“Insights and Updates on Fishing Conditions: Caddis Hatch Predictions, Norfork Tailwater Status, and Recent Adventures”

“Insights and Updates on Fishing Conditions: Caddis Hatch Predictions, Norfork Tailwater Status, and Recent Adventures”

"Extensive Insights and Recommendations for Fishing Enthusiasts"

As I sit down to pen this comprehensive report, my thoughts drift towards the forthcoming fishing season, particularly the anticipation surrounding the caddis hatch and the current dynamics of the Norfork tailwater. Our recent endeavors have been dominated by preparations for winter goals, notably pouring and painting jig heads (26,000), which temporarily halted our regular fishing reports lately. Nonetheless, amidst these tasks, we’ve managed to squeeze in sporadic fishing excursions, including experimental night trips, detailed accounts of which can be found on our “Our Guide Team” page.
Our primary objective this year, as outlined in our recent newsletter, is to maintain a steady stream of fishing reports from our diverse team of guides, ensuring that our patrons are kept well-informed. Achieving this goal necessitates my gradual transition away from guiding duties (not completely), a shift vital for the expansion of our business. Fortunately, with a dedicated team of guides on board, we’re poised to continue providing top-notch service while I focus on broader organizational aspects.

Bull Shoals “Current” Lake Level – 657.88 – 3-30-2024 | Power Pool – 659.00

White River – Predictions:

With lake levels remaining low and uncharacteristically pleasant weather prevailing, our collective yearning for rain grows stronger. Adequate rainfall is essential for fostering an optimal caddis hatch. While a hatch is expected regardless, diminished water flow poses challenges, as brown trout are less inclined to feed vigorously without the current to animate their prey. To improve your chances of success targeting browns with caddis patterns, seek out shoals and deeper waters. However, without wind-induced water disturbances, fish may exhibit wariness, necessitating a strategic approach to avoid spooking them.

Although the caddis hatch has commenced, aerial activity remains relatively subdued. Nevertheless, it’s advisable to begin deploying caddis patterns, and for those seeking guidance, we’ve curated a comprehensive caddis kit tailored to our local brown trout’s preferences. Each river boasts its own signature patterns, meticulously selected to ensure a fruitful day on the water. We’re in the process of refining our kit, incorporating newer patterns to enhance its efficacy, with updates expected on our online store shortly.

Norfork “Current” Lake Level – 554.93 | Power Pool – 553.75:

We find ourselves situated a little over a foot above power pool in Norfork Lake, prompting a common query among us: why is there so much water over the floodgate? It’s a valid question, and frankly, the Corps of Engineers deserves credit for their efforts in managing lake levels to prevent floodwater issues as we head into the rainy season. This strategy mirrors their approach from last year, though we’re still contending with prolonged low water conditions. While this may be advantageous for wade fishermen, it poses challenges for guides like us who rely on sufficient water levels for spring hatches. It’s somewhat ironic considering Norfork typically thrives during low water, especially with caddis hatches that lure trout to dry flies. Conversely, we’re experiencing high water there and low water on the White River—a reversal of what we’d prefer. Nevertheless, the caddis are thriving in the elevated water, evident in their increased hatching activity. As such, it’s imperative to utilize caddis patterns when fishing in those conditions.

Meanwhile, hatches on the White River seem to peak in the afternoon. We’re keeping our fingers crossed for rain—lots of it—to alleviate these water level discrepancies. While we did receive a couple of inches of rain recently, it had minimal impact on raising Bull Shoals Lake but did cause a rise in Norfork Lake levels, prompting the release of excess water. Once the lake returns to power pool levels, we anticipate lower water conditions, though repeated rainfall could disrupt this pattern. Currently, only one generator is operational on the Norfork, evidenced by the offline units and the siphon running alongside all the gates, resulting in approximately 4,493 cfs discharge—equivalent to just over one turbine’s output. Despite these challenges, fishing has been exceptional, surpassing that of the White River. However, success often hinges on having a boat, as wading opportunities are limited. Our fly selection has been diverse, with a variety of patterns proving effective—including Blob flies, orange beads, Sunday Specials, cerise worms, purple midges, Roza’s Mouse Jig, Rootbeer Midges, and Duracells Jigs in brown and UV purple. Additionally, it’s worth noting that half of our recent catch involved running shad patterns below the dam, with fish showing a preference for white patterns and the Arkansas Beadhead in particular. Dead drifting and occasional stripping techniques yielded positive results in this regard.

In Conclusion:

As the caddis hatch approaches in the coming weeks, we anticipate a significant increase in activity. With hopes of rainfall and sustained flows on the White River, this hatch is projected to extend until the end of May, followed by Sulphur hatches for two months, contingent upon generation. Optimal conditions, typically around 20,000 cfs, have historically prolonged this hatch until late July. Subsequently, we transition into terrestrials and hoppers, with dry fly fishing remaining viable until the end of October. Deciphering the intricacies of this vast tailwater is truly a complex endeavor.

Oh, and one more thing to mention: we’re anticipating the 13-year Cicada hatch, which I expect to occur in May or early June. This event will undoubtedly add another layer of excitement to the mix, alongside the other bugs hatching. It’s all quite thrilling, especially for those who enjoy watching trout rise to the surface. Indeed, that’s the epitome of fly fishing in my opinion.

We trust that this detailed report provides valuable insights into current fishing conditions, aiding in your trip planning endeavors. Our mission is to enhance the fishing experiences of our fellow fly fishers. If you appreciate our efforts, we kindly ask for your feedback through Google reviews. Additionally, we’re excited to introduce a new fly as a complimentary gift to our patrons—simply inquire at the register. We eagerly await your feedback on its performance!


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