Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow this year, predicting 6 more weeks of winter. While his prediction might hold true to the northeast, the south is not seeing that same shadow. On the other hand, Bee Cave Bob, the Texas version of Punxsutawney Phil, did not see his shadow, meaning spring is just around the corner. Being from Texas, I’m going with Bob’s prediction.
This year’s unusually warm and dry weather has led to the low water situation we are facing. While this weather pattern has made it challenging on our streamer fisherman, it has opened up big swathes of wading water on the White and Norfork and some early caddis hatches. Heck the White hasn’t run water for more than an hour in a week, and when was the last time we could say that.
Caddis pupae and emerger patterns have started getting more attention, and will continue to become more effective as warmer weather continues.
It’s time to drag all that fly fishing gear out of winter storage and get prepped for spring 2017.
With that, let’s talk about what’s been working.
Due to the continued lack of precipitation and fairly warm temperatures, we have had pretty much minimum flow for the last week. The caddis are starting to show in the warmer waters downstream from Rim Shoals in some better numbers. It won’t be much more than a week or two before we start to see some serious numbers on the wing.
Wade fisherman can continue to expect to do well with both nymphs and small streamers in this sort of water.
Midges (ruby, rootbeer, & diamond in size 18), pheasant tails (in sizes 14, 16, & 18), devil jigs (red and copper in sizes 14 & 16).
Also, try throwing a Strollis Quill Body Jig (size 14), or Devil Jigs (size 14) either by itself or in combination with a colorful attractor, such as a Y2K or San Juan Worm or Glo Bug. The jigs also make a great lead fly ahead of midge pupa.
Highly productive big water streamers include CJ’s Sluggo, Dally’s Twerkin Minnow, Schmidt’s Double Deceiver, Lafkas’ Super Cougar and Lovechild Sculpin, and Lynch’s D&D.
Streamer fishermen should also try throwing sculpin imitations such as large olive woolly buggers, FS Bunny Sculpins, Kreelex flies and Lunch $.
Be mindful on how much you rely on the SWPA water release prediction. The last two days, it has either not run at all in the morning, or later than they scheduled. During those times when wadeable water is available (which has been for the better part of the day this past week), nymph fisherman can expect to do well with Garrett’s Purple Death (size 18), Clint’s Sunday Special (sizes 16 and 18), midges (root beer and black & purple zebra in sizes 16 & 18), pheasant tails (size 16 & 18), prince nymphs (size 14 & 16), hunchback scuds (size 16 & 18), and tailwater sowbugs (sizes 16 and 18).
Small sculpin patterns like FS Bunny Sculpins, Slump Busters, and Cone Head Woolies, are also productive when stripped slowly over the bottom. Other effective streamers are Bennett’s Lunch $, Jake’s CDC Squirrel Leech, and Craven’s Baby Gonga.