Norfork Fishing Report
March 20, 2010
Low water and hot fishing combine to make for a memorable Sow Bug Roundup Weekend
It seems like I am never fully prepared to make that transition in my life from the slow pace of winter to the hectic business of spring – all off a sudden I will be consumed by work after months of very little activity. It feels great to be spending a lot of time on the water recently, and there is nothing better than having a somewhat full guiding schedule ahead when the fishing is this good.
I found myself in Arkansas the last two days taking part in the annual Sow Bug Roundup in Mountain Home. This event is basically a regional ‘convention’ with many speakers, guides, fly tiers, retailers and wholesalers showing off their wares. I always meet such great people, and it is always nice to reconnect with longstanding acquaintances. The water was low for the entire day on both the White and Norfork both yesterday and today – Bull Shoals surged the water for an hour Friday morning and since then, the generators have been off. This is the first time in quite awhile that low water and the Sow Bug Roundup have come together on the same weekend, and almost everyone was reported very productive fishing.
Because they ran water for one hour during the morning on Friday, I decided to take my clients far downstream from the dam so that we could enjoy steady water for the majority of the day.
Rim Shoals seemed like as good a spot as any to try, and the water was likely going to be low. These clients of mine have gained a bit of a local reputation for the exuberance they express after each fish they catch. It is all in good fun, and in no way are they trying to show anyone up. Rather, they just really enjoy catching trout, and they definitely do not mind expressing themselves. There were many opportunities to hoot and holler for my clients on this first of two guided days, as the fish were aggressively feeding from start to finish.
I would guess that triple-digit numbers were brought to hand, including an 18-inch brown hooked right above the main shoal. Midges were the most productive patterns, but Miracle Flies also worked well – honestly, any number of flies would have produced when the fishing is this hot. Even though the water was low, we did all of our fishing from the drift boat. I did have to pull up around the main islands at the end of the day, but it was worth this extra effort to get a large expanse of water to ourselves.
After Friday’s success, this morning (Saturday) we decided to give Rim Shoals another try. We did not start until noon because I had to give my streamer presentation at the Sowbug Roundup in the morning.
There were quite a few fly anglers taking advantage of the great wading conditions, but since low water could be found virtually everywhere on the White and Norfork, everyone stayed pretty spread out.
One of the guys pulled in a 19-inch brown on our way down, and the other client landed a 21-incher below the shoal. Like the day before, we caught fish pretty much at will, and these will be two days of fishing that will not soon be forgotten. We had noticed several “golden” trout here and there over the two days on the White, and one of the guys desperately wanted to land one of these hatchery mutants. On the last cast of the trip, he got his golden trout, and that completed his unconventional trout fishing “grand slam” – a rainbow, a brown, a cutthroat and a golden all landed on the same day.
We have had a little bit of rain recently, but the lakes are still holding steady. Fishing rarely gets much better than it is right now, so if you get some free time over the next few weeks, definitely try and get to the Ozarks for some fly fishing. The rivers are in great shape, and it is obvious that spring is just around the corner.
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