Some White River Butter _ John Goff image & capture from a trip with Gabe Levin
It has been a big relief, mentally and physically, to see the White River back under 10,000cfs this week. Yes the flows are erratic and unpredictable right now, so wade fishermen still need to pay attention and exercise caution, but who could complain after nearly 4 months of steady big water, big oar strokes, big split shot, big bobbers, etcetera, etcetera. Instead of motoring from spot to spot and digging hard on the oars for short drifts, I’m cruising over shallow gravel bars, content just to see the bottom, and making long slow lazy drifts over pools that were far too deep and swift last week.
And the fish? They didn’t wash away! Can you believe it? Fat and happy rainbows will munch your drifted, floated, or stripped flies with the kind of steady persistence that we often take for granted on the White. Browns are beginning to spawn but many are still looking for a meal before they begin their autumn activities. If nothing else, it is a pleasure to put on a warm jacket again, motor through cool mist under gray skies, and drift past yellowing sycamores and burnt orange hickories, oaks, and maples.
Sherman Black returned “home” from Minnesota for this 22” White River Hen on a streamer, Steve Dally pic
Rainbows fattened and strengthened by the extended period of high water are biting well on drifted egg patterns, San Juans, and large heavy Pheasant Tails trailed by Super Midges, Whitetail Midges, Ruby and Root Beer midges, and various gray sowbug patterns. Cone Headed Wooly Buggers, Slump Busters, and Sparkle Minnows are also connecting to plenty of fish.
Terrestrials, mostly the patterns in black, are a worth a try for a late season brown, and have brought in some quality fish lately, but will pull a nice by-catch of rainbows as well.
Try running a dropper nymph or midge under the foam dry for some added consistency. With the water levels changing often now, fishing large streamers like Schmidt’s Double Deceiver, Viking Midge or Lynch’s DDs and DDDs on rising flows could up your odds at a trophy brown.
Flows continue at half to one unit round the clock, but it would not be surprising to see minimum flow again soon. Drifted egg patterns, San Juans, Super Midges, Whitetail Midges, Sunday Specials, and Hunchback Scuds are all solid producers. Small flashy streamers are good for getting attention in especially stained flows. Look to Kreelex Minnows, Sparkle Minnows, Zonkers, and Autumn Splendors.