White River, Bull Shoals Lake fishing report October 15th, 2013

Kurt Sleighter with a beautiful fall brown while fishing big foam!

The White River is fishing particularly well, as usual for this time of year and in general. Power demands for cooling have tapered off meaning low flows in the morning hours from about midnight to 2 p.m. These low flows are giving wading anglers plenty of opportunity using the usual midge, sow bug and scud patterns as well as an increased interest in egg patterns. Boating anglers are enjoying higher flows in the afternoon and having plenty of water for throwing streamers to the beautiful fall colored browns. The hoppers are still very plentiful at this time and nice catches of 22 inch plus fish are coming on larger foam patterns.
Bull Shoals Lake is picking up these days as well, with spotted bass, smallmouth’s and the occasional crappie coming to hand. The fish are still deep off primary and secondary points. Full sinking lines with your favorite shad imitation will do the trick. This time of year, it is always good to keep moving and trying a bit farther back in the coves and bays. Not, way, way, back though, the trick is to find where the shad are and you will then most likely find the game fish!
The point is, GET OUT THERE! October is one of the best months to be on the lake and river. The colors are really starting to come alive. The fish are cooperating and the fall temps make it most enjoyable to be out on the water!

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Bull Shoals, White River fishing report October 3, 2012

Bull Shoals is fishing well, with a consistent temperature of about 74 from the surface to about 40 feet then developing a distinct thermocline at 45 to 50 feet, with the temperature dropping to 67 degrees.  These conditions have most of the fish at about the 30 to 35 foot depth range.  This of course,  is well within range for the fly angler with full sinking lines.

The main lake, primary points, and secondary points are all producing fish with the usual clouser type presentations.

The evening bite seems to be getting pushed back until after dark and I suspect the rising full moon has something to do with that.  Look for conditions to improve by the middle of next week, when the bite should start to come a little earlier in the evening.

A cold front is expected to arrive in the area Friday the 5th and rain and rapidly dropping temperature is expected for two days.  I look for the fishing to slow after the front, the fish should remain in the same general areas they are holding now, but I would tend to fish a bit deeper and slower until after the affects of the front have passed.  Meaning, waiting for the bluebird skies to diminish and the fish resume their periodic migrations to shallower water for feeding.

Meanwhile, the White River continues to fish well (as always) with the usual midge and sow bug presentations.  Daily releases have been fairly consistent, running 1000cfs to 1400cfs in the morning hours and increasing to 3000cfs to 4000cfs (or more) later in the afternoon and evening.  Some would say that is great generating schedule, as it allows the waders a chance to get out, and enough water for the boaters to move around as well.

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White River Fishing Report 7-25-12

There is a great hopper bite on the White River right now with nice browns and the occasional cutthroat coming to pink hoppers and larger ant patterns. Hot temperatures causing the need for power demands are being met with light to moderate daily flows on the White River and intermediate flows on Norfork.

I’m sure boat fisherman would like to see a bit more water as the water is pretty skinny is some areas, however, the periods of low, or no flow, are creating plenty of opportunity for wading fisherman.  I’m also seeing a lot of folks wet wading these days on the access sites a little further downstream.

Lake levels are very low and I would not anticipate higher river flows until the area gets some precipitation and the lakes can gain some elevation.

The midge and indicator crowd is getting nice catches on the usual patterns and I have been getting nice 50 to 100 fish days on Woolly Buggers, olive seems to be the most consistent, but be sure to have an assortment of colors, as browns and yellows are having their moments as well.

Another week of unseasonable hot weather is in the forecast, but the river is a great place a day or two on the water.  Be sure to give us a call and get in on some of this great hopper action!

 I’m sure boat fisherman would like to see a bit more water as the water is pretty skinny is some areas, however, the periods of low, or no flow, are creating plenty of opportunity for wading fisherman.  I’m also seeing a lot of folks wet wading these days on the access sites a little further downstream.

Lake levels are very low and I would not anticipate higher river flows until the area gets some precipitation and the lakes can gain some elevation.

The midge and indicator crowd is getting nice catches on the usual patterns and I have been getting nice 50 to 100 fish days on Woolly Buggers, olive seems to be the most consistent, but be sure to have an assortment of colors, as browns and yellows are having their moments as well.

Another week of unseasonable hot weather is in the forecast, but the river is a great place a day or two on the water.  Be sure to give us a call and get in on some of this great hopper action!

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White River Fishing Report/ Bull Shoals Lake Fishing Report 5-27-2012

The lake level at Bull Shoals is holding fairly steady at 654ft, with a main lake temperature of 75 to 80.  Water releases from Table Rock are helping to keep some water moving through the lake, and the ACOE is doing a small bit of generating during the evening hours to help keep the White River, and the trout, a bit cooler.  A thermocline is forming at the usual 25 foot depth, and the fish are relating just above it.

Most of the bass (largemouth, smallmouth and Kentucky) are done spawning, and can be found in the main lake from 18 to 25 feet down during the day, and shallower during the evening hours when they come in to feed.  The Kentucky bass are really coming alive in the evening, and I’m getting some very nice 16 to 18 inch fish on smaller, yellow and black dumbbell headed flies on full sinking lines.

I hear some reports of walleyes being caught at Tucker Hollow but, they remain very spotty at best this spring.  Crappies and white bass remain scattered, but I am getting some nice “eaters” on the bluffs.

Very nice 9 and 10 inch bluegills are still the name of the game, I’m getting them most every evening on the main lake.  You can find them in cuts on the north bluff’s in 8 to 20 feet of water.  In fact, that is where I’m having the most success with other fish as well.  I’m catching nice Kentucky bass and smallmouth’s on the same small dumbbell flies the bluegills are hitting on, with black, and black and yellow being the best colors.  Don’t be surprised to find yourself hooked up with a decent channel cat, as they are hanging in the same north bluff cuts.  This time or year you can expect just about anything and everything to be cruising the lake bluffs, so it’s always exciting to see the first “color” of every fish you hook!

The White River, as always, is producing nice catches of trout on basic midge and sow bug patterns.  I spent the day Thursday floating and wet wading below Shipps Ferry and had very good luck on buggers,  with a splash of pink, pink rooster tails were also producing extremely well for my buddy using light spinning gear.  With the lake being low and generation slow, there are plenty of opportunities for wading and wet wading on the White and Norfork rivers.   

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Bull Shoals Lake, White River Fishing Report 4-16-2012

Bull Shoals is back to power pool after a couple weeks of
steady generation.  The lake warmed to
the low seventies but has dropped a few degrees the last couple days due to a
little cooler weather. The bass seem to be moving into the shallow water but some
are still out in deeper water too.   I’m
catching nice smallmouth bass in about 18 feet of water on the secondary banks
with lime over white clouser’s doing the most good.  Nice largemouth’s are holding in 4 to 12 feet
of water and are also hitting clouser’s, woolly buggers are getting some action
as well.

Walleye’s are tuff to find this year and so far I have yet
to see even one and have not heard of many being seen or caught.  The white bass have been very spotty this
year and I would think the spawn is over for them and are moving back into
deeper water.


Catfish, both channel and flatheads are being caught on trot
lines both day and night and about 50% still have spawn in them.

Big bluegills can be caught in deeper water (12 to 18) with
sinking lines and wet flies.  I can’t say
much about their spawning activity as I have not found and eggs in any
bluegills all winter long and still none this spring.  My guess is, the flooding last spring, pushed
them back so far, they either spawned very late or, most likely re-absorbed
their eggs and did not spawn.  If anyone
has any input on that, I would sure like to know.

The White River is getting back to some lower flows and the
fishing is great.  Massive caddis fly
hatch’s coming off in the afternoon are epic and the fishing is very, very good
right now.  Expect some wading
opportunities to open up now that the lake is back to pool.


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White and Norfork River fishing report 2-29-12

With the recent shad kills in both Bull Shoals and Norfork
Lake, both the White and the Norfork Rivers  are giving up fair numbers of fish.  Most being taken sub surface on small white
shad patterns fished 2 to 4 feet down, depending on the water levels.  Dry fly shad patterns are also catching a few
fish, so make sure to have a few of those in your box as well.  There have been a few reports of a caddis
hatch, and some of the locals are all abuzz with anticipation of an exceptional
hatch this spring.

Water levels in both lakes is at or below power pool, and
the 4 day outlook for generation shows very little change in water levels, this
should allow for some wade-able waters this week.

The outlook for the Norfork is generation during the morning
hours then remaining off until six or seven.
Bull Shoals is running small amounts all day long, providing some wading
opportunities, but be very careful though,  as they are moving it up and down some
throughout the day

I’m getting  reports
of  White Bass and crappie being caught
on Bear Creek on Bull Shoals Lake, however, I have not had the opportunity to
verify that first hand.  I did make a run
up Shoal Creek (mid lake) and found the water temperature to be around 55 in
the very shallow and most northern part of the lake.  Main lake temperature is still 45 to 47 in
most parts of the lake, but should be warming up with the warm weather in the forecast
for the next few days.

Hopefully, if the warm weather patterns continue, the lake
should warm, and the fish should start to move in earnest????   I’ll keep ya posted on that.

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White River, Bull Shoals Lake Fishing report 1-5-2012

The surface temperature on Bull Shoals is in the mid forties on the main lake, this means there is no real reason for the fish to be up near the surface.  Most fish are at least twenty feet deep or more and many are stacked up off primary points at forty feet or more.  Very nice,  nine and ten inch bluegills, and crappies in the mid ‘teens, as well as a few smallmouths are coming to hand. 

 Full sinking fly lines fished towards shore from a boat positioned over 35 feet of water seems to be doing the trick.  Small clousers always work, however, switching to smaller size #10 wet flies, fished with a short strip seem to be working even better!  Colorful patterns like the Black Laced McGinty (www.warmwaterflytyer.com/patterns4.asp)  tied in florescent pink and black is working very well, not only for ‘gills and crappie , but bass as well.  Secondary points and fingers are the first place to look, and primary points are holding fish if they provide the right structure.  The trick is to fish slow but keep moving, make your presentation to as many fish as possible as you work your way down the bank.  As always on Bull Shoals, the wind is a determining factor on where you can fish and even more so this time of year with the cold temps.  Find a spot protected from the wind, and hopefully in the sun, and you can have some fun with some very nice pan fish.

The White River is fishing well (as usual)  and many fly fisherman are turning to streamers this time of year in hopes of tearing into one of the Whites trophy browns.  Large yellow articulated flies such as the Conrad Sculpin usually get the nod from me, although black and olive patterns are always effective too.  The 4 o’clock midge hatch is something you can set your watch to,  and the usual red, black and zebra midges will all catch fish.  All four lakes in the White River system are now back to (or below) pool and the ACOE is slowing down the generation a bit, and with no rain in the forecast, it’s a sure bet there will be more wading opportunities available.  Norfork has had wadeable water most every day for the last few weeks.

Be very careful fishing this time of year.  The lake water is very cold and there are few boats on the lake to assist you if you have problems.  Be safe and have fun!

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Bull Shoals / White River Fishing Report 7-29-2011

With Table Rock back to below flood pool, Bull Shoals is starting to see some pretty good drops in water level and should continue for some time.  ACOE projects the water level to return to pool on about the 1st of November.  Presently the lake is dropping approximately four inches a day and that should increase a small amount each day.

The water temperature is in the high 80’s or low 90’s and is making for some very comfortable swimming.  The fish of course are down on the thermocline (25 feet, or more) where the water temp is a bit more to their liking.  The situation remains, that the fish can be where they are comfortable and remain in the cover of flooded trees.  This makes getting to them a bit of a challenge, especially with a fly rod.  However, that’s not to say they cannot be caught, you just have to have a bit more patience when it comes to getting hung up, and of course bring a few extra flies.

One of my favorite things to do this time of year is to turn my fly-fishing for bluegills in the evening and use them as bait for catfish on trotlines.  You’ll be surprised how much fun it can be to load up a bucket full of bream.  The small two to three inch fish make excellent bait, while the occasional eight to ten incher makes for fantastic fish fry’s.

Catfish are great on the table and are loads of fun on the trotlines as well, freeze a bunch up and take them home for the winter.

The White River continues to run high with mean daily releases running around 14,000cfs.  We were seeing a shut down from midnight until six in the morning, which provided some very nice wading opportunities.  Down river, Rim Shoals waders were doing well on midge and worm imitations, and then moving up below the dam for the afternoon. 

With the high water, streamers are doing well fished close to the banks, but you may have to work a little for them.  The hoppers started to show up a couple weeks ago and there are pretty good numbers of them in various sizes.  We’re getting some takes on hopper imitations, but I don’t expect them to be in full swing for at least a couple more weeks.

With the amount of water being released, it’s going to take long leaders and plenty of shot to get a egg or worm pattern down near the bottom where it needs to be.  Look for flooded grassy areas with plenty  of indentations for the fish to lie in, and drift a worm / egg or pheasant tail dropper just above the bottom.

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Bull Shoals/White and Norfork River Fishing Report 6-6-11

Been waiting all spring for the water to warm, guess what fans?  It be warm now.  The lake went from 65 to 85 in the last couple of weeks, and now it is just plain hot.  On top that, the lake is clear as a bell, all the rain and water moving through gave it a real good flushing. 

Many shad have been running around the flooded trees, giving the fish plenty to eat without having to do much more than open their mouths and let them swim in.  However, with the water at 85, the shad and game fish are spending their days in deeper water.  Gars have been the primary target for this fly fisher, and they have been providing lots of fun.  Loafing around in the flooded treetops, drop a fly near them, and tease up a strike.  When they hit, give them the rod (slack) until they run, then start applying pressure.  The trick is getting them out of their backwater holding areas without getting hung in all the trees.

Make sure to bring along another rod rigged with a chugger or popper and a shad dropper, set down a couple feet.  The spotted and white bass can sometimes be seen rounding the shad up and driving them to the surface.  Run over as fast as possible (without spooking them) and cast to the shad busting the surface and strip like hell, and you may be rewarded with a nice Kentucky or white bass.

Now for the rivers:  Both Norfork generators were down for repair so the ACOE was releasing water through the floodgates.  This activity was cause for concern as the water release came from higher up in the lakes water column, water released through the turbines’ is generally deeper and cooler.  One generator is now back on line and the river water is now running a little cooler, at about 60 degrees.  Fishing has been great on the Norfork as there is a massive hatch of the 13-year cicadas and the fish are going nuts for them.  Large dry flies are a blast to fish (you can actually see it) and the fish are tearing them up.  Nice catches of 16” to 22” browns, rainbows and cutthroats are being had every day.

The White River is clear and the fishing is good.  The ACOE is slowing the release of water through the floodgates and the river is very fishable with the water lever at about 461” (9 feet over dead low).  I would expect the trend to continue in the weeks to come. 

Nice catches are being caught on worm and egg patterns, with some dry fishing with cicada patterns doing well on the lower part of the river.

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Bull Shoals Lake, White River, Fishing Report 5-18-2011

It’s been a while since my last report, and Bull Shoals has seen a lot of changes in the last few weeks.  Heavy rains pounded the area in late April, raising the lake level to just above 693, and is just now starting to slowly drop.  More rain is predicted starting tomorrow, and continuing for the next few days. We have been blessed with some clear, sunny days, however, not enough to get the lake temperature much above 65 degrees, cool nights have also hindered the lakes warming.

The good news is, the fish had plenty of cover to do their spawning, and the young have plenty of places to hide.  At this point, I would say just about everything except the catfish have completed spawning activities, and are hanging around the abundant cover while they recover and rest.  More good news is that there seems to be a good supply of threadfin shad moving around the shallows, giving the game fish plenty to dine on.

The lake has cleared up considerably in the last two weeks and has gone from the color of chocolate milk to “rather clear” considering all the debris that washed in.  I have not noticed a lot of fishing activity-taking place, but I do want to say, do not let the rain and high water deter your spring and summer vacation plans.  Fishing high water is just another way to test your fishing skills, adapt your presentations, whether they are live bait or casting fly’s.  Let’s face it, it is easy to do the same thing, year after year, but what do you learn?  Yeah, it’s harder to go out and try new things, to adapt to new challenges, to fish in ways you may not be familiar with.  But, isn’t that what’s it’s really all about? 

So, with that in mind, why not try something new?  Something like latching on to three or four, or even five feet of toothy gar with a fly rod and a rope fly.  With the water high, and the warm sunny weather coming, the gar are lazing around the flooded trees, just waiting for some unsuspecting passer bye to make the fatal mistake of coming just a little too close.  If you have yet to try targeting gar, you are in for some high voltage fun!  I guarantee, you will never look at gar the same way again, after you tackle them on a fly rod.

Twitch your fly, perpendicular to a motionless gar, and let it rest about eight inches in front of its nose and watch it come alive in an explosive strike.  They fight well, like to bulldog, then run like hell.  On a calm, clear day, expect to have several opportunities to tease a strike, many follow ups and a few “takes” if all goes well.  Don’t let lack of experience with a fly rod deter you, with a little practice, you’ll have enough ability to get the job done, and a whole new respect for gar, and even yourself, for giving it a try. We have everything you need, tackle and instruction, all included.

The Whiter River, as always, is fishing well.  Water releases are running between 12,000 and 16,000cfs, and should continue for some time to come.  Wading is out, but it’s a great time for a beautiful day of fishing from the Loch Leven.  Streamers do well in high water , as do eggs and San Juan Worms fished under an indicator just above the flooded grass.

Whatever, you choose, lake or river, it’s the perfect time for a day of fishing.  Remember to be careful on the lake, as there is still some timber floating around.  The river, as everyone (hopefully) knows, always demands respect and even more so with increased flows.

Good luck, and be safe!

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