‘Tis the season! It’s that time of year that we as guides look forward to. The temperatures are dropping, crowds are disappearing and winter fishing on the White River is hitting its stride! Honestly, the Ozark winters are the soul reason I initially moved to Arkansas. This semi hidden gem of a river shows it’s true colors, and consistently produces quality fish during the duration of winter (December - March) to those who are willing to put in a little time and brave the mild weather here in the south!
Our so called “streamer season” takes place during the winter months. The brown trout are generally just finishing spawning and during this cycle a trout nearly depletes all of its fat reserves. This leads them to be hungry, angry and looking for a couple big meals to fill the immediate void post spawn. Streamer fishing is definitely not for every fly angler. You‘ll have moments of question as you continue to cast and strip with what little to no result. Then, BOOM your fly gets blown up as you’re day dreaming about who knows what and miss the fish of a lifetime (if I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it a million times).
What I’m trying to say here is, as a streamer angler you have to be attentive. To learn how to animate your fly and fish in such a way where your discipline and the physical actions that you make with the rod, and fly have a direct correlation to the fish you’ll put in the boat. Then a trip to Arkansas is a must! Another name of the game to fishing the White River during the winter months is nymphing and bead fishing. Classic 2 fly indicator fishing with depth verying depending on location and water flows. Spawning fish will be stacked on select gravel bars and rainbows and browns alike will be laid up behind them munching on loose eggs and nymphs rolling down the river. It’s generally the most productive way to fish throughout the winter months with both quantities and quality.
But here’s my disclaimer. Fishing is fishing. Some days will be tougher than others. We also have a weird and strange phenomenon in trout fishing that really only happens here. We call it “the shad kill”. What happens is, as air temps steadily decrease, water surface temps in the Bull Shoals Reservoir also decrease to a point where the lake turns over in temperature (the warm water on top goes to the bottom, and the colder water on the bottom goes to the surface). The Threadfin shad that inhabit Bull Shoals Lake in bait balls the size of your local Wal-mart, move with the warm water to deeper depths. If those shad are deep and Bull Shoals dam is running higher water, they simply cannot swim against the current of the dam. They end up getting sucked through if they are close enough to the backside of the dam. The feeding frenzy ensues and some trout will gain literal pounds within days. This is one of those “you should have been here yesterday” fishing moments, and it‘s nearly impossible to predict, but it does happen. If you hit it right it can be some of the best trout fishing found in the world!
If you want to get in on the action, we do have some days open throughout the winter with multi boat and lodging options available. Give me a call and let’s set something up!
Thank you for your time, Tim.