I can’t remember the last time I saw minimum flow on the White River – 6 months? A year? It seems strange at first, fishing such slow, shallow water after being conditioned to mega flows for the past 4 months. But low water and sunshine in April is a joyful combination, the perfect conditions for hatching midges and caddis. Bugs were in the air and on the water all day today, and the afternoon fishing really got hot. Wade fishermen took full advantage, some of them likely dusting off their waders from disuse. Up and down the river I saw smiling faces standing knee deep in water.
In addition to the trout fishing getting right, the warm water action is heating up as well. Crooked Creek is perfect now for a canoe or kayak float, and the Buffalo River has room enough to row and fish from a drift boat or pontoon. Smallmouth can be taken on various Clouser Minnows and Hada’s Creek Crawler. Panfish will eagerly slash at small poppers. White bass, largemouth, panfish, and a host of other species can be taken on flies in the lake arms and tributaries as well.
For the time being, expect high water for a couple hours in the morning, followed by minimum flow for the remainder of the day. Wade fishermen: now is the time. Midge and caddis activity is very high with the combination of low water and warm temperatures. A great variety of different midge and caddis patterns are working. A few hot patterns include Fat Caddass, Graphic Caddis, Sparkle Pupae, Sunday Specials, Super Midges, Ruby and Root Beer Midges, Zebra Midges. The chances of encountering an epic dry fly bite increase every day. Keep a selection of caddis dries handy as well.
Steady one unit flows continue, which is tough to wade, but a boat angler would likely find good fishing. Potentially the Norfork could receive less pressure than the White over the weekend because all the wade fishermen will be on the White. One unit also makes the fish less spooky, and gives up legitimate quality fish quite often. The Norfork also can get a sleeper caddis hatch that brings out big fish. Try Sunday Specials, Prince Nymphs, Fat Caddass, Hunchback Scuds, and Root Beer Midges. Use a red or pink San Juan as an attractor. Elk Hair Caddis fished through the fast skinny water can raise fish, and can support a midge dropper.