White River

White River wrap up

Posted by Larry Babin on March 3rd, 2012
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Another stellar February is officially in the books and what a month it was! It was certainly full of highs and lows both figuratively and literally regarding temperatures, flows, and catching. As with any tail water, there are so many variables that effect the conditions of any said month year by year. Therefore, each month and quarter are difficult to predict at best and can result in drastic differences from just the previous year’s outcome. The answer to what makes February unique is multifaceted.

The most significant aspect of February that most anglers mark their calendar for is the 1st which marks the opening day of the catch & release trophy zone below Bull Shoals Dam. This mile and a half stretch is closed for the spawn beginning November 1st to protect the process. The first fell on a Wednesday this year and apparently no one forgot! Between 20-30 boats including a small fleet of drifts found their way to the launch from early on. Plenty of quality fish reported over the course of the next few days.

In addition to the C & R opening, February is also associated with the winter phenomenon known as the shad kill. This takes place when threadfin shad congregate near the turbines on the lake side and ultimately get shredded though to river side much to the delight of the trout. Typically this process is stimulated by multiple days of bitter cold weather conditions and of course higher generation releases but there is nothing typical about conditions year after year. Ironically, both Bull Shoals Dam and the Norfork tailwater both produced shad kills during relatively mild weather conditions and sometimes less than moderate flows. A personal highlight was dragging a Todd’s wiggle minnow across the surface while anchored up near a deep seam in the C & R zone. This is usually productive, especially for big fish, when the surrounding water is not frothed by boats. Once the water stabilizes they start feeding again.

Streamer fishing also consisted of peaks and valleys when the right conditions aligned. Some days you might be rewarded with one but not the other. Early in the month we landed plenty of healthy females in the 18″-24″ range but failed to convince any prehistoric caliber males to eat although reports are solid of big males digging in to fast and furious protein injections. Perhaps the spawn played some impact. Later in the month this changed as we landed more males that hadn’t quite fattened up post spawn but fought like hell.

The recent circumstances of lower lake levels, lower flows, and warmer than usual weather conditions should translate to an outstanding month of fishing no matter what the technique. The fact that a highly anticipated caddis hatch is around the corner certainly sweetens the deal. Whether nymphing caddis pupa or throwing dries to the rises the potential for a prolific hatch is quite realistic. Last year’s hatch was nothing short of awesome. Plenty of opportunities for both depending on the time of day and approach. Pictured below is a specimen from last year. Based on what I’ve seen thus far, we should see some fat caddis. I sure miss these guys.

If you’d like to capitalize on March fishing stay tuned the site or give me a call. That’s especially true to those of you looking for that cabin fever remedy! Make plans now for March or April to fish with HOTF or contact for any needed advice… fishing only. LOL
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