It’s officially autumn now, but it still feels like summer on the river. Mornings are cool and foggy, afternoons are hot and muggy, and plenty of nice trout are still in their summertime haunts. The steady high water creates lots of undercut banks, flooded grass beds, shady pockets under overhanging trees, and other such comfortable places for mature browns to claim as their own place of rest and ambush. Hard seams where current and backwaters meet are generally full of suspended rainbows picking off midges. The stable conditions and lack of change in water level has the fish quite comfortable in their habits, which produces relatively consistent fishing results.
Some thunderstorms moved through the area this week, raining just enough to wet the dust down and drop the temperature closer to the comfortable range. The weather forecast looks beautiful through the end of the week and the weekend, with plenty of sunshine and highs in the eighties. Early autumn is one of the most enjoyable times to be outside and the first week of fall is shaping up to be no exception to that rule.
Terrestrial dry flies (Wiley’s Ant, Fat Albert, Western Lady) are still drawing crushing takes from hungry browns – not necessarily all day every day, but the dry fly game is definitely still effective and fun to play. Stonefly nymphs (Flexi Stone, Rubberlegs, Jigged Stone) are a great alternative when fish won’t come up. Suspending small bead heads (#14-16 Micro Mayfly nymphs, Dally’s Tailwater Jigs, DW Super midges) in slow deep water around moss beds is super productive for catching numbers of fish. Dredging gravel bars with San Juan worms and DW worms is quite effective for both numbers and size.
When flowing at one generator, the Norfork has been slightly off-color, which is normal in the fall, and fishing well with egg patterns, San Juan worms, and DW Whitetail midges. Conehead Wooly Buggers of various sizes and colors are drawing strikes around flooded logs and downed trees. A conduit has been open periodically while maintenance is being done on a generator. While the conduit is open, flows are significantly more (close to two units) and very off-color, yet fish can still be caught by using bright pink San Juan worms, Cheetos, and large bright egg patterns fished with ample depth and weight.