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November Ff Report


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Updated report for early November

Excellent fishing is still a possibility every day on both the White River and Norfork Tailwater

October was a stellar month on both rivers because of the breathtaking fall colors that dotted the landscape coupled with refreshingly cool temperatures – and the fishing wasn’t too shabby either. There is nothing quite like the experience of wading or drifting in such a dramatic setting and background, and the chance of hooking into a big brown or rainbow is practically a bonus when compared to the comfortable fishing weather and appealing aesthetics. This can make November an underrated month, which is primarily a result of the perception that October is considered the all-around perfect time to be on these rivers. In all actuality, November usually offers up even better trophy fishing than its predecessor due to the fact that there are so many large trout on the move that intentionally gain weight in preparation for the spawn (the White River) or as a part of the recovery process subsequent to leaving their traditional spawning grounds after “doing the deed” (the Norfork). Plus, there are not nearly as many anglers on the water, and this makes November an absolutely perfect all-around month for fly fishing the Ozarks.

Flows on both rivers have been somewhat erratic of late due to the fact that cooler weather creates an increased demand for electricity, and Corp of Engineers relatively new commitment to keeping the dissolved oxygen in the rivers above non-lethal levels also makes for inconsistent dynamics. This can make wading a bit tricky, but there are still plenty of shallow water spots available virtually every day; especially if you have a vessel that can provide safe access to one of the many islands on either river. Although a boat can help get anglers into many wonderful spots for drift fishing, as well, getting out into the water and treading lightly through the shallows is a superior way to locate and catch trout that are a bit wary from all the pressure they put up with during October. And if you don’t have access to a watercraft, stalking the banks during light to moderate flows is a great way to find slow eddies and seams that hold good numbers of feeding fish. Rainfall has been nonexistent over the last month, so look for flows to moderate throughout November, if the region stays dry – especially on the White where low dissolved oxygen levels are not the huge concern that they are on the Norfork. As we progress into late fall and early winter, releases will be confined to dawn and dusk due to the fact that this is when power demand is greatest, but like always, no one ever knows exactly what to expect on these rivers, so it is always a good idea to be prepared for anything and everything.

The usual fall hatches of micro caddis and blue winged olives are starting to consistently emerge, with the heaviest activity usually occurring within a couple hours before nightfall. Fishing with tiny dry flies is a unique challenge, but it is well worth the effort when anglers join the elite “20/20” club – membership means landing a twenty-inch trout on a size #20 fly (or smaller). Because fish must feed heavily on small insects in order to be efficient, fishermen are often surprised at how many shots at big fish they get during these seemingly insignificant hatches. Nymphs imitating micro caddis and blue winged olives are also effective, especially during the hours right before the hatch kicks into full swing. Midges – both dry and subsurface – are also good choices right now, and it never ceases to amaze our guides and shop customers when it comes to how many huge trout are caught on these tiny flies; especially during the fall. So if you do decide to give November fishing a try on the White and Norfork, don’t forget your two, three or four-weight rods, as these lighter setups make it much easier to subtly present minuscule offerings.

Nymph fishing has also been quite productive recently, with scuds, sow bugs and midges producing the majority of the action when the water is running lightly or is dead low. Weighted flies are working best in the slow stretches of water, and dropper rigs or unweighted patterns fished below a split-shot allow for a very natural-looking presentation in the riffles and runs. Drab colors are always good choices, but it never hurts to switch to brighter flies if the fishing gets slow; orange (dead) scuds and red midges will often produce fish when nothing else seems to be working. Egg patterns in a variety of shades are also pulling many quality trout; light & dark roe, salmon egg, shrimp pink, and Peachy King are the current favorite colors of our guides and visiting fishermen. Remember, it is absolutely critical to keep these flies ‘rolling’ along the bottom for the best results. Those folks who like to exclusively target big trout have been doing very well streamer fishing. Don’t expect a bite on every cast when chucking large flies in the deeper pools and along drop offs, but if you are patient and diligently work every bit of water within reach, it is reasonable to catch multiple browns over 18 inches throughout the course of the day. Night fishing with streamer patterns is also very exciting, especially considering that any given bite could end up being the “fish of a lifetime”.

Many anglers new to fishing the Ozark tailwaters tend to underestimate the months of November, December and January, but there are also people that make the Mountain Home, Arkansas area their winter home just because the colder months are such a good time of year for catching big browns. The rewards of fishing during the late fall and into winter are well worth dealing with the sometimes frosty weather, and on many days, it’s possible to have a whole stretch of river all to yourself. Barring any heavy rain events over the next three months, there will be plenty of low-water opportunities – especially from mid morning until dusk. Once the reservoirs ‘turn over’ a few weeks before Christmas, we will start seeing even longer periods of dead-low water, but until then, continue to expect the unexpected. Late fall and winter are when serious anglers come out of the woodwork and for good reason: the lack of fishing pressure and the abundance of post-spawn browns makes this the perfect time of year for hooking into a behemoth. The White and the Norfork may be the finest year-round trout fisheries in the world, so if you are interested in learning more about the unique cool weather trophy trout opportunities in the Ozarks, be sure to keep up with our bi-monthly newsletters and reports. Also, never hesitate to give us a call or send us an email if you have any questions regarding the fishing to expect during any time of year.

Larry Babin

Blue Ribbon Fly Shop

www.blueribbonflyfish.com

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