Shad Kill April 2020
Water Conditions – April
Beaver Tailwater– Current Lake Level 1128.38 / Normal Power Pool 1120.43
Beaver Lake is up 7.95 feet and barely dropping. This seems to be the “new” trend for how they store water in Beaver lake. This new pattern trend has been in place going on a year now from what I can see. There seems to be no hurry in dropping Beaver anymore and in return we see a lot more flood gate water these days. I wish I had a real answer on why the Corp is releasing it this way, but I don’t. Beaver can only store 10 feet of water above power pool and max power pool is 1130. If we get a two inch rain it puts Beaver in a situation to run flood gate water every time. Rule of thumb is a inch of rain usually raises the lake a foot so I don’t understand why they don’t get rid of more water during the rainy months. My only guess is they want more water these days going into the summer months so they have enough water to drain if they sell power. I’m just not use to seeing this pattern so it has me guessing. The good news is Beaver still has low water more than any other tailwater when the lakes get full and since Beaver is the first to start the White River basin, the Corp doesn’t use this dam as a way to dump to control flood water as it does using Table Rock dam.
Table Rock Lake – Current Lake Level 917.87 / Normal Power Pool 915.0 / Top Power Pool 931.0
Table Rock is actually in good shape as far as the lake level. It’s only up a few feet, but remember we still have almost 8 feet to get rid of out of Beaver. With that being said, I’m not sure what Beaver plans to do with how they want to hold or release their water, but if I had my guess we should start seeing lower generation once they get back down to 915.0. The only reason why this will probably not happen is, you guessed it, more rainfall. That is what upsets a lot of wade fisherman. Taneycomo never sees low water anymore because of how they keep storing the water in Beaver. It also seems that Table Rock has all four generators going which means they finally fixed the one that has been down for a while. They also have two flood gates releasing another 3,000 cfs. So total cubic feet per second right now that is dumping into Bull Shoals is roughly 16,000.
Bull Shoals Lake – Current Lake Level 683.24 / Normal Power Pool 659.0 / Top Power Pool 695.0
Bull Shoals is up 24 feet above where they are at normal power pool. Bull Shoals can store 36 feet of water above power pool so they can store another 12 feet. They’re not in the worst of shape, but they are also not in the clear. Since it’s the biggest dam with eight generators, they can dump 24,000 cfs and 16 flood gates, the only threat they have is flooding below Calico and Newport. A lot of people get confused when they dump big water for long periods of time and then all the sudden they drop it down to minimal flow. That’s due to flooding at Newport. If we get a bunch of rain in a day or overnight on top of releasing a ton of water it creates a bad scenario for the farmers downstream. The good news is we have enough water to have great hopper fishing, streamer fishing going into the summer months.
Norfork Lake – Current Lake Level 570.26 / Normal Power Pool 553.75 / Top Power Pool 580.0
Norfork is up 16.51 feet and can store another 9.74, but because they are not a chain of the White River basin the only run off they get is from North Fork of the White located in Tecumseh, Missouri. Right now the NFOW water level as far a cfs is 1,280. Usually normal is anywhere from 450 to 800 for ideal conditions to float. So not far off from being able to float this river, but more rain can delay this and the focus really is getting the low water back on the Norfork tailwater. This usually is the first one to start seeing lower flows out of the tailwaters we have in the Ozark’s. As of right now, it’s not in good shape at all as far as wading and I don’t like fishing it when they are either running two generators ( which is all they have) or have flood gates running. Right now they are running three flood gates and one generator pushing roughly 2,700 cfs with the one unit and 2,800 using the flood gates. That means they are using flood gate water to equivalent the cfs they would get from the other unit that is either offline or broke, which I’m going to say is down for maintenance.
White River – Shad Kill
Where do I start and what do I say. Words can’t describe this 2020 year so far of shad kills. A lot of this is due to heavy steady generation and being at the right place at the right time was the biggest key to success. I already fished a big shad kill in September 2019 that lasted about three weeks that was truly epic.
The saying you should’ve been there, well, that doesn’t hold a candle to what just happened the last few weeks below Bull Shoals. We actually caught one of the biggest brown’s I’ve had the opportunity to land below the dam ever, it was definitely over 30 inches that one of my long time clients Scott caught on March 26th.
It was truly a different experience than your typical shad kills. What was different about this one was they went from running 15,000 cfs to dropping it completely out to 4,000 and because we were right below the dam, we saw the drop fast and so did the fish.
If you could imagine not seeing any shad, but still dead drifting Wiggle Minnows or Arkansas Beadheads and catching fish, but nothing crazy, just enough to keep it fun and let the customers experience this bite. The difference with this one verses any others I’ve fished was that fast drop and seeing trout crushing the top like they were slamming some sort of big dry fly.
Because there was so much depth and the shad were deep to where we couldn’t see them we had no idea how prolific the kill really was until the drop. Once the water got shallow and the current stopped pushing so much, you could see shad everywhere and so could the fish.
I’ve never seen anything like it. The fish became stupid and feeding aggressively which in return made them become easier to catch because of the feeding frenzy. These fish were taking total advantage of this bite and so did the fisherman who were up there. There were five other guides fishing and everyone was doubled up. We just got lucky catching the big one. I’m sure other people did, as well; but I’m sure this was the biggest caught that day.
My dad always told me a long time ago, you’re only has good as your last day, so you have to be out there as much as you can to catch these monsters. They don’t come easy, but when there’s a bite like this you have a good chance at catching something special.
Scott built a house on the White so it couldn’t have happen to a better person for sure.
With that being said, the bite continued to be good until a few days ago when they cut the flood gates off.
Of course I had to change it up and I’ve been trying out some new variations of shad patterns and man…..has it been good.
Almost too good to be honest. All I know is the people that got to experience this will never forget it and neither will I.
I would love to tell you my secrets, but I just can’t be that guy on this particular bite.
I’m usually the one that spills the beans, but I’m onto something and I don’t believe nobody is doing what I’m doing.
I watch people and see how they fish and the way we have been doing has been the difference on hooking regular fish verses these bigger rainbows and not just a few a day, I’m saying a bunch.
We only took pictures of rainbows that were twenty inches or bigger.
Another one of my long term clients named Kyran who just bought property at White Hole spent a month fishing with me.
He got to fish several ways, from streamer fishing to caddis fishing when we had those lower flows to the shad kill bite, this guy had the best month he has ever had fishing with me.
This fishery is really becoming the best it has ever been.
If you don’t think these new regulations are working, book a trip with me and you’ll see what I’m talking about.
To be continued
Caddis Fishing is Heating Up
The few days we started seeing low water when they couldn’t generate big flow we decided to go down below Cane Island and see how the caddis bite was doing. This was April 1st to be exact and we were fishing in 5,000 cfs. This was probably the first week that I really saw caddis starting to be an abundant which is what we need to get the brown’s targeting these bugs.
It took about an hour to get the bite dialed in, but once we did we started hooking brown’s. I think we boated around twelve with five or so in the 18 to 20 inch range, the rest were smaller with a few rainbows in the mix, but this bite is only going to get better through the month of May.
It was too early to really start fishing up top so I stay on the pupa, but now the top will start heating up, but I really don’t like fishing the dry unless I get lower flows. You just catch more brown’s on the bottom verses the top in my host opinion. Since I’m stuck at home missing out on trips because I can’t lodge in Arkansas after coming back into Missouri, I have had to cancel trips. The positive is more work getting done on the website. I hope to get my first newsletter out as well so if you haven’t signed up, make sure you do!!
I hope everyone is staying safe out there. If you lost loved ones or know someone who has, let’s keep them in our prayers and we are all in this together for sure. I’m sure we are all losing money, but I hope we can all pull ourselves out of this one. Scary world out there and just goes to show how fragile we really are as a nation.