There’s so many options for a fly fishing excursion in the Ozarks this time of year, it’s a wonderful problem to have trying to decide what to do with my last three hours of daylight after work. Should I chase the caddis hatch on the White and look for browns sipping in shallow water, or should I run to the mouth of a lake tributary looking for white bass and crappie? Or perhaps I should race home to Crooked Creek and try for a fat pre-spawn smallie. Whatever the game, it’s hard to go wrong on a sunny afternoon with redbud and dogwood blossoms waving in the breeze.
It appears that some lovely warm weather is going to settle over the area for the next week, with a couple of spring thunderstorms mixed in of course, but conditions are looking right for a culmination of good caddis fishing, white bass runs, and smallmouth moving onto beds. If SWPA decides to dump some extra lake water down the river, we may be in store for a good spring streamer bite on the White as well.
Flows have been constantly fluctuating up and down, making it difficult to fish any specific area for very long, but chasing the windows of low water and nymphing with princes and caddis pupa has been the go-to game. Some fish have been willing to feed on top on the lower flows, especially in back-eddies and the bottoms of slow pools. Streamers are producing a few nice browns as well on rising water if it’s not too trashy, or just behind the rise in the clearer, more stable water.
Good quality rainbows and the occasional fat brown have been biting egg patterns very well due to the spring rainbow spawn. Low water is ideal, concentrating fish into the tailouts and deeper pockets, but fishing the seams, deep banks and drop-offs on one unit of water has been effective as well. Midging activity has been quite heavy on warm afternoons, making soft hackles and small dries a possibility. Try Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackles in black or caddis green, Ron McQuay’s Anna Ks in black, red, green, or John Berry’s Green Butt.