The terrestrial dry fly action is heating up. Several fish around the two foot mark have been caught this week, mostly on the surface. The morning bite is strong, and evenings as well, and on days with cloud cover the bite could last all day. The phrase “this is better than out west” has escaped the lips of more than one satisfied customer this week, in the context of conversation about dry flies and brown trout. Comparing the Rocky Mountain fisheries to our Ozark Plateau tailwater is a case of apples and oranges – they are too different to make a fair comparison – but the White River at its best is certainly capable of outshining any trout river in the country.
The low water mark over a 24 hour period keeps increasing – from minimum flow two weeks ago to 3,000cfs last week to 6,000cfs this week. This increasing average flow may be contributing to the excellent terrestrial fishing since the added volume introduces more terrestrial food into the water and provides more inundated structure along the banks for fish to use as cover. Dam release has been peaking as high as 20,000cfs in the late afternoons/early evenings, which gets a little tricky to fish effectively due to high current speeds and depth. The most consistent bite seems to be between 6,000 and 10,000cfs, on both dries and nymphs.
Targeting the banks with terrestrial dry flies is a highly effective technique right now for catching brown trout. The Chubby Duo, Evans Baby Foam, and Wiley’s Ant are high floaters, easy for the angler to see and capable of holding up a nymph if desired. The Morrish Hopper especially has been a hot pattern. It, along with #8-10 Beefcake Hopper, Dancing Ricky, and Crosslands’ Klinkhopper sit slightly lower in the surface and make a more subtle presentation. Summer is terrestrial time, and terrestrial bugs in general have long legs, so the use of long rubber legs in a fly pattern is smart for summer fly selections, and that applies to dries, nymphs, and streamers. Check out Jig Stone and Sexy Stone for nymphs, or throwback to classics like Pat’s Rubberlegs and Whitlock’s rubber legged Fox Squirrel Nymph. Rubberlegged cone headed Wooly Buggers would be a smart streamer choice. Late afternoons are still offering a bit of sulfur action in the upper river. Keep some Film Critics or Silverman’s Stackers handy just in case.
Minimum flow and good wade fishing are still a morning option. Small terrestrial dries (#10 Klinkhopper, #10 Dancing Ricky) are fun to try in the moving water – the big cutthroat seem especially willing to rise. Griffith’s Gnats and Parachute Adams #18-22 are good for imitating midges on the surface. Root Beer midges, DW Whitetail midges #18, and Tailwater Sowbugs are good sub-surface. The water starts rising at 11am and stays at two full units the rest of the day. On the big water try Jig Stones, Jigged Pheasant Tail Nymphs, and San Juan Worms.