Norfork Tailwater – This river as changed in a big way, and I think for the better, “as far as structure goes”.

I’ve been over to Norfolk a few times since AGFC has made changes to the river. If you read my latest fishing report I touched a little on the upper part having some changes, but there are also some changes down at Cook’s hole, the last island in the trophy area, as well.  Because of the heavy winds the last few times I’ve been over there, we only waded and used the boat for a shuttle. During this last go around it worked well even though we had heavy winds blowing upstream.  However, I do like wind because of the chop.  I always use this to my advantage and it usually produces good results.  We didn’t put in until 11 or so because I wanted the water to drop out from the water they ran until 10am. I like it to be good and ready so the fish have adjusted to the falling water. Normally if you are fishing in these types of conditions the bite can be slow so I just wait it out.  It’s the patient thing this sport is teaching me the longer I’m learning it.

Cloud cover was the norm for the day and I guess I like that for streamer fishing, but we didn’t have the right conditions for that.  I always like sight casting when fishing an indicator rig in the sun. Dries were out because it was too windy, so we fished hard on the bottom and covered every inch of the half mile we decided to fish.  We had roughly five hours and it went by fast. We still could’ve fished spots longer. The good thing we had on our side was the weather.  It kept everyone off the river but us and two other people.  We almost had the entire river to ourselves and that is always a positive sign for what is to come.  As soon as we put in I actually rowed up to the first shoal.  This current is some of the best for this whole upper part and it gets pressured like crazy.  Using the boat to stay on the drift helps for staying on longer drifts, which is crucial when searching out bigger fish.  Nobody really fishes the far side and that is where I like to fish the slack water where I think the potential fish is holding in the particular pool. We weren’t surprised pulling out two fish on the first drift. We continued down the river fishing the far bank from the boat ramp. Our third fish was a solid brown that Will from this date as a fly fisherman as never caught.  So this day was a good day for him.  His first brown being quality is something you will always cherish.

As we continued through the day, we floated downstream and fished as we made our way down to the tailout before entering the next group of shoals. This new stretch has become deeper with a lot more deeper pools for big fish to stack up in; and because it’s on a hillside top it makes for shady cover for half the day… all positive signs in my book.  So I guess you could say we spent the majority of the day fishing this new spot that looked intriguing. Brad was able to hook a brown too, but Will got him today.  All in all they both had a good day spending time as friends over the Thanksgiving holidays. So check this spot out next time you plan on fishing Norfork tailwater, but always be safe and plan an escape route if they decide to generate water.

Cook’s Island

Some people I’ve heard like the new structure, but others don’t.  It’s always a catch “22” when rivers change.  I always think for the better in the long run and I would believe this to be the case for all rivers. We’ve had a lot of flooding over the last four years and each time they open the flood gates we can expect change. We guides have to learn new holes (which are the best part) and learn how to navigate the whole river all over again. One thing I have notice on Taneycomo is that there are more areas to fish downstream than ever before. It’s still hard to access and can be done from a boat, but this new stretch in low water can find yourself lost like you do fishing the shoals at Wildcat on the White.  Same with Norfork.  Lot’s more to do as if we didn’t have a lot of shoals already. To me, this is hands down the best fly water that actually makes you feel like only fly fisherman belong on this body of water.  NFOW would be second on my list.

The main thing I see as far as what AGFC has to do is keep these banks from eroding during the higher water floods.  Around the island are tons of boulders that change the way trout hold. There are a few other spots around that created sick holding lies. You have to float to see what I’m talking about.  I think the main thing that has to happen to all rivers that made the most significant changes will be pebble rock piling up and changing the shape of the rivers.  Along with fill in, this has made navigation a challenge big time, but not that bad for drift boats, hehe.

End Results

No cutthroat or brookies to the net on this day, but plenty of rainbows are still choked in this river.  I really wish in my own little world this would be an all catch-n-release river before the good Lord takes me.  I know wishful thinking, but I can. Thanks to Brad and Will, I had a great time and what a way to spend it on a river I always like to go back to.


~ by troutdoctor101 on December 1, 2011.

3 Responses to “Norfork Tailwater – This river as changed in a big way, and I think for the better, “as far as structure goes”.”

  1. Hey Jeremy, we had a great time fishing this river. I know Willy was exitced to get that big brown. Enjoy fishing and learning”how to fish” more and more everytime I fish with you. Looking forward to the next time .

    Thanks again


  2. Nice pics on this page.

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