When I was invited to hop in a drift boat with two Tasmanians on Monday, I knew I was in for a cultural experience and a lot of laughs. Steve Dally’s old mate Steve “Stinky” Butler came across the pond for a visit and a shot at some North American brown trout, and was rewarded with a couple of good fish from both the White and the Norfork. Fishing with these two blokes not only expanded my vocabulary of silly Australian expressions, it exposed me to a variety of Euro-style leader setups and strange Tasmanian flies like the “Carrot” and the “Shrek,” a souped up woolie which took a nice long brown from the White. Just quietly, I rigged up Stinky’s rod with a filthy American rig consisting of indicator, split shot, and egg fly just to mess with his sense of fly fishing etiquette, but apparently Tasmanians, especially those aptly named Stinky, have no quarrels with fishing dirty. We proceeded to whack rainbows in silly quantities while floating down the Norfork before spotting something large working the edge of a mud-line coming from a small tributary full of fresh runoff from the morning’s deluge. Stinky made one cast at the seam with an egg pattern that was immediately devoured, and seconds later the fatty pictured above was airborne, provoking shouts and obscenities of various cultural origins. Stinky played the fish like a man who’s used to measuring browns in “kilos,” and was soon smiling with fish in hand.
Daytime flows have been steady at two to three thousand cfs, offering decent wade fishing from either bank but lovely stable boating conditions for the drifter, jon boat or personal watercraft. Hoppers are still worth a thought on cloudy days or low light conditions when browns are more comfortable coming to the surface, but indicator fishing is your best bet at steady action. Light indicators supporting various midges, scuds, or sowbugs in the slow water is a good setup. In the shoals an egg pattern with some weight in the form of split shot or a heavy tungsten nymph is a killer rig – getting the egg to roll naturally along the river bottom is the key. Note: by recommending egg patterns, I am not encouraging fishing over redds. Rather, I am simply recommending “matching the hatch” so to speak by fishing what the trout are feeding on.
Minimum flow has been interrupted by a unit of water only for two to three hours at a time either in the morning or afternoon. These pushes have been quite discolored and full of leaves and probably smart to avoid if possible. The low flows have been fishing well for the most part with egg patterns, midges, scuds, and soft hackles. Something with a bit of flash or bright color helps the trout find the fly when the water is stained either from lake turnover or runoff. Just for fun, try tying your scuds, midges, and nymphs with a bit of UV dubbing or bright orange or pink tungsten beads.