A spur of the moment streamer fishing outing Tuesday left Chad, Steve, and myself all thinking the same thing: it’s time to start tying streamers. We all shuffled through our briefcases of big flies, trying different colors, profiles, and actions to trigger a response from brown trout, and were successful to a degree, bringing several average sized fish to the boat. Not surprising – a dark, damp, cold day on the White combined with high water usually spells success when playing the streamer game. Nothing like a little taste of success early in the season like this to get your wheels turning.
December is the perfect month to cull your streamer box, tweak your favorite patterns, and test new ideas so that you’re locked and loaded for the new year. Test is the key word here – speaking from experience here, I’ve tied several flies recently that look beautiful in the vice, but upon introducing them to their subsurface job site, they simply failed to show the action I wished to achieve. These specimens are nice to look at, but quite frankly, they won’t fish well and they were a waste of my time – but by testing them I now know I need to change up my recipe a bit, which will help me avoid the same mistakes next go ’round. Trial and error is the only way to roll. Come stock up on streamer tying materials, chain yourself to the vice for a couple hours, then jump to the river for a test swim.
Nymphing the low flows is quite effective with Pheasant Tails, Sunday Specials, Ruby and Root Beer Midges, Wotton’s Super Midges, and of course egg patterns. A few sporadic hatches of Blue Wing Olives have been spotted, so some #18-20 Blue Wing Olive dries would be useful, as well as some small olive bodied nymphs like Micro Mayfly Nymphs or Egan’s Iron Lotus. In higher flows, as alluded to earlier, now is the perfect time to start getting your streamer game dialed in, and some nice fish have already been caught on Double Deceivers and Circus Peanuts.
Low flows are fishing well with the usual small dark bodied midges, and olive or tan scuds, as well as egg patterns. Keep an eye out for crane fly hatches that can be fished effectively with orange or rust colored soft hackles. In high flows, the Norfork can be a spectacular streamer fishery that is often overshadowed by the world famous White River. When flowing, the Norfork is narrower and faster than the White, making it the perfect place to try smaller, heavier streamers tied with lead eyes, Fish Skull helmets, and the like.