Some experiences are best judged by their quality rather than their quantity. Fishing can be one of those experiences. Though it is overwhelmingly common in the trout fishing sphere to try and quantify the day in terms of numbers and size of fish, at some point numbers simply fail to capture the quality of an experience in meaningful terms. Could the manner in which a fish is caught matter more than the fish’s size? For instance: Does catching a fish on a dry fly as opposed to a nymph create more excitement, delight, or contentment, and therefore a better memory of the experience? If so, then your best fishing memories may be altogether absent of numbers.
Caddis season on the White is the perfect time to compare the level of satisfaction gained from catching a brown trout on a nymph versus a dry. There are a few tradeoffs between the two techniques. Nymphing is usually more productive in terms of size and number of fish, simply because trout feed subsurface more often than they feed on the surface, especially the big fat ones. That doesn’t mean nymphing is easier than dry fly fishing – nymphing is quite complex, more so than surface fishing because of the added dimension of depth, and difficult to master – it just means nymphing doesn’t have to be mastered to work well. Dry fly fishing can range from super easy (bream eat poppers in slow water) to super technical (picky trout sipping tiny bugs in current seams). But the added bonus of catching fish on the surface is that you get the satisfaction of watching the fish eat the fly.
During this caddis season on the White, quality browns are being caught, and caught in quantity. Most of them are caught on nymphs, and most fishermen would never ever complain about that. When conditions and skill are adequate, some are caught on dries, and those anglers tend to feel pretty good about the experience.
Flows are somewhere between 2,000 and 4,000cfs for most of the day. Caddis and midges are hatching heavily almost every day, though the activity is not constant, but in two or three bursts it seems, both a.m. and p.m. Nymphing is great with Sunday Specials, BH Caddis Pupae, Prince Nymphs, and even green Copper Johns. Trail these with a Ruby or Root Beer midge if you like. Olive and tan colored soft hackles are excellent drifted or swung. A few dries are picking off browns as well: E/C Caddis, E/Z Caddis are strong, Elk Hair Caddis #14 holds up a soft hackle dropper nicely.
Flows were at minimum all day, which was serving up good wade fishing with caddis pupae, soft hackles, Root Beer midges, and E/C Caddis. However, tomorrow’s projection shows high water for the morning hours, which will need to be fished heavy and deep with San Juan worms and Daphnia flies. Off again on the flow in the p.m. hours, so perhaps look for some afternoon caddis and midge activity after the water drops out.