Henry’s Wading Report~CFS Report from Kurt Sleighter

Several patterns are working right now, but two seem to be working extremely well for me and will continue to get better as winter gets closer that would be midges and egg patterns.  So small fly anglers don’t overdo your midge offerings, when tying your larva and pupae patterns think less is more, thin is sure to win and etc.  The very simple thread midge, Zebra, PT and Rainbow Warrior have become my staples on the Bull Shoals and Norfork Tailwaters because of their high productivity.  Pay attention to what the trout are eating, slow water at the edge of underwater ledges has produced some quality fish.  When tying your midges keep a contrast of rib and body and experiment with a thicker and darker head with maybe just a touch of flashing stuff tied in at the thorax.

When fishing midges we talk a lot about dead drifting try being a little daring and add a little action such as lift and drop a few inches, swing it slow and short.  Experiment, be innovative, do something new and remember, some say that midges are the master anglers game.  Get in the game.

Recipe for the PT midge:

Hook:  TMC 2488, 2487, 2457
Size: #16 – 20
Thread: 8/0 or 6/0
Bead: Copper Tungsten
Rib: small copper
Body: Pheasant Tail fibers – 2-3 fibers for #20, 3-4 fibers #18, 3-4 fibers #16
Thorax: Peacock hurl or SLF fire orange dubbing, or fluorescent orange or red

Right now there is a lot of trout habitat work being done on the Norfork Tailwaters, and will continue for another 30 – 45 days, with AG&F trucks using the river as a highway creating some very off color (some call it mud) water.  Our fellow anglers are grumbling and walking away in disgust.  Let me tell you casting a fly right in behind a truck with something a little bright on it (fire orange dubbing) is taking fish some very large fish I might add.

Rim Shoals and Cotter have been very productive for several weeks, again egg patterns, midges and soft hackles are working well.

Life is good in the Ozarks ———-come visit.


Any of you out there who are “CFS Watchers” may have noticed that we recently had two breakdowns in the minimum flow system. Although the system is fairly new on the Norfork, minimum flow was implemented on the White in early July, and the Corps seemed to get things pretty well nailed down in the weeks after that. On the White, it took some adjustment, but eventually the Corps was able to get darn close to 650 cfs coming out of one unit. It even got to the point where when you “called the dam” as we like to put it, the recording stated “Bulls Shoals is running minimum flow from Unit number 2.” Over time, various units were mentioned, indicating that several, if not all, of the 8 units were capable of generating 650 cfs.

Although we’ve had precious little minimum flow (maybe none) over the past 3 months on the White, the Norfork has consistently had minimum flow at some period nearly every day since the minimum flow began. The Corps even added a “siphon” column to the cfs web page. This gave us a warm and fuzzy feeling because we could verify that when the generators weren’t running, there was 185 cfs coming out of the siphon.

But the warm fuzzy feeling about the Norfork disappeared on Monday, November 11th – see the first attachment. The siphon quit around 2am for 2 hours when it should have been running. Following that, there was a one-hour burst of light generation from 4am to 5am. But when generation ceased at 5am, the siphon did not come back online until 10am. Technical glitch or personnel malfunction? At this point, perhaps none of us know, but the Norfork was back to no minimum flow for 5 hours. So what, you say? Well, 5 hours is enough time for essentially all the water to drain out of the entire river. So any gravel beds or other areas that had been underwater continuously since minimum flow began were left high and dry. The larger “permanently wetted area” was no longer larger. Any little invertebrates that had decided to make a home in that new area no longer exist.

At this stage of the game, we should probably be patient and hope that the Corps is able to determine exactly what happened and correct the problem easily and quickly. But we should also keep in mind that the word “minimum” means well, “minimum”, that levels should never, ever drop below that level…if they do, by definition, you can no longer call it minimum. Every time that levels do drop below minimum flow for several hours, we will lose whatever gains we have made. If true minimum flow is maintained say, for 18 months, and then on a hot July day the siphon does not work or is not turned on for 5 hours, we will lose everything that we have gained up to that point. Minimum flow will provide benefits only when it is maintained 100% of the time.

If Monday’s episode weren’t enough, CFS Watchers on late Monday afternoon checked the generation predictions for the next day, Tuesday, November 12th. Lo and behold, there were 2 hours of zero generation predicted for Bull Shoals dam. Say what? Minimum flow is 7 megawatts, not zero. And back in July, the Corp began listing 7 megawatts in the prediction table for predicted minimum flow. So we CFS Watchers went to bed Monday evening wondering whether the Corps just forgot to use a 7 instead of a 1 on the prediction chart, or if we would see minimum flow fail on our second tailwater fishery the next day.

And it did fail. Not for long, one full hour for sure and probably most of a second hour – see second attachment. (Minimum flow was never turned on – regular generation was restarted.) This short period of no generation was long enough to dry out the new and larger wetted area from the dam downstream a couple miles or more, but not long enough to have any impact further down. Given that procedures seemed to be pretty-well nailed down at Bull Shoals Dam, and that the Corp had up to 8 units to choose from for running the 650 cfs, what could possibly have happened? Given that every single person in the Corps must be very aware of minimum flow, it’s hard to come up with a single idea of what might have happened. Clearly, it could not have been a technical problem as may have happened at the Norfork the day before.

So, the minimum flow celebrations have been held and minimum flow is now official.

But we’ll have to hold off for a while on the warm, fuzzy feeling that it might be doing any good at all for our tailwater fisheries.

Kurt Sleighter
Please feel free to forward this email to any interested parties. If the attachments are not readable, please advise and I can provide them in another format.

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