The lower levels of rain fall this past few months has more or less kept the lakes at pool levels, all be it we have seen some days of very high generation for the most part its been low levels of generation with days or periods of zero generation which has been great for days out there on the river. I have fished this year from Bull Shoals dam down to Shipps Ferry, all of which have produced some very good fish number days, particularly the upper sections of the river from Wildcat to the dam so far as good numbers of Browns in the 16 to 25 ins range.
Norfork is holding good numbers of average size fish at this time, Browns, Bows and Cutts, Brooks are hard to find nowadays. In fact l saw only 1 Brook caught at Bull shoals last year and that was a great day for my customer as he had to the best of my knowledge the only grand slam for the White.
Lake temps are good, not the typical low 40s, even so we have seen some good shad kills during the very high water generations and if you were there the bite was real good.
So what are we looking toward through March into April.
I have already seen some sparse hatches of caddis, l would predict we will see as we have this past few years enormous caddis hatches providing us with some of the best topwater fly fishing you will find any place else. Hopefully we will expect to see larger numbers of hatch mid March and from then on if the warm weather holds up.I am expecting it to be awesome fishing once again this year.
Best options as of now will include during generated water drift fishing lower water flows. Dead drift using combinations of white tail and prism midges, sowbugs in gray and tan, scuds in gray and olive, micro prism worms, soft hackles green and cream rock worms. If there is any evidence of fish interest to caddis then DW SLF trans caddis pupa, elk hair caddis, Davy’s caddis, hares ear and green tail soft hackles. Wet flies would include Invicta, Wickhams, Hares ear, March Brown, Woodcock and Hares ear or green.
For wade anglers fishing the White all the above will work. Add to that if fishing Bull shoals, Wildcat and other low water zones smaller midge pupa and midge emergers in sizes 16 to 22 to 5 or 6x. In the case of midge pupa have with you bead head versions of zebra and prism in colors of red, black, tan, gray with beads heads in different colors, copper, silver, nickel being the best choices. Small soft hackles and drys such as Adams are also good bets.
The above will also apply for Norfork when fishing low water conditions.
If they do run a high water flush then opt to fish some kind of shad imitation, a very good chance to nail one of the few big browns that have as yet have not moved downstream from the dam zones.
It will also be worth to drift line the banks with large streamers which has been for some very productive with a number of fish in the 25 to 30ins size range.
Tight lines all-