Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 5/23/19

Ben Archibald of Alabama caught this fat brown on a midge, despite the fish being already stuffed with caddis pupae and a small trout.

Things are much the same on the White this week as they were last week – hot weather, erratic flows, waning caddis hatch, but still plenty of hungry trout. One difference this week is a bit of minimum flow here and there (Wednesday, and projected again for tomorrow). It is always surprising how shallow the river appears under minimum flow after getting used to fishing two to three units or more. Speeding upstream in a jet boat, the visible rocks and skinny shoals certainly widen the eyeballs and quicken the pulse.

Minimum flow in Cotter, AR. Steve Dally photo.

As the caddis hatch wanes, the midge bite seems to be getting stronger. Sometimes the surface of the river appears blanketed with emerging midges, while the caddis are sparser, appearing several feet apart on the water. Also there are smaller, size 16-18 caddis, darker in both body and wing than the size 14 white winged green bodied bugs that dominate the hatch through April and early May. Other recent bug sightings include sulfur mayflies, large white mayflies, and one very lonely golden stonefly.

Golden stone, singular, sighted at Cranor’s lodge

One would have to believe that the recent minimum flow events are efforts to relieve downstream flooding in the White River delta region. As the dam holds water back, the lake level continues to rise approximately six inches a day. The lake is already twenty feet into flood pool, and while there is another 13 feet to go before maximum capacity, it seems that some heavy generation and dam release must be in the near future. The process of bringing the lake level back down starts perhaps with late afternoon pulses like we’ve been seeing up to 14,000cfs for a few hours, but likely we’re not far away from steady round the clock high water release. Get your worms and streamers ready y’all.

Tommy Archibald, making a stop on the White en route from Alabama to Wyoming for a summer guiding gig.

Read on for specifics on flows and flies.

White River:

Baseline flows could be minimum or 2,500cfs. Either way there are still caddis coming off sporadically and midges strong. Nymph with Jigged Princes, green Devil Jigs, and Birds Nests trailed by Ruby, Root Beer, and Whitetail midges. On minimum flow try swinging Dally’s Tailwater Soft Hackle in caddis green or Davy Wotton’s Skating Caddis. The rising water in the afternoons can be unfishable due to lots of clumps of algae, but staying close to the dam and fishing worm flies and DW Whitetail midges can be good.

Norfork River:

Expect minimum flow until about two or three in the afternoon. Root Beer midge is king, but Hunchback Scuds, small Pheasant Tail nymphs, and Whitetail midges are strong too. Griffith’s Gnats are taking fish on top. Try swinging Anna K’s just for fun. When the water comes up, drift or twitch Meat Whistles, Ice Picks, and Sparkle Minnows for a bigger fish.