Higher Water Fishing on The White River

Many thanks to the NAFF for a great Sow Bug Round Up this year. It was a great show and it was very nice to see young folk participating and showing up for this great event.
The week of sow bug also brought us a fair amount of rain which has caused not only the lakes to rise but river levels to rise as well. Wading opportunities shrink for sure.

As of this writing on April 7th the Norfork dam has a spillway gate open due to a generator unit being down for maintenance. They are also warning that if the lake continues to rise that more water could be released in this fashion. Several years ago 2012 I believe? this same senario unfolded in the month of April. About or almost a full 2 units of water on the Norfork river with the flood gates open and some shad were coming through the spill gates. We were catching some pretty good fish that month as long as those gates were open.
The White River is also generating pretty regularly at this time with the lake level at 667.00 at the time of this writing with flows up to 12,000 CFS or 4 to 6 units of water. This is boat fishing water for sure with long leaders and a bit of split shot. I use the thinner diameter 9ft Maxima Chameleon butt to ultragreen tippet leaders on this water as opposed to the thicker and heavier butted leaders as they catch less of the current. This causes my flies to get to the bottom faster with less split shot. To this 9ft leader I will add another foot or two of 4X flouro tippet for the first fly. At the knot I just added my tippet to I will also add a couple of B or BB size shot. This knot will hold the shot in place and prevent it from sliding down to the flies.

From the first fly I will add another fly via the eye to eye connection. I am fishing barbless of course so attaching to the bend of the hook can and will cause the bottom fly to come off if this is not done. I now have a total length of 10 to 13 feet from the fly line to the last fly. An indicator of course is also a must with this type of set up and different ones can be used. Sometimes I use the styro types with the toothpick peg in various colors. Sometimes I use the thing-a-ma-bobbers in various colors. These are easier to move if the water is fluctuating or I move to a different part of the river and have to go deeper or shallower which is sort of rare unless the water really drops down. Most of the time I will just change the position of one of the shot by moving it up the leader to accommodate the shallower water. This way the entire leader and tippet sink at a pretty good even rate but hang up less and still indicate a subtle take. Often a take will occur in the first 10 feet of a drift in less than a foot of fast moving water.

This is often where a bigger and better fish will be in lie waiting on easy food so it is important to get the flies down rapidly and to do so with a casting mend or in air mend that allows the flies to lay in a pattern with the flies upstream and the shot and indicator lined up down stream of both of my flies with about 6 to 12 inches of fly line slightly downstream of my indicator as well. This will give me the best sink rate and also allow the indicator to show me if there is an immediate take.
Using this technique I can fish many types and sizes of flies from midges to San Juan Worms. With the upper fly I try to select one that will attract such as a fly with color or a fly with a tail such as one of Davy’s White Tail Midges with either a white or red tail or I may use a very bright pink midge and then drop from that. It depends on water clarity.

Give this technique a try the next time you are fishing out of a boat as you will find it very effective.

Drop by the shop in Bull Shoals if you want to see a set up of this rig and if you want give me a shout at 870-404-8906 and we can spend a morning or day on the water teaching you this technique so that you can go and do it your self out of your boat.

Good Fishing.
Jimmy T.  870-404-8906

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