Is there any other trout river out there where flows can fluctuate by 20,000cfs or more on a DAILY basis? Even in a river as wide as the White, that’s a daily rise and fall of nearly 8 feet. For the freestone angler not used to tailwater schedules, this is the equivalent of your stream going from drought conditions to heavy spring runoff conditions and back again, in a matter of hours.
The White’s wild browns, those naturally reproducing in the river, undoubtedly grow accustomed to moving around and changing feeding habits according to the flows, but that doesn’t necessarily make them predictable creatures. The factors determining their level of interest in feeding extend well beyond water volume to include things like temperature, light conditions, barometric pressure, and fishing pressure. The puzzle takes patience and persistence to put together, yet as soon as the pattern starts to materialize and you’ve found feeding browns, the puzzle pieces change shape and scramble themselves again – different flow schedule, different weather pattern, different food source etc.
Just in case that isn’t challenge enough for you, don’t forget that trophy browns might only feed for a short time each day (or night) or sometimes not at all if conditions aren’t right. But that’s the thrill of the chase right? A trophy fish isn’t a trophy fish unless its hard to come by. We play the game when the board is set – when conditions are conducive to good hunting – and when they’re not, we have fun plucking out piles of eager rainbows.
The flow schedule has been minimum flow until about noon, which makes perfect wading conditions and highly productive fishing over heavily concentrated fish in the pockets, pools, and runs. Indicator fishing with Whitetail and Super Midges, Redneck Midges, Sunday Specials, Micro Mayfly Nymphs, Pheasant Tails, and Devil Jigs is silly good at best, steady at worst. Small olive Woolies and a variety of soft hackles including Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackle in orange are killer. The riffles and shoals are a good place to try summer terrestrials on top too – Hippie Stompers, Fat Alberts, Grand Hoppers in smaller sizes are all good choices. The high flows in the afternoon/evening provide an opportunity to trophy hunt either by casting big foam terrestrials tight to the bank or stripping big articulated streamers on fast sinking lines. Try big Fat Alberts and Western Ladies, and Schmidt’s BFH Double Deceiver.
Minimum flow until noon means more wade fishing opportunities and good fishing with midges, soft hackles, scuds. Try a Root Beer Midge, olive Hunchback scud, or Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackle in black. One unit in the afternoons can be fished effectively by nymphing deeper and heavier, or by stripping small streamers like Slump Busters, Conehead Woolies, Galloup’s Boogieman, and other sculpinesque flies.