Dally’s Fly Fishing Report 5/28/20

Austin Gentry got his PB brown trout with ben Levin.

It’s been a crazy week on the White. Memorial weekend was a blast as always, a bit crowded, ridiculous, and hilarious at times, but a blast nonetheless. Kayak floats for fishing/sightseeing purposes have become a very popular weekend pursuit on the White. It’s always interesting to see the variety of watercraft sharing the same water: kayaks, canoes, solo pontoons, drift boats, old green jonboats, new sparkly jonboats, jet sleds, power drifters, duck boats, bass boats…..the list goes on. Sometimes all that boat activity can sour the fishing for a period, but then the traffic dissipates for a while and the fish resume feeding. With good timing or just plain luck you can usually manage to catch fish despite the crowds. If nothing else, there are always interesting and entertaining interactions between the occupants of the various watercraft.

Gabe Levin and the approaching kayak swarm

The most incredible interaction of the weekend however was not between boaters, but between woman and fish. As you may have already heard or seen, on Saturday Kari Collins Gentry was learning how to fly fish (first time) with guide Ben Levin, and doing quite well catching normal sized trout when an abnormally sized trout decided to eat the trout on Kari’s line, and a short while later ended up getting its mug shot made with smiling Ben and Kari. Look back a couple posts on the blog to see the pictures of this big bad fish.

Intermittent periods of heavy rain and runoff translates to alot of recent fishing in dirty water. At times it has been too silty and debris filled to be worth fishing, but those periods are very short, and most of the time trout can be caught on flies just fine in stained water. Midges, caddis, and mayflies still hatch in brownish water, the fish still feed on them. San Juan worms, Super midges, Pheasant Tail nymphs, Caddis pupa, Devil Jigs, Tailwater Jigs, have all been producing lately. It will be interesting to see how insect activity is effected by the change in volume and temperature coming from spillway release. A few times in past years we’ve seen very good sulfur mayfly fishing in June even under high water conditions. It would be wise to be prepared with some sulfur nymphs and some parachute sulfur dries as well.

New normal for a while on the White. Steve Dally image.

Some water is being run through the turbines, and more water is coming from the spillways for a combined release of anywhere between 13,000cfs and 18,000cfs. Expect the volume to continue fluctuating but to remain in the general category of “high” for quite some time while the lake is brought down out of flood pool over the next few months. Spillway release is always a good time to try shad flies (DW Threadfin, Meat Whistle, Sparkle Minnow, AR Beadhead) as the water coming from near the lake’s surface is likely to carry the little bait sized shad into the river. Large San Juan worms will likely be a high water staple all summer; dip, dredge, and drown them in red, pink, and natural. Large rubberleg nymphs like Sexy Stone and Jig Girdles will be favorites to get down and dirty as well. And of course, it won’t be long until foam terrestrials are on the menu.

Norfork is running two units, with intermittent spillway release, so it’s either high, or higher. With spillway release shut off and the water flowing at 5,200cfs, fishing is really good right now on both attractors (San Juan worms, egg patterns, Cheetos, Blobs) and little bugs (Whitetail midges, Pheasant Tail nymphs, Hare’s Ear nymphs, Hunchback Scuds). With spillway release on and total volume at 9,200cfs, the river is seriously fast and deep and hard to fish, but if an experienced boater were to try it anyway, Sparkle Minnows and Blobs would probably be the way to go.