Getting Ready for the “Shad Kill”
Over the last week, I have been quite busy tending to my new boy and tying fly boxes that are being offered in my most recent newsletter. I haven’t had too many chances to get out and fish, but as I’m sure many of you have heard, the South is mired in cold temperatures right now. Although the frigid conditions make trout fishing a little uncomfortable, this recent snap should really get the shad coming through Bull Shoals, Norfork and Table Rock Dams. To learn more about the shad kill, check out this comprehensive article that I worked on with an associate: Understanding an Ozark Shad Kill. The heaviest shad kills occur below Bull Shoals Dam for a myriad of reasons, but all the other tailwaters can see an influx in shad from the lakes through mid-April. My favorite spots for taking advantage of this event are up by Bull Shoals Dam (which reopens in just three short weeks) and on the Norfork – on the ‘Fork, you never know what you might hook up with.
Water flows continue to be unpredictable on Lake Taneycomo, and recently the flows have been fluctuating between one and two units. Who knows when we will see prolonged low water? Still, fishing is great. Norfork and Bull Shoals Dams are operating at capacity right now, as they are just about done lowering those lakes. Once they draw the reservoirs down to power pool levels, there should be some wading water down in Arkansas. This could happen within a week on the Norfork – it’s only four feet high! The Corp can really dump a lot of water in a hurry. Bull Shoals still has eight feet to get rid of, and considering that Beaver Lake is still holding seven feet, it could take three weeks to a month before all of that gets sorted out on the White River Chain. If we can stay dry, there should be lots of wading on the Norfork over the next few months. I am excited about this prospect because the recent reports from fishing low water over there are fantastic.
Please drop me a line if you want more information on fishing the shad kill. This could be the best year in awhile for a prolonged kill, and the high numbers of big fish in both the rivers will make for some great memories. The first shad has not been officially sighted, but when the word gets out, I usually get very busy. I can say with a bit of confidence that there will be smatterings of shad come through over the remainder of January, and by the beginning of February, shad will come through the dams every time they run decent amounts of water. Hopefully, we will see a scenario where water levels fluctuate between high and low, as it can be tough when the shad come through heavy for weeks at a time during consistently high release periods. I like conditions that force the trout to be on the lookout for shad. Amazingly, I’ve seen shad pouring out of Bull Shoals Dam one minute, and then after they shut off the water, the fish started feeding heavily on scuds and midges right away. You never know what to expect during a shad kill.