2014 Norkfork’s October Brown Trout Run

Reports From The Field - Flys

December 9, 2014


2014 Norkfork’s October Brown Trout Run
December 9, 2014

2014 Norkfork’s October Brown Trout Run – My thoughts in comparison…..

For those who know me I’ve really been hyping this river up since they implemented the siphon a few years back. It’s really improved this fishery in a big way. I really think the Norfork fishing experience is where you can get the most variety. This river is hard to beat compared to the other trout fisheries we have in the Ozark’s. It really stores a lot of browns that are easier to search out because it’s not as big as the White River and it’s not like Taneycomo where the only good water is the first four miles up top. Even though the Norfork is the same in miles as the good water we have at Taneycomo, its structured entirely different with a lot of shoals and pocket water that trout love to hold in. It’s a skinny river and when the water is off you will really need a canoe, kayak, or drift boat to navigate it without tearing your boat up.

What I wanted to do during this year’s brown run was commit to this river and skip Taneycomo all together, except for just a few trips I already had on the calendar. Lake Taneycomo and Norfork browns spawn is at the same time.  I was curious to see what this river holds, in the way of bigger browns this time of year.  Since I wasn’t too optimistic about Taneycomo’s run in recent years. I was eager to do something different, not only for me, but for my client’s. I wanted to run more trips at night, but have at least one day where I could see if they were shifting or staying in the same areas. Most the trips I ran in October were three days trips. That way we had some options. One thing I will emphasize on is please don’t fish on redds. There is plenty of water to fish besides stalking spawning fish on redds and fishing on one for hours just to get them to hit just seems like cheating and desperation. You’ll feel better that you did it the right way instead of the wrong way in the long run.

For the most part we had low water at night and some during the day. My goal was to get some morning action in and then spend most of the time at night. What I noticed on this river verses Taney is there is no easy way to approach these trout during the day like Taneycomo. These fish don’t have outlets to feed under and get fooled by scuds washing up, nor do they have the same water when it’s off.

The water on the fork is much more shallow. A lot of the areas where the browns were, was so skinny I couldn’t believe they were even making redds, but that was where they found the best gravel with good flowing current.  In my opinion, that brings catastrophic damage to the redds because they are more exposed to wading boots and boats hitting the bottom of the river.

The really cool thing about this tailwater is most fly fisherman leave the redds alone. It has earned that respect, I wish I could say that about Taneycomo, but it’s a different fishery and it brings out more of the trout park mentality. Arkansas doesn’t have trout parks and a large number of the people who live and fish those parks are staying in Missouri.

Often, what people see is what people do, so you can’t blame them for not knowing. The browns on the Norfork stay hunkered down and are not interested in feeding for the most part. It’s a real challenging and humbling experience in that aspect. Night fishing was a little better with mostly all browns being caught. We didn’t catch anything enormous, but we did stay active, all in all I would fish this river again during the run, but only at night running streamers.

The most damaging thing I noticed this year was in what the corp. did when issues arose with the siphon. Unfortunately, for about two weeks out of the month the corp. attempted to create the same spawning habitat during the breakdown.  They tried to run the same water through the turbines to compensate but at times did not generate water at all.

This river cannot take that type of punishment and for it to happen during the peak of the spawn made it even more devastating.  For those trout that had already made redds they didn’t have a chance when the water was not at its proper river flow. The locals barked and were able to be heard and the corp. started generating right, but I believe it was too late.  During that time I could see lots of browns with their backs out of the water when they weren’t generating, but they were committed on staying on their redds. What trout do to bring new life in the river is just remarkable if you ask me.

The Norfork has to have minimal flow to thrive and bring fish in and to want to stay or they will simply leave and find better water. I’m sure when this happened the fish became stressed and their eggs were exposed to little or no water in some areas. So in my opinion, it was not a successful spawn this year.  In a nutshell, this river just doesn’t need attention during the run.  I think next year I will leave it alone and the fish do what fish do.

If you would like to know more about fishing on Lake Taneycomo or Norfork in Arkansas and how they work well during certain times of the year you can send me a email directly to [email protected] if you are interested in booking a guide trip. Feel free to visit us on Facebook, If you really liked this article, +1 above – check us out at +flysandguides (Google+) or send us a tweet with a question or just to say hi. Check out the Fly of the Month!

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