General Fly Fishing Report
October 1, 2010
The fall transition is making for
up and down fly fishing in the Ozarks
Night trips are 4 hours in duration and begin one hour after the water shuts down at Table Rock Dam. Outings typically start between 10pm to 12am. I really only like to take skilled anglers to keep the trip more productive so casting a fly rod is a must. If you can really control the cast and shot line you will have a better trip then tangling all night. I don’t use glow in the dark strike indicators. It’s all by feel and swing streamers.
When flows exceed the two-unit level on upper Lake Taneycomo, and it looks like moderate to heavy water is likely all day, I would prefer to just offer half-day trips. This change in policy is reflective of the fact that there are only three good spots accessible by drift boat during really high water.
Fall is an interesting season fly fishing in the Ozarks because there is so much going on with regards to diversified angling opportunities. The White River, Norfork Tailwater and Lake Taneycomo are all in good shape and there are plenty of really good fish out there for the taking…when they decide to really start biting. Unlike any other seasonal transition, the early stages of fall conditions on these rivers can often throw the fish into a funk.
This is typically a result of changes in water flow, dropping oxygen levels and the fact that many of the really big trout are on the move – feeding is often the last thing on their mind, but you never know when you may chance into a trophy fish that happens to cruise into your area.
Compared to years past, dissolved oxygen levels are relatively high for the first of October. It’s such a relief to see the Corp of Engineers doing everything within their power to keep the rivers fresh (DO above 4ppm). This is all I ever I’ve asked for, and for decades, fish suffered on Taneycomo and the Norfork for no real reason. But the times are changing for the better, as low dissolved oxygen was the Achilles Heel of these two fisheries up until recently. Currently, the worst water is at night when the rivers are low. Norfork Dam will “pulse” the river by releasing a small amount of water for one hour when levels drop below 4ppm and Table Rock is equipped to pump liquid oxygen into the tailwater, which can really change the fishing in a hurry. This is why drift fishing is hot on Taneycomo, but low-water wading has been a bit hit or miss depending on the prevailing conditions.
Where to Fish When
the Bite is Inconsistent
I’ve been primarily guiding on Lake Taneycomo of late and the bite has been inconsistent. When the wind chop is right or a generator or two is running, it’s possible to hammer some decent fish, but if the river is slick, things have been a bit slower than I would like. That said, some browns are starting to show up below the dam, and there are reports floating around that detail some big fish encounters. It’s all about being at the right place at the right time during the fall transition, and the weather, scenery and good flow regimes have made for many enjoyable days on the water of late. Sure, there have been some slow periods, but considering that oxygen levels are in really good shape, there is no doubt in my mind that the best of autumn fishing is just around the corner.
My guiding schedule has been really hectic of late, and I’ve got a case of “lunker fever”, so I’m spending a lot of free time throwing flies in areas where I know some hogs are concentrated. Most of my personal fishing has been at night, and this is the time of year when ‘fishing by the lights of the dam’ can pay off in a big way. Although my guide days are starting to fill in for this month (but there are still some good spots available), my nights are wide open. Feel free to give me a call if you want to discuss night fishing in greater detail.
As far as I know, I’m the only guide offering midnight float trips in Missouri and Arkansas, and believe me; the experience of drifting the rivers in the dark is unforgettable.
I’ll be out on the water for the next three days, so look for a report next week. Also, the newsletter and a new article will be coming out soon. Both of these pieces are educational and informative. It’s been a great year so far from a professional and fishing perspective, and truly, the best may be yet to come. Try and make time to visit the Ozarks this October or November for the opportunity to get in on some of the best trophy fishing we’ve seen in years. Fall is always a magical time, so don’t miss out.
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