The White River is making a lot of smiles and memories for folks right now. First time fly anglers and those with little overall experience are receiving quality instructions from Dally’s guides and getting consistently rewarded for their efforts. Thanks to heavy stocking by the Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, the White River is fairly full of small to average trout right now. There is a literal smorgasbord of young rainbows, browns, two kinds of cutthroats, brookies, and even a few “golden” rainbows swimming around out there. To compliment the great numbers of fish, there are a few brood stock thumper rainbows released, and then of course the ever present and famous population of White River trophy brown trout.
There are very few trout rivers in the country that can truly offer something for every skill level to the degree the White River can. Beginners are encountering plenty of playful and willing fish while learning basic fly fishing techniques, and the chances of a beginning angler finding themselves tethered to a truly large trout are higher on the White River than anywhere. The high water scenario we are experiencing this summer means that the more experienced anglers can hone their skills fishing in and amongst heavy current, overhanging trees, and dense underwater structure all while intentionally targeting larger fish.
The current possibility of catching a nice fish on a dry fly early in the morning or late in the afternoon is icing on the cake for those that are pickier about the visual angling experience or have already fished the world over. From a first timer to the seasoned and traveled student of fly fishing and everyone in-between, it’s hard to imagine someone going home dissatisfied after a day on the White with one of Dally’s guides.
Flows are fairly stable at approximately 13,000cfs for the morning session. The coveted terrestrial dry fly bite is inconsistent but some mornings it’s quite good, especially with skilled casts and presentations. Just scoring a couple browns on top is worth spending a few hours’ time and effort. Western Ladies, Morrish Hoppers, and Fat Alberts have made a comeback as popular choices as of late, to compliment some newer patterns like Beefcake Hopper, Dancing Ricky, Crosslands’ Klinkhopper. A little Dry Magic fly floatant works wonders to keep your bug from getting too wet. As the sun gets higher and the fog lifts, going subsurface with Jigged Flexi Stones or Sexy Stones is a strong move, especially when combined with a Dally’s Tailwater Jig in silver or red, or a Devil Jig, or Jigged Pheasant Tail, or other compact heavy mayfly nymph. The water will start rising around 1pm and may come up by as much as two feet (up to 18,000cfs) over the course of the afternoon. The additional current speed, volume, and debris content makes for tougher, less productive fishing overall, but at the same time the rising water can trigger a big brown to feed on a large terrestrial dry fly, large rubber legged nymph, or large streamer.
Expect two full units around the clock – the morning window of wade fishing opportunity is not there at the moment. However, boating anglers have been pulling on some big fat rainbow, browns, and cutthroats by dredging the bottom with egg patterns, San Juan worms in red, pink, or natural, #14 Jigged Pheasant Tails, #14 DW Whitetail midges, #14 Tailwater Sowbugs.