It should come as no surprise that flexibility is key in finding success on our tailwaters right now. Spring weather and water changes by the hour. You need mobility and a variety of flies and presentations to stay on the bite. It’s common for our guides to fish multiple locations in the river system and multiple techniques – from dries to nymphs to streamers – in the same day. Hold on to your hat, roll with the punches, and fish hard.
Looking ahead, more sunshine is on the forecast, and with a little help from the SWPA in the form of low water, the caddis bite should heat up soon. Even if heavy generation continues though, the other spring option to start pursuing is the warm water game. From smallmouth and largemouth to crappie, bream, white bass, and hybrids, there’s a ton of options to explore over the next month. You will need a floating line, slow sinking line, and fast sinking line to cover the variety of water situations you will encounter from shallow creeks to deep lakes. Make sure you also have a substantial bass/warmwater fly box full of Clouser Minnows, Crawdads, Poppers, Divers, and the like.
Flows are a bit unpredictable at the moment, fluctuating from 3,000cfs to 10,000 and sometimes more, and changing often. This type of flow schedule can be frustrating, but a more steady schedule will likely materialize before long. In the meantime, a little preparation can keep you fishing regardless of water level. I find it useful and time saving to rig 2 different rods for different water levels, so that a change in depth can be quickly addressed. Rig one rod to fish shallow water, and the other to fish deeper water. Effective flies on the White right now include Wooly Buggers and other small streamers, caddis pupae and various weighted nymphs, midges, sowbugs, San Juan worms.
Norfork tailwater is running steady at one unit or approximately 3,000cfs. San Juan worms, Sunday Specials, scuds, midges, Wooly Buggers, and Slump Busters are all solid choices. Fish a variety of water – shallow to deep, fast to slow – to find the most consistent pattern and bite.