Winter is in full effect in the Arkansas Valley. But be that as it may, it has been a relatively mild winter for us, with the exception of a few cold snap weekends. Temps during the day, on a typical day with no storm on the horizon, are sitting comfortable anywhere from the high 30’s to high 40’s. The night temperatures are what we really want to pay attention to as anglers. Typically nights are brisk in the 20’s. When temps do start to drop into the low teens and single digits is when you’re water will be affected the next day.
Even on a warm day following a typical night, winter fishing is not about getting out there early, it is about fishing the warmest part of the day. A good start time is around 11, and we really don’t see much action at all until 10am at the earliest, so sleep in and have that warm breakfast at home. If the temps the night before were super low, expect to see the river slushy in the morning. If the day is expected to get warm, the slush will start to dissipate but it can be a waiting game. If it is cold day following a cold night, maybe you should consider skiing instead of fishing, just saying. Another big weather consideration this time of year (and really all year round) is wind. It is typically always breezy on the Arkansas, but keep an eye out for the gusts. They aren’t lying when they say 40 mph sometimes.
Fish this time of year have moved into their winter holding runs. Look for slow, deep pools to produce good quantities of fish. Nymphing is the name of the game right now. Running a double nypmh rig with heavy split shot under a strike indicator or tight line nymphing has been most effective. Fishing at or near the bottom of the water column is key right now. It will take some time playing around with the weight and depth to find the sweet spot but once you’re there it will be well worth the effort. As temps warm up midday look for fish to move up into the bottom ends of runs and riffles but most of your active fish will be consistently in the slower water.
Suggested Flies: Coldwar Caddis #14-16, Perdigons #14-18, Duracell Jig #14-18, B’s Midge #18, Roza’s Red/Pink Tailed Jig #14-16, Rainbow Warriors #16-18, Prince Nymph #12-16, SH Pheasant Tail #12-18, Two Bit Hooker #14-18, Frenchie #16-18, Newbury’s Knuckle Dragger #12, Psycho Prince $14, Hot Stone #12-16
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