I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve been asked when our rivers are going to get back to normal. With it comes the assumption that “normal” is the prefect time to fish.
Inconveniently, nature doesn’t know normal, swinging from crisis to crisis, with normal a night in a cheap motel beside the interstate of life. Case in point 2016.
Right now we are a couple of hours uphill and up north of severe drought conditions. The drought which fuelled the fires in TN this week, stretches across Mississippi into central AR.
Our lakes have been dropping since August, as a result of below average rainfall. On the other hand if you remember late December 2015 we got dumped upon and ended up with spillway releases through January & February. So we have had flood and (near drought in the same year, delivering monster fish for the boat based streamer addicts and plenty of low water wading.
You might also recall, particularly from Jason’s image above the howls of anguish over the bilious green filamentous algae which covered the bottom post flood. Dealing with algae on your flies became a ritual, but the fishing was good, and when it passed we ended up with the cleanest river many longtime residents have ever seen.
2017 is probably going to turn up some suprises, and you will probably get a little of what you hope for and a lot of what you don’t, a fair bit of which will still be better than you expect if you make the effort to get on the water.
But that is fishing: the only way to guarantee no fish is to not go.
Enjoy the rest of this week’s report.
WHITE RIVER: As temperatures cooled this week we saw an increase in generation from a week ago. The flow regime for the rest of the month is going to depend a lot on temps. If you are turning on the heat when you get off work and running it through the mornings, we will see bumps of generation earlty and later in the day. Need a heater all day and we could start to see round the clock generation and more generation on Norfork, which is still pretty high.
Midges remain the mainstay, Davy Super Midges and Knowles’ Ruby Midges have been leading the pack. Red, black abnd chocolate brown remain strong, but its worth running some olive colors as well right now.
Fish these behind a heavier larger pattern, Bigger copper Johns and PTs can be products, the Devil Jigs and Jigged PTs are strong and of course Sunday Specials. Egg type attractors, including Beaded Glo Bugs or Y2Ks can also be a productive lead fly.
There is plenty of interest in streamers right now, and the smaller patterns, Sparkle Minnows, Buggers and assorted Coneheads have been producing goodly numbers of rainbows and occassional browns.
But the bumps of water we have been getting over the past few days have been high enough to warrant dragging out the heavier sticks and bigger flies, albeit the window of opportunity is pretty narrow. Double Deceivers, Sluggos, Twerking Minnows and Viking Midges are worth having in your box.
NORFORK: Windows of wadeable water are becoming harder to find on the Norfork but fish the fast water with a Sunday Special, egg pattern, or Root Beer Midge. Try swinging buggers, small Sparkle Minnows or Tailwater soft hackles.
The slow pools are best fished with suspended Scuds, Sowbugs, and small dark nymphs like a #16 thread head PT. Under flows of one unit, drifting from a boat with weighted egg patterns, Sunday Specials, and even a weighted shad imitation can tempt some fat bows and cutthroats.