catch a boat load of rainbows utilizing nymphing techniques with a combination of midges, scuds, or sowbugs. The brown trout spawn seems to be winding down so egg patterns in a variety of colors are productive as well. There may still be activity on the redds so be cautious not to disturb.
The Norfork Lake remains somewhat high although still 4-5' below power pool. Traditionally the Norfork offers more wadable opportunities than the White but that is currently not the case as generation can be heavy for 1/2 or more of the day during peak electric demand. Should you have the means to float the Norfork on one unit or less, the quality of fishing can be stellar. On minimum flow one can be successful with small (#18-#22) midges, scuds, and sowbugs. Soft hackles, griffith's gnats, and cracklebacks is nice way to mix it up in the afternoons should the sun be out in calm conditions.
Stop by the shop for great advice, a stellar selection of locally tied bugs at a great price, and shuttle service. Not to mention lodging across the street at Cotter Trout Lodge and dining at the White Sands Restaurant... your one stop fly fishing destination outfitter.
January 6th, 2016