Many long casts with a heavy line, and many many many strips of a big fly, no matter the weather; that’s what it takes to catch a big White River brown on a streamer. The game is physically and mentally draining, best suited for skilled and motivated anglers, but the reward is sweeter for the difficulty, and the experience of catching a huge brown trout on a large fly is not easily forgotten. A series of mental images from the event – the eat, the jump, the tail walk, the broad flash of gold underwater – will stay burned into your memory forever.
Par for the course is one or two fish between 17-21″ in a day. Some days are far more productive, and some days the fish of a lifetime shows up. Getting skunked is normal too – even for highly skilled anglers. This is a big game hunt more so than a fishing trip. You wouldn’t expect to kill a big buck every day you deer hunt would you? You should expect to struggle in your pursuit of a monster brown trout, too. Don’t want to struggle? There are certainly more effective means of catching fish than fishing large streamers. Try downsizing the streamer for example, or indicator fishing with worm patterns, or, wait for the shad kill, when big browns feast on dead drifting minnows.
Lest anyone get huffy over the suggestion that streamer fishing is hard and other techniques are easy, please understand that these comments are not meant as a critique of differing skill levels and desires, and are not written from some “holier than thou” platform of streamer fishing ideology. To the contrary, these comments are intended to help clarify what to reasonably expect out of a highly pressured public fishery, and to help steer people in the direction of their respective satisfactions. After all we are a community of fishing guides here – our job is to educate and satisfy the varying interests of visiting anglers. Each individual visiting angler shows up with a different set of knowledge, skills, and expectations. Good fishing guides, like good coaches, know how to evaluate experience levels, develop skill sets, and manage expectations in ways that ultimately lead to happy customers, regardless of whether a trophy brown trout is landed or not.
And now, some updates on current conditions:
Considerable rainfall in the past couple days has muddied up Crooked Creek and Buffalo River again, rendering the lower sections of the White River tailwater temporarily unfishable; expect it will take a few days for clarity in the lower river to improve. Dam to Rim Shoals is fine on water clarity, and so is the Norfork tailwater. Both are running clear and stable – White River at 16,000cfs and Norfork at 6,000cfs (Norfork down to 3,500cfs as of noon today, however). Runoff from smaller tributaries should trigger a good bite on worm patterns for a while; try red, pink, and natural worms on long leaders with ample split shot. Streamer fishing of course is a popular way to target big browns specifically, and big damn fish have been caught on local favorites like CJ’s Sluggo and Big Johnson, Dally’s Twerking Minnow and Tiny Dancer, Lafkas’ Modern Deceiver, Super Cougar, and Lovechild Sculpin.