Well the dry fly bite is back up to speed, thanks to a slight reduction in flow during the morning hours. Last week the baseline flow was approximately 12,000cfs-13,000cfs, and this week it’s been 9,000cfs-10,000cfs. The 10,000cfs mark seems to be a kind of threshold for effective dry fly fishing: under 10,000cfs is conducive to getting fish to eat on top, and things get much more difficult when the flow is over 10,000cfs. This is not a hard rule obviously – fish aren’t monitoring the flow in mathematical units when deciding whether to rise to the surface, and angler skill level combined with adequate boat control both play massive roles in effective presentation regardless of flow.
The dry fly bite seems to be best in the a.m. hours prior to the water level rising dramatically in the afternoon. Around noon the water starts rising, up to 15,000cfs or even 17,000cfs, which means faster deeper water that’s carrying more leaves, twigs, grass, moss, and other debris. As always on the White River, the key to remaining successful throughout the day lies in flexibility – being able to move or change tactics as the water conditions change.
Specifically in this instance, boating anglers can move in the downstream direction throughout the day to stay “ahead” of and completely avoid the heavy and trashy flows of afternoon. Alternatively, boating anglers can move upstream when the water starts rising to get “behind” the worst wave of debris and fish higher, cleaner flows. Moving upstream will put you in faster and deeper water however, so it may be smart to switch to subsurface techniques, either drifting big rubber legged nymphs or stripping big weighted streamers.
Effective terrestrial dry flies include Wiley’s Ant, Evan’s Baby Foam, Chubby Duo, and Dancing Ricky. In slower water when fish are a bit wiser and more cautious, try flies that sit a bit lower in the surface such as Morrish Hopper, Beefcake Hopper, and Crossland’s Klinkhopper. To catch numbers of fish, drop a beadhead nymph under the surface such as a Dally’s Tailwater Jig, Devil Jig, Pheasant Tail nymph or Hare’s Ear nymph. If fish are reluctant to rise or if you find yourself fishing very high water late in the day, try drifting Jigged Flexi Stones close to the banks, or San Juan worms on the bottom below flooded grass beds. Stripping big weighted streamers like BFH Twerking Minnows and Viking Midges can be worthwhile for hunting a big one.
Wade fishermen can get in some fun early in the morning using Root Beer midges, DW Whitetail midges, Trout Crack, and small Hunchback Scuds. Once the water comes up about 10am, boat fishermen are doing well on San Juan worms, eggs, Jigged Pheasant Tail nymphs, and #14 DW Whitetails.