Fishing After Work
Sometimes you just gotta bluff your hand, cause life’s too short to fold and not go fishing. The deluge of rain, sleet, and snow over the weekend turned the White’s normally serene and clear flowing creeks and tributaries into frothy torrents of iced coffee, staining the river to near zero visibility. I’ve had some luck catching browns in muddy water before, and I’ve heard stories of giants feeding near the mouths of tributaries during heavy runoff, so I’m not going to pass up an opportunity to fish because of some dirty water. Neither will Chad Johnson or his eager pup, Tucker.
Making the most of your opportunities is the only way to scratch the itch when you’re a full time shop rat and part time guide in one of the busiest times of the year, what with Sowbug Roundup, sunshine, and caddis. I actually relish the “spring forward” time change because it means I can close the shop and be on the water with a good hour and a half of daylight left. It’s not as important that I catch fish during these late evening getaways as it is that I just slosh around in the water and cast away the day’s worries. A nice brown trout is purely bonus.
Substantial precipitation has pushed Bull Shoals Lake just barely into flood pool, so expect higher flows for a couple days but potentially some low water by the weekend once the lake level drops a little. Probably the most effective way to catch trout right now is to dead drift a caddis pupa with a midge trailer. Try various Prince Nymphs like the classic gold bead as well as newer, wackier versions like the Tungsten Jigged, Hot Wired, and Psycho Prince. For more exact caddis pupa imitations try a Pulsating Caddis or Wotton’s SLF Transparent Caddis. All of these heavily weighted flies in 14s and 16s make excellent attractor nymphs that carry your smaller midges down to the fish. For your midge trailer, try ICUs, Rubies, and Wotton Super Midges or Whitetails in black/silver/green.
Same story with lake levels and generation on the Norfork, but again wading water is likely in the near future. Scuds, Clint’s Sunday Special, and Ruby or Root Beer midges are standard fish catchers. Wooly Buggers and soft hackles too of course for the swingers, but take advantage of caddis activity this spring and try swinging bugs like Taylor’s Gut Instinct, Barr’s Graphic Caddis, and Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackle in caddis green.
-Gabe Levin (photos by Gabe Levin)