Living and working so near the water allows us enough opportunities to go fishing together that we don’t always have to put serious, focused effort into catching fish. In fact, the less serious outings are often therapeutic, especially after a long day in the shop. Adult beverages, various forms of tobacco, canine companions, experimental flies, and a general goofball attitude make for a relaxing and entertaining evening. Throw a good brown trout into the mix and you’re really living right. Maybe it’s the guide life that creates a need for pressure-free silliness, but there really is no substitute for an outing on the river with good friends, where the collective interest identifies with something greater and more important than mere fish catching.
Hoppers in black, pink, and tan are still fishing well, pulling a fair number of rainbows to the surface in addition to the occasional big brown. Match the size of the hopper to the water level you’re fishing: #12’s on minimum flow, #10-8’s on intermediate flows, and #6’s on high flows. Dropping a Sunday Special, bead head Wotton midge, or bead head Hare’s Ear 2-4 feet (depending on the flows) under your hopper will seriously boost your numbers. If the hopper fails to raise anything, you can always resort to nymph/midge combos under an indicator, or swing soft hackles and woolies in the runs and current seams. Some browns have been seen gathering and staging near spawning grounds, and while we discourage fishing over redds, an egg pattern ought to start fishing well soon and be a fairly standard fly over the next few months, especially as an attractor on high flows.
Water quality can change day to day this time of year on the Norfork. As the lake turns over, pockets of stained, oxygen-depleted water come through the turbines, which can really hinder the trout’s desire to feed. The slow pools are usually the most affected by these conditions, if you’re struggling in the slow water, focus your efforts on the shoals. Root beer midges, Zebra midges, Hunchback scuds, various soft hackles and woolies are all producing. If the water is a little off color, fishing flies with a little UV dubbing or hotspot or colored bead or flash can give you an edge. Again, leave the redds alone, but eggs can be especially deadly in the stained water.