Meat eating White River Brown _ Brian Shinall image
Happy 2014 everyone! The start of a new year always brings excitement in the promise of good fishing and good times to come. If your holiday season has not included a fishing trip yet, treat yourself and your family/friends to a little fun on the water. Although at this very moment you may be considering a little hair of the dog to help overcome the bodily consequences of New Year’s Eve debauchery, and as such are probably not feeling particularly enthusiastic or optimistic, soon everyone will be sober, healthy, and excited again to suit up and hit the river with energy and gusto! Come on people! Show me the first two-footer of 2014!
Steady dam releases over 10,000cfs have allowed for some productive streamer fishing in the past few days, with good numbers of 15 to 18 inch browns coming to hand, and a few pushing past the 20 inch mark as well. Overcast conditions seem to produce a better streamer bite than bright sunshine, but that’s not to say it isn’t worthwhile to fish under a beautiful clear blue sky. Articulated flies 6 to 8 inches long in yellow/white/olive are getting attacked when retrieved over flooded grassbeds, rocky points, and submerged woody structure. Nymphing is also a good bet in the deep seams on outside river bends or over gravelly drop-offs on the shallower inside bends. Try egg patterns and San Juans as an attractor with tungsten pheasant tails, hare’s ears, or a large midge (size 16 or even 14) trailing behind. Make sure you have enough weight to get the flies down and your indicator is buoyant enough to hold them just off the bottom. Wade fishermen should look to the shallower inside river bends and jump around access to access to give yourselves the most opportunities, or consider using personal watercraft to access wadable areas.
Water releases are still highly variable, making wading conditions unpredictable, but the fish are happy to bite in almost any water level right now. Monitor the water level closely and get out there as soon as it falls out to take advantage of the short wading windows. The higher flows refresh and redistribute pressured fish, kind of like shuffling a deck of cards, and they often bite more willingly after a period of high water. You would do well to keep moving, cover more water, and “interview” as many fish as possible with Wooly buggers in olive or black and some of our gorgeous, locally tied soft hackles. If floating the river, nymph the seams and pocket water with Sunday Specials and heavy midges, or try some smaller streamers. A weightless egg/scud combo can also be deadly when allowed to sink slowly in back eddies and deep sloughs.