Rainy’s Flies sales rep Stephen Seaton with a PB brown from the White, Saturday _ Steve Dally image
IN the mythology of fly fishing alongside perfect drifts is the notion of clockwork hatches, those mythical events which hatch, in the same riffle on the same day year after year.
If you have ever done any serious travel to fish you will understand the vagaries of nature and travelling to find it: Less pastoral simplicity, more gothic surreal, lurching from crisis to crisis in an ongoing black comedy with you as the punchline. The seriousness of the crisis at hand is proportional to the amount of time its going to take before you can laugh about it.
For instance, its been almost a quarter of a century and my father still isn’t laughing about the day we both failed to put the plugs back in his 21’ sportfisher, the discovery only made well offshore _ and I was the one sent under the boat.
I’ve also flown to Wyoming in a heatwave, arrived a week too early for the Hex in Michigan and a week too late in Idaho, been rained out in Colorado and got snowed on in mid-summer in Australia. It doesn’t matter where you travel, you end up earning the perfect days.
Now the vagaries of power generation & flood control add another factor into the mix on our tailwaters. From July to October we had big water to dump the monsoons of early summer and waders grouching about a lack of water. Now we have swung the other way with the streamer guys looking for some flow.
The trick to traveling and fishing is handling the days which aren’t perfect _ making the most of the borderline days, when a warm fire is calling, or the water is high or dirty or lower than you would really like.
Our Rainy’s rep Stephen Seaton is on a mission for a really good streamer brown, so much so he ran down to the Little Red for a day Friday to fish some flow when our tailwaters were down. Saturday’s forecast, 3000 cfs, 15 mph winds and cold, was far from perfect.
A handful of smaller weigthed streamers, a slow sinking line and we found a 22” + female, and a handful of rainbows. The fishing was slower, more painstaking, and if we had stripped faster would could have whacked a bunch of bows.
A hot ham and cheese sandwhich served up at White Hole and a can of Dale’s capped off a great day. No condition’s weren’t perfect but you are always better off fishing.
For the detailed fishing report on White River and Norfork, read on.
Flows have become a bit more sporadic over the past couple days, oscillating between 3k and 8k cfs. The lowest flows are usually seen in the mornings, and the further you are downriver, the longer you will have the benefit of lower water in terms of concentrated fish and consistent catching. Targeting the lowest flows available with bead head nymphs and midges will catch plenty fish. Try heavy tungsten options like the Iron Lotus, Micro Mayfly Nymph, Tungsten Copper John and Tungsten Pheasant Tail. Attach below your heavy fly a more subtle offering such as a Zebra Midge, Super Midge, Wotton Sowbug, or Tailwater Soft Hackle. If flows are rising or dingy in color, try brightly colored streamers like Sparkle Minnows for singles and Yellow Double Deceivers for doubles.
Flows have jumped up a bit in volume, resembling closer to two units than one when under generation. The periods of low water will still fish well in the traditional finesse manner with small dark midges and scuds, but these periods may be fewer and farther between. On the big flows, step up your leader length, weight, and fly size to get down and get noticed. AAA split shot, large size indicators, big San Juans and eggs for attractors, and #14 midges, scuds, and mayfly nymphs are the recipe for success. For those who prefer quality over quantity, the deep fast flows are perfect for trying plus sized streamers with some weight such as lead eyed Circus Peanuts or Skull Headed Double Deceivers.