Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 6/20/19

Cortland, hailing from Tennessee, grinning on the White this week

Another week passes on the Bull Shoals tailwater, and a couple of positive seasonal developments in the fishing should be noted. First, the sulfur mayfly hatch is now significant and predictable. Bugs averaging about a size 14 are emerging in strong numbers in the late afternoon, peaking around 3-4pm. Fish will take dries if carefully targeted, especially along the banks and in seams and eddies around bank structure, but nymphing with appropriate mayfly nymphs is easier and more productive. Fishing while anchored, wade fishing, or otherwise fishing from a stationary point can add a little swing to the flies and produce aggressive strikes.

Austin, also of Tennessee, with a hungry hefty bow

The second development this past week is the increasing effectiveness of terrestrial dries, fished either alone or as a “hopper/dropper” setup. The variety of crawling, jumping, and flying insects found in the riparian zone of the White River ecosystem is astounding. Grasshoppers, beetles, crickets, ants, cicadas, and other bugs get flooded out of the grass and shrubbery along the banks every time the water rises, and other unlucky insect souls fall from overhanging trees and plop into the river regardless of the flow. While terrestrials are not as consistent a food source for trout as midges, caddis, or mayflies, they are certainly a bigger, meatier meal, and hungry trout will make a habit of taking terrestrials all summer long. The fun has only just begun!

Rodney, leader of the Tennessee group, with the fish of the trip, out of Jason Loyd’s boat

White River:

The flow has been fairly consistent around 2,500cfs with slight bumps late in the afternoon or early evenings. “Hopper/dropper” style fishing has been popular and effective, using foam terrestrial dries (Western Ladies, Fat Alberts, Chubby Chernobyls) as indicators and midges or mayfly nymphs (DW Super midges, Frenchie Jig, Devil Jig, Pheasant Tails, Hare’s Ears) as a dropper. Removing the dropper and concentrating the presentation of a terrestrial near the banks in the evenings as the water rises has produced some big browns already. Tomorrow’s water release projection looks different though – minimum flow until afternoon, then heavy flows through the afternoon/evening – so get ready to adjust. That will mean fishing light and finesse in the mornings with smaller midges and nymphs (Ruby, Redneck, and Zebra midges, small Pheasant tails) and bigger and meaner stuff late in the day on the high water (#4 and #6 terrestrials, and for those that enjoy it, large articulated streamer patterns on sink tip lines).

Norfork River:

Norfork is now running at two units around the clock, which eliminates wade fishing, but should produce some consistent high water nymphing and streamer fishing. Try dredging the deep pools and slower pockets with San Juan worms, Daphnia cluster patterns, Jigged Pheasant Tail nymphs, and #14 DW Whitetail midges. Streamer fish on sink tip lines with Twerking Minnows, Viking Midges, Ice Picks, Meat Whistles, and other weighted patterns.

Crooked Creek:

Flows are low and clear and wadable, or floatable in kayaks. Must try patterns are Hada’s Craft Fur Clouser and Creek Crawlers. Whitlocks’s Near Nuff Crawfish is also solid. Boogle Bugs fished early and late and in the shade can be a hoot.