Tailwater Floodgate Fishing

One cold sunny Friday morning in late March my friend Mark, his son, Garrett and I headed toward Beaver Dam for a day of tailwater trout fishing. I had called “the phone number” the night before to check the generation schedule and the recording said “one generator running from midnight to midnight Friday”.

One of two generators running is ideal for fishing from my johnboat with spinning rods and 1/16 oz. marabou jigs. Two generators can make fishing a lot tougher on the Beaver tailwater fishery.

While we were driving toward the launching ramp at the base of Beaver Dam, Mark announced that there were several flood gates open on the dam. I told him that was not possible, as the lake level was nowhere near high enough to require floodgates to be opened. He proceeded to read me an article off the internet confirming that he was correct. Apparently one generator was not working properly and so the Corp of Engineers decided to open some floodgates to try to draw the lake down quicker to prepare for spring rains.

My spirits plummeted. I had promised these guys a good day of fishing and we could have driven to the Bull Shoals or Norfork tailwaters but I had chosen Beaver specifically because of the more moderate generation. Now I was faced with a serious challenge, specifically, too much swift water. I threw up a quick prayer for help and tried not to show my concerns.

When there are a lot of heavy water releases in any form from Beaver Dam the trout tend to hug the bottom and hang close to the banks with the least current and in the pockets, eddies and backwater areas. We focused on the areas with the least current and pounded the water with 3/32 oz. and 1/8 oz. scuplin olive and peach marabou jigs letting the jigs fall very deep before we started our “pop and drop” retrieve.

The fishing was a little slow but steady. It was much better than I expected. After 6 hours of fishing, we ended up catching 19 rainbows and 2 browns. Garrett landed the largest fish a 16 inch rainbow. We felt incredibly fortunate to have done that well with that much current.

I thanked God for bailing me out and we headed home 3 happy trout fishermen.  Who says you can’t catch tailwater trout with the floodgates open? Not me anymore.

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