High heat is back with a vengeance this week, after a few days of scattered clouds and thunderstorms. What little rain we received was much needed, though barely enough to knock the dust down. The forecast shows highs in the mid to upper nineties for the next week, but do not despair fellow anglers – the cold tailwaters of the White and Norfork Rivers are the perfect oasis for the summer angler. One splash of 56 degree water on the back of one’s neck, or one short break under the shade of a silver maple on the bank, or the breeze from a boat ride under one’s ball cap – any of these is sufficiently refreshing to stay in the game mentally and physically.
Lake levels are dropping and rapidly approaching power pool, which means we should see a reduction in water release patterns soon. Already the Norfork is reduced from two units to one, and the White is running 12,000 to 14,000cfs instead of 15,000 to 18,000cfs. With all the heavy flows recently, fishing has been a little tougher than normal, but mostly on the numbers front – quality brown trout are still showing up here and there. As the flows are reduced however, the hard fast banks that harbor so many of our best fish will become easier to fish, and doubtless the summer terrestrial bite we all look forward to will be on.
The bass creeks are really too low for enjoyable canoeing or kayaking, but wade fishing can be quite productive at public access points on Crooked Creek and Buffalo River. Standing in the water is always a good idea when the temps are in the nineties. Small popping bugs like Boogle Bugs and Double Barrel Poppers, as well as more subtle Bluegill Spiders and Rainy’s Spidey Sense are all endless fun to feed to the ravenous panfish and small bass that inhabit these waters.
Read on for more specifics on flows and flies.
Flows are at 12,000-14,000cfs, requiring deep nymphing tactics or streamers on sink tip lines. Nymphing can be successful by combining a large bright attractor fly (large egg or San Juan worm or even a white shad pattern) to get noticed in the heavy flows, with a more subtle trailing fly such as a Jigged Pheasant Tail nymph or Devil Jig, or large Wotton Whitetail midge. Fish these flies deep with split shot along current seams and slower river margins especially near grass and moss beds. Streamer fishing with big heavy flies (Conrad Sculpins, Dally’s BFH Twerking Minnow, Lafkas’ Lovechild Sculpin and White River Deceiver, Schmidt’s Viking Midge) on fast sinking lines could pull out a truly big brown in these flows, as Jason Loyd’s recent catch confirms (see previous post).
Everything could change soon however if flows are reduced as the lake enters power pool. If flows drop by several feet, we could see a sulfur hatch, or prolific midge activity, either way it could produce great nymphing without the super long and heavy rigging that is currently necessary. If flows are reduced by a just a foot or two, conditions will be perfect for tossing foam hoppers and other terrestrial patterns against the banks.
Flows have been reduced from two units to one, which reduces the depth and weight that is necessary to fish effectively. Eggs and San Juan worms are likely still effective as attractors, although a large heavy nymph such as jigged Pheasant Tails, jigged Hare’s Ears, Devil Jigs and the like may be preferable if fish start getting picky. Trail these with more subtle midges (Wotton Super and Whitetail midges, Rubies, Root Beers), Rainy’s Sowbug gray, Sunday Specials, Rainbow Warriors.