The Water

Arkansas’ White and Norfork Rivers are perhaps the most challenging yet productive fisheries that you will experience. Water levels may rise or lower several times daily (as much as 8 ft.). This causes hydraulic cushions (current sanctuaries) to appear and then disappear, requiring instant changes in rigging. Sometimes this leaves even the most seasoned fly anglers scratching their head. The key to being productive throughout these conditions is to understand the river’s subsurface topography in all levels of hydroelectric generation.

So what is all this talk about generation?

Bull Shoals Dam is the third hydroelectric facility located on the upper White River basin. Its outflow is also the beginning of our trout habitat in Arkansas. The “powerhouse” is equipped with eight hydroelectric turbines. Each one, at capacity, can generate roughly 48 megawatts, which in turn produces water release of approximately 3000 cubic feet per second. In full generation (all eight turbines on line) the water release rate can reach an astonishing 26,000 cfs. Many big browns have been fooled during these periods of heavy generation! There are several factors that govern the generation rate of electricity at the facility. For instance, peak power demand and available water supply. During winter and summer months, when most folks are using either heating or air conditioning, periods of heavy generation should be expected, providing there is adequate water supply in Bull Shoals Lake. In the spring and fall, when demand is at lower levels, we witness moderate or no generation. I must admit this seems complicated, but rest assured trophy brown trout are caught in every level of generation throughout all four seasons.

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