You know the Norfork is fishing well when every fly guide in the area is jamming up the river with jet boats and drifters. Yet despite the steady pounding from guide boats, rentals, and personal watercraft, the ‘Fork has produced quality and quantity nearly every day for the past couple weeks. Fat colored-up browns, hot rod-bending ‘bows, bloodthirsty cutthroats, the slam completing black toothed brookie, and even the odd Bonneville have all been showing up often enough to make a grumpy man chuckle.
It is simply amazing that such a short tailwater, so heavily pressured, could consistently yield sizable trout to seasoned return anglers and inexperienced newcomers alike. However, those who have paid their dues on the oars and the throttle stick know that this river can be fickle and moody, and it’s only a matter of time before conditions change, fishing returns to a more normal rate of success, and the guide boats will once again spread themselves out over the more lengthy White River tailwater. In the meantime, long live the ‘Fork, “Princess of Tailwaters,” and may her trout continue to take flies with reckless abandon.
Flows continue to hover around 13,000cfs. Terrestrial patterns in black, tan, or pink may still take some larger browns when fished close to the bank on cool October mornings and warm breezy evenings. Small streamers like Cone Headed Buggers, Sparkle Minnows, and Slump Busters are a perfect searching pattern stripped on a sink tip line past boulders, log jams, docks, and anything else that forms a current break. Go larger with Double Deceivers, Circus Peanuts, and Sex Dungeons for a chance at a truly large fish. Numbers of fish are best caught on drifted flies under an indicator. Think attractor patterns like eggs and worms followed by more subtle offering including mayfly nymphs (Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ear’s, Copper Johns), midges (Super midges, Whitetails, Zebras), and scuds/sowbugs (Hunchback scuds, Wotton sowbugs).
Flows have dropped just slightly over the past several days, and are hovering around 3,600cfs, or about one full unit. Drifting eggs, midges, and scuds under an indicator is extremely effective, especially orange eggs, brown, black or red midges, and tan or olive scuds. Small streamers like Sparkle Minnows, Zonkers, and white baitfish or flesh fly imitations are catching nice fish, and even a large yellow Double Deceiver will draw chases and strikes from quality trout. Exercise boating caution around blind corners and in the faster chutes and bottle-necks. Many areas are rocky and the presence of other boats narrows your navigable channels.